Coronavirus Update: Preparing in the Face of a Possible Pandemic
“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”
A CDC official has given a warning about the coronavirus: We should be bracing for the likelihood the virus now hitting hot spots around the globe will spread to communities in the U.S.
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more, but a question of when this will happen,” says Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar was on Capitol Hill today formally requesting an addition $2.5 billion to fight the virus. “We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” he said, “And we need to be realistic about that.”
Here is the worldwide toll as of this writing:
For up to the minute statistics, click this link.
The questions of the hour: Do we need to worry? How do we prepare?
Not Given a Spirit of Fear
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” Paul wrote to Timothy. From its first days, the Christian church has boldly and bravely faced plagues and epidemics. The lack of fear, the willingness to treat the infected, was one of the new church’s most profound witnesses.
Today, in the face of a potential pandemic we’re not going to walk in fear. But we must walk with a sound mind.
The World Health Organization offers basic protective measures against the coronavirus. Or as this strain is known, COVID-19.
- Wash your hands frequently
- Maintain social distancing — keep a three foot distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Practice respiratory hygiene — That means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
- Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
Dr. Mark Rupp is Chief of University of Nebraska Medical Center Division of Infectious Diseases. His center has treated 14 patients thus far who tested positive for COVID-19. He told Fox News Tuesday now is the time to start developing other habits that decrease our chances of a catching a virus.
“Rather than giving people a handshake, maybe we should just give them a little bow.”
“Rather than touching elevator buttons with the top of your finger, touch it with a knuckle that you’re not likely to use to contaminate yourself.”
“And start to have some common sense plans at home.”
Prepare as if you were going to be told you couldn’t leave the house. Think: What would you need if you were suddenly quarantined? Now’s the time. You don’t want to wait too much longer. Consider Italy. Italians woke up the other day to discover their nation had seen an ominous spike in coronavirus cases. Today, news reports out of Italy show grocery store shelves being cleaned out.
Remember Proverbs 30:25, “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.”
It is also time for us to prepare mentally for non-medical impact of a pandemic. The global economy depends on global trade, and if trade is interrupted, the effects downwind will disrupt our lives even if we never get a sniffle. That’s why the stock market is down nearly 1800 points in two days.
Let’s give an “entertaining” example. Yesterday, filming on Mission Impossible VII was shut down in Italy over fears of the virus there. The entire, massive production team is returning to America. A film is nothing. But consider it a canary in the coal mine. Factories in China have already shut down. Factories that supply American companies. As The Washington Post notes, U.S. firms are already “awaiting a dizzying array of products, from diesel engines to dolls’ hair.” The next few weeks will be crucial.
What if a significant number of factories around the world shut down? Samsung, for example, has temporarily shut down a factory in South Korea. If the situation continues to deteriorate there, we could see further shutdowns.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and South Korea are considering scaling back joint military training exercises because of the virus.
A Possible Vaccine
The U.S. isn’t just playing defense. The first clinical trial in the U.S. is underway to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19 called Remdesivir. The National Institutes of Health announced the trial Tuesday. Gilead Sciences developed the drug. WHO announced Monday Remdesivir has shown signs it can help treat COVID-19 symptoms. Trials taking place at University of Nebraska Medical Center and in China.
Results of the trial are expected to be announced by the end of April.
Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream and co-author, with @JZmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl. And if you aren’t already, please follow The Stream at @Streamdotorg.