3/16/20 COVID-19 Update

March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Update

I hope my latest update finds you all well.  As promised, I have continued to follow and participate in web based updates from the White House, the United States Surgeon General, the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.  Below is a summary of all of the latest updates:We have the next 15 days to determine the course of COVID-19 in the United States.  We will either follow the path of  South Korea (good) or Italy (bad).  According to President Trump, we can expect this to last until July in a best case scenario. From the White House Task Force and Vice President Mike Pence:

  1. Schools need to close and education needs to take place at home as much as possible. (This is just shy of mandating school closure but I expect that to happen very soon if its not voluntarily done).
  2. Avoid groups of people more than 10 in number. (CDC says avoid groups <50 but the task force was even more restrictive and I think more in line with what we know to be effective at decreasing virus transmission).
  3. Avoid bars and restaurants. (Many cities and states have already closed these and I would expect most to be closed soon with the exception of take out).
  4. A vaccine is already in Phase I trials which is extremely quick but is at least a year away from widespread use, but this is outstanding news nonetheless as COVID-19 will not be disappearing. The hope is to make it like seasonal flu.
  5. Anti-viral therapies are being tried to see if we can lessen severity and shorten the course of the disease. The early results are promising.

It’s important to remember that infected individuals can spread the virus even when they are showing no symptoms and most of the time they don’t even know they have the virus.  This trait makes this virus extremely dangerous as everyone is starting to realize.  Don’t buy into the claims that this is no worse than the flu, I assure you it is many times worse.According to the infectious disease expert on the White House Task Force, “when dealing with an emerging infectious outbreak, you are already behind where you think you are.” We are not “over-reacting.” In Tennessee, as of the end of the day today, we had 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19.  Using data from rates of increase in China, South Korea and Italy, we have close to 4,000 cases instead of 52, and that number will climb quickly over the next two weeks.We need to continue the things we know will work to “flatten the curve”:

  1. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice while washing).
  2. Keep social distance of at least 6 feet. (This is of VITAL importance).
  3. Clean commonly touched surfaces multiple times daily.
  4. If you are sick, stay at home. If anyone in your household is positive for COVID-19, stay at home.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said today that 15 testing locations will be in place in “metro areas” throughout the state by the end of the week.Millennials are the largest group of our current United States population and according to the public health expert heading the White House Task Force, will determine our success or failure in mitigating COVID-19.  They will do this by how much they abide by the things we know will work.These recommendations will only work if we all adhere to them.  This is an appeal to all Americans to do what we know will save the lives of thousands of our family members, friends and neighbors.As usual, I will follow our leadership daily and I remain available to answer your questions.

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