COVID-19 Update, Actions and Next Steps


This Straight, No Chaser addresses the latest on COVID-19 and discusses actions and next steps.

Number of Cases

The United States is now contracting 40% of the new cases of COVID-19 worldwide. As of this morning, there have been 428,220 cases and 19,101 deaths around the world. In the US, there have now been 55,330 confirmed cases and 804 deaths. That is more American than have died in the Afghanistan war in the last 8 years. Even if that was a hard stop, it would be horrific. But it’s only the end of the beginning.

You should reflect on the fact that we’ve only been dealing with this a short time. The next three weeks will be horrific. #PrayForNY #CaliforniaYoureNext #IllinoisKeepFighting

The Trajectory

Look at this chart of the disease trajectory. It’s not a curve. It’s a straight line. The curve has not yet bent. Cases are doubling every three days. This is not a game or a casual happenstance. This is science and medicine. Any individual’s (even the President’s) exhortations about their opinions or wishes about when and how this will end means next to nothing. Even if you’ve never heard of it, epidemiology is a branch of medicine addressing the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. In other words, this is foreseeable and predictable. It could have been controllable much sooner. It is yet to be determined when it will be controlled.

Now look at this chart. Most US states are actually on the same trajectory. It’s not just New York. If anything, NY is the canary in the coal mine. Forewarned should be forearmed.

What’s Next: Actions and Next Steps

The next three weeks are going to be scary to many and deadly for a lot of Americans. The state of New York’s health care system is about to become overrun as if hit by a tsunami. As much as can be illustrated, the depictions of the numbers of people about to die will be shocking. However, it was still foreseeable. Predictable. Controllable.

And still, it can get worst. There are two sides to #FlattenTheCurve. You must still continue with the need to #StayAtHome. You must engage in vigorous, frequent hand washing. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Sanitize items before and after you touch them. Stay six feet away from others. Avoid gathering of any size, and certainly more than ten people.

Regarding the other side of #FlattenTheCurve, it is not politics to ask the government to engage in public health best practices. We need widespread testing of symptomatic and high risk patients to identify the infected instead of just the seriously sick. #WhereAreTheTests We need to quarantine the infected. We need enforced isolation and treatment of the sick. #WhereAreTheSupplies We need to implement the Defense Protection Act today.

Ongoing half measures, stops and starts and variations from the standard continue to propel the disease forward. It pains me to opine that we have neither seen quick nor decisive action, often due to efforts to weigh other national considerations, including the economy. Pandemics don’t work that way. The best chance for these peripheral considerations to be addressed as soon as possible is to fully address the disease as soon as possible.

Thank you to my colleagues across health care and other essential services for continuing to put your lives on the line to combat this disease. Now, more than ever, health empowerment needs to be your mantra. When our system falls short (or even when it doesn’t), ultimately the responsibility for your health falls in your hands. Please take the actions and next steps recommended. Act as if you already have the disease and don’t want to transmit it.

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