Update: Governor Abbott will address this Friday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to make an announcement later today on when our state will re-open. My sources in the healthcare industry tell me that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas are running heaviest south of the Trinity. Methodist has been hammered with 80 patients. Parkland has about 40 and there are 20 at UTHSC. The city’s remaining hospitals are dotted with double digit cases, too, but the good news is those numbers have stayed the same over the last two weeks and DFW did not get a surge, as was so feared. Not yet. We likely peak in two weeks. Bed occupancy at area hospitals has stabilized at 50 to 55 percent, and military physicians are at hospitals to assist with patient care.
And yes, I am as tired of quarantine as everyone, but believe it was entirely necessary. According to a Gallup poll, more than 8 in 10 Americans say they will wait to resume normal activities even after the mitigation restrictions are lifted. No surprise, people who lived in small towns and rural areas were “more likely to say they would resume their normal activities immediately, at 23 percent, compared to just 15 percent of people in cities and 18 percent of people in suburbs.”
No matter where we live, we are heading for a different kind of normal: as 9/11 changed security in our airports, COVID-19 is going to change the way we live, interact, travel, and build. New York state is ordering everyone to wear masks in public; Texas may do the same. I’ve already been talking to experts in the ultraviolet light industry who tell me it will be a matter of months when condos and apartments, maybe even homes, will have UV lights in the ceiling to sanitize entire rooms.
Personal hygiene is going to be paramount. We will keep our homes and public spaces cleaner, with both technology and good old scrubbing. Open houses will be on the decline, tech-enabled viewings taking their place. Soon we will likely be using our cell phones to identify our antibodies or lack thereof and be forewarned of hotspots.
Social distancing is here to stay.
“I wish we could call it something else,” said Dave Perry-Miller, the Dallas Realtor whose name is on the door of an Ebby Halliday company, from his home quarantine in Virginia. “It’s really Virus Distancing. We are still able to be social, people just from six feet away.”
Dave asked: Will it be like this forever?
Pandemic Expert: What Inning Are We In?
Found this great roadmap of sorts in the Houston Chronicle: an interview with Gerald Parker at Texas A&M University. Parker directs the Bush School’s biosecurity and pandemic public policy program and is also associate dean of Global One Health. Even better, he has been in D.C bigtime: deputy assistant for chemical and biological defense at the U.S. Department of Defense, and public health preparedness expert at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he led preparation for public health emergencies.
There are, says Parker, five stages to beating this coronavirus: like it or not, we are only in stage two.
Phase one is containment, trying to keep the virus from getting here and spreading in the community. We all know that story.
Containment really started at the end of January, when the United States declared a public health emergency, and the president imposed traveled travel restrictions and travel bans from China. That was to try to slow the spread of the virus from China into the United States. And it did.
Yeah, but the New York Times recently reported that Covid-19 was seeded by European travellers, so those China travel restrictions did nada. And they came after the Washington state seeding on the west coast. In late February, we moved to community spread, transitioning to Phase Two, mitigation. Which is where we are now, trying to slow the spread of virus through our communities.
Whats are stages three, four and five?
Phase Three is a second stage of containment as we wait for the vaccine to deploy, and that’s 12 to 18 months from now.
Phase Four is a third stage of containment once we have a vaccine.
Phase Five is getting ready for the next pandemic.
We have had plenty of dress rehearsals for this pandemic, but we got complacent and were not prepared. The author, a specialist, also outlines how dangerous it is to have outsourced our supply chains for pharmaceuticals and PPE’s. Going forward, this needs to change asap:
I think we are seeing the dangerous vulnerability of our supply chains. Even before COVID happened, over 80% of the active ingredients for all of our pharmaceuticals are sourced in China. That’s a dangerous dependency on one country. The same goes for personal protective equipment. Most of the world’s N95 respirators — the masks that medical workers are are in dire need of right now — are manufactured In China.
COVID-19 has been a wake-up call. Some of the pharmaceuticals that we need and the N95 masks have been nationalized by China. It’s no surprise that they nationalize those stocks in their country to take care of their population. That’s only natural.
The same thing happened to the U.S. during the 2009 pandemic. We at HHS had a contract for influenza vaccines with an Australian manufacturer. Despite our contract delivery requirements and so forth, our deliveries were delayed until the Australian population was covered.
So we’ve got to address this dangerous vulnerability for national security with pharmaceuticals. We should not be relying on just one country for some of our basic pharmaceuticals, like heparin.
There’s a lot of legislation already in Congress to begin to address this. There probably will be an increase in the prices we pay for some drugs. But we’re going to have to incentivize industry in a way that they will want to make some of these things in the United States.
We cannot rely on having everything manufactured in China. But we essentially are now.