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  • Writer's pictureJodi Samuels


1.    For people trivializing the pandemic – the issue is not whether YOU will contract the disease or not – even if you do the risk of young healthy people dying is low. The issue is about vulnerable populations. There are many people out there that have a bona fide concern and risk - effect the health of the elderly, immune-compromised, sick or pregnant. The risk of overwhelming health care systems with people needing hospitalization and intensive care support. What about the global economic repercussions? 2.    President Trump has said the most ridiculously stupid things about the virus and seem to be more worried about the economy than the need for containment. Rick Santelli on TV suggests giving everyone the virus to stop the madness. At that rate, if all 329 million Americans were infected at once, as Santelli suggested, the death toll would top 11 million and the entire medical system would collapse. I wonder if he thinks people who have lost relatives or friends to the virus find his insensitive and glib attempt at comedy funny? Several people have even forwarded messages received from their Doctor’s office that are blatantly factually incorrect and not inline with WHO and CDC assessments of the situation. 3.    Ignorant people (including Governor Cuomo) are pointing to the number of deaths per year from seasonal flu saying that that number is much higher than the number of deaths from coronavirus. This is true but absolute numbers at this point are irrelevant. Seasonal flu has a mortality rate of about 0.1%. The coronavirus has a mortality rate of 3.4% according to WHO data. We are just at the beginning of this epidemic and it is extremely contagious – much more contagious that flu. Models of spread and consequent fatalities from coronavirus are potentially horrifying. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 killed over 25 million people and that had a mortality rate of 2-3%. While we do have better supportive medical care today, we still do not have an effective antiviral therapy one hundred years later and global travel could make spread much worse. 4.    Infected people may be asymptomatic for up to 14 days while infecting others. This is a particularly worrying and was not seen in MERS and SARS. Flu also has a much shorter contagious and asymptomatic period. 5.    The US as of February 2020 had 29 million flu cases and 16000 deaths. Just 480,000 cases of coronavirus would also result in 16000 deaths. 6.    The US is not prepared for an epidemic. A moderate scenario might be a million hospitalizations — meaning 200,000 people would need to be in the intensive care unit, and 64,000 people would need breathing machines, said CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta. Unlike China who built hospitals and increased their capability the US is doing very little to plan. 7.    The US has tests just 1500 people vs South Korea 150,000. Drive through testing stations in South Korea test 300 people a day. The US medical establishment has recognized that there may be hundreds of un-diagnosed cases. The US has had limited testing capability and only now are states getting the ability to test everyone with symptoms. VP Pence admitted on TV that the US does not have close to enough tests. This means there could be thousands of asymptotic people who are highly contagious walking around. They are expecting much bigger outbreaks as has started in Washington State. 8.    Quarantine when followed properly is extremely effective in preventing or at least slowing the spread. It’s not perfect but it can reduce spread by 70 percent! The Israeli Ministry of Health has done a superb job of developing and rapidly implementing a well-thought through quarantine program. Israelis are generally following the restrictions and so far, there appears to be excellent containment in Israel. 9.    If people had the same amount of paranoia for fact checking before they spread incorrect information- such as stock piling Purell or toilet paper we would be in a much better place. 10. If you are going to post things on social media please make sure the information is correct and from a reliable scientific source. Keep any weird, non-scientifically accurate conspiracy theories to yourself. At minimum don’t contribute to the potential epidemiological disaster. I am not advocating panic and hysteria. On the contrary, what is needed a cool, calm and well-informed approach is needed. Governments and local authorities have a responsibility to establish sound protocols to protect the population.


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