Since Wednesday the number of identified cases in the US has gone from 3,500 to 20,000, partly because of increased testing. Testing remains woefully inadequate so the real number of cases must be much higher. The US deaths have passed 200. More young people are sick and dying. Mardi Gras (Feb. 26) made New Orleans a hot spot and Carnival encouraged transmission throughout Latin America. Spring Break on Miami Beach will have a similar effect. US hospitals are begging for supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and ventilators (respirators), and the government in Washington is so far not demanding that factories repurpose to produce these items. Barring drastic action, hospitals will be overwhelmed in two or three weeks, heroic health professionals will be dying at higher rates, and remaining doctors will have to decide who lives and who dies. Don’t become one of those casualties. Protect them, yourself, and those around you.
Use this source for daily future updates, interactive maps, and reliable information in days to come: https://www.nytimes.com
COVID -19 UPDATES
WEDNESDAY March 18, 2020, 8am
Here is what has changed in the past week:
- The WHO declared a worldwide pandemic last Wednesday
- Italy is probably the worst hit, with hospitals completely overwhelmed; Iran may be worse, but we have no reliable information from there.
- France announced a nationwide lockdown two days ago, noting a rise in severe cases in young people around the country.
- The U.S. President announced a national emergency & discouraged gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Testing became more widespread, but still lags far behind that in other countries.
- Testing proved that the virus is being spread by people who have no symptoms, mainly the young; the young may not know it, but they are killing the old.
- Stock markets crashed & economies shut down in many countries and U.S. states.
Here is where we are this morning:
- Many leading U.S. hospitals are seeing a dramatic rise in cases and expect to be overwhelmed soon.
- Many governors are calling for U.S. army and other national aid that isn’t there yet.
- Approximately 3,500 cases are identified in the U.S.; experts say there are 10 unidentified cases for every identified one, so the real number is around 35,000.
- Despite lockdown in many areas & the closing of restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, sports events, etc. by law, experts agree social distancing is far less than needed.
- Hospitals are running out of supplies needed to protect health care workers.
- Ventilators (respirators; breathing machines) cannot be manufactured fast enough to keep up with the need; doctors will have to decide who will get treatment & who will be let go of, just like in a war zone.
- Doctors and nurses are getting the virus from their patients and going home; they cannot be replaced, even if machines and supplies can.
- The Secretary of the Treasury now warns that U.S. unemployment can go from 3 to 20 percent.
- Economists widely agree that we are in or are “sliding into” a recession which cannot be avoided, and which could be worse than the Great Recession of 2008.
- No one can tell us how long this will last or how bad it will get.
- Epidemics in warm countries seem to disconfirm the hypothesis that summer weather reduces the number of cases.
My advice to you right now:
- Stay home and urge anyone in your family who is not performing a vital service (hospital work, food and medicine deliveries, grocery stores, pharmacies) to stay home too.
- Maintain contact with friends and family by phone, Skype, etc.
- If you must leave your home, stay six feet away from any other person.
- If you have traveled anywhere by air, train, or bus, stay away from your grandparents & all older people for at least 14 days. Stay in touch with older people by phone & have food and medicine delivered to them if you can.
- Develop, & urge everyone you know to develop, skills for working, preventing isolation & sadness, & being entertained at home. If you must get out, walk in the woods or in a park where you can avoid getting within 6 feet of another person. If you have to walk the dog, use the same precautions.
- If you are coughing & sneezing without a fever, stay home & call your doctor. Do not just show up at a medical office or emergency room. Get a test if you can find one.
- If you develop a fever and feel very weak, call 911.
- If you are in the U.S., check the CDC web page every day:
- Wherever you are, check your national, state or provincial, and city or local health department websites every day.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds many times a day; avoid touching your face as much as possible; frequently wipe down all surfaces from cell phones to kitchen counters with alcohol wipes; gloves & masks are in short supply, so use them wisely.
(Note: the photo above shows viruses in the coronavirus family, not SARS-COV-2, the causal agent of COVID-19, currently pandemic.)