The only action we can take now to lessen the effect of the COVID–19 pandemic is to practice social distancing and personal hygiene.
Life changed dramatically for us in the last few weeks. A virus called COVID–19 is causing a pandemic. The entire country and most of the world is practicing social distancing and enhanced personal hygiene to reduce the spread of the disease. Those who are most seriously ill are receiving intensive care, but the supply of respirators is insufficient and new drugs are needed. Vaccines are being tested but are months away. Uncertainty leads to questions; where are we now and what can we expect?
The American Enterprise Institute provided a status report, “National Coronavirus Response, A Road Map to Reopening”. This will be summarized below. The full report can be obtained at the link below*.
The graph based on this report lists four phases in the fight against COVID–19, a virus that is highly contagious and has no specific treatment or prevention.
Phase I in the fight began in the U.S. about mid-March and we remain at that stage now. The deadly disease we observed in China is now on our doorstep. Social distancing started for me when our book club spread out (but not six feet) and became official when our poker group was canceled the next evening. After that, a flood of business closings and event cancellations began countrywide. Routines were modified and increased personal hygiene practices were implemented. We were in this together!
Currently, hundreds of thousands of people are infected worldwide, thousands have died, hospitals are overrun and supplies are short. Work has only begun on developing a vaccine and effective medicines. The number of new cases is increasing, meaning we have not reached the peak. We are dealing with a moving target.
The end of Phase I will be here only when there is “a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days”. These new cases could be us ! We are the ones responsible for reducing new cases and our tool is social distancing.
Phase II of the pandemic will be carried out on a state by state level and will include relaxed social distancing. There will continue to be infected people, but the number of new cases will be decreasing, and health care personnel and equipment will be adequate. Phase II will be completed when a vaccine is licensed, effective therapy has been developed, and surveillance with testing is in place.
Phase III will see a lifting of all restrictions. An effective vaccine will be readily available and widely used. There will be widespread immunity.
Phase IV will begin programs to develop new vaccines against novel viruses. The health care system will be fortified to meet the threat of new infectious diseases occurring in epidemic proportions. All of these will be under the umbrella of a national infectious disease forecasting center.
You ask, when will this nightmare be over? There is no good answer, only a best guess. The foregoing is merely an outline of what actions are required to stem the pandemic.
The answer to the question “when does life gets back to the way it was?” depends largely on how well we do our part. The best guess is that it will take months to reach phase III, back to normal life. Before that, U.S. deaths from the virus are projected to be around a hundred thousand with best practices and ten times that if we ignored social distancing, hands away from the face, and hand washing.
A major variable is how we act now. Phase II with relaxed social distancing will happen only when we stem the tide of new cases. That depends on us. We are the only ones who can infect somebody or be infected by another. This means we all must do our part to decrease the number of new cases.
The report was issued 3-28-30 and uses information available at the time. It must be understood that the situation with this pandemic is fluid and the report based on the best information available.
By Savvy Senior
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