Think It’s Bad Now? Wait 4 Weeks; Virus Lives on Cardboard; US Hospitals Totally Unprepared for Demand Seen in Italy; Iran Warns Virus May Kill ‘Millions’ There

COVID-19 ‘Worry About 4 Weeks From Now,’ Researchers Warn

By Neuroscience News. As the U.S. takes early “social distancing” steps, a Harvard epidemiologist is urging the nation to walk away faster, saying there’s danger in ambling down a path similar to Italy, where three coronavirus cases four weeks ago blossomed into 10,000, leading to more than 600 deaths, an overstressed health care system, and a land shuttered.

Epidemiology Professor Marc Lipsitch, head of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, called the pace of coronavirus testing in the U.S. “utterly inadequate” and “a debacle” that robs public health officials of information crucial to devising an effective response and protecting health care workers. Testing has been so slow that no one knows the extent of the U.S. epidemic, though scientists guess at somewhere between “tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands” of cases.

With COVID-19 cases thought to double every five to seven days, their spread can occur rapidly, and it is critical that steps taken so far — canceling business meetings, working from home when possible, moving college classes online, postponing conferences — become more widespread, before circumstances become critical.

“The situation we should be worrying about is the situation four weeks from now, not the situation now,” Lipsitch said. “That’s hard for people to get their heads around, but it’s really important.”

While questions exist about the virus’ transmissibility outdoors versus indoors, the crowds at gatherings such as St. Patrick’s Day parades, the Boston Marathon, and the Indy 500 auto race call into question whether even those signature events should be held. Officials already have canceled Boston’s St. Patrick’s parade. (Read more from “US Hospitals Totally Unprepared:‘Worry About 4 Weeks From Now,’ Researchers Warn” HERE)

People May Get Virus From Touching Cardboard

By David Aaro. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine . . . found the virus is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces.

“The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel,” according to the NIH.

The study mimicked the virus being transmitted from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting by coughing or touching objects, the agency said. Scientists then investigated how long the virus remained infectious on these surfaces

“The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects, according to the NIH. (Read more about Hospitals Totally Unprepared HERE)

[H]ealth officials say that the American healthcare system may not be prepared for what comes next if residents don’t heed warnings to limit their interactions.

“The bottom line is things will get much worse,” Dr. James Phillips, an assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN Tuesday night. “We need to focus on keeping people on the front lines in the fight so we can continue to provide care to the patients. In the long run, this is about patients and keeping people from getting sick and dying [but we’re] at a significant risk of overwhelming the number of beds we have.”

. . .With the measures, leaders hope to slow the spread of the virus and prevent the country’s healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. As it is, there aren’t enough hospital beds, medical staff or equipment to handle the spike in cases that could come, healthcare professionals say. . .

“We have a choice to make — do we want to really lean into social distancing and mitigation strategies and flatten the curve or do we just want to keep going on with business as usual and end up being Italy?” [Trump’s Surgeon General Dr. Jerome] Adams said. (Read more about Hospitals Totally Unprepared for What May be Coming HERE)


Iran: Millions Could Die

By AP News. Iran issued its most dire warning yet Tuesday about the new coronavirus ravaging the country, suggesting “millions” could die in the Islamic Republic if people keep traveling and ignore health guidance.

A state TV journalist who also is a medical doctor gave the warning only hours after hard-line Shiite faithful on Monday night pushed their way into the courtyards of two major shrines that were finally closed due to the virus. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious ruling prohibiting “unnecessary” travel.

Roughly 9 out of 10 of the over 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the Middle East come from Iran, where authorities denied for days the risk the outbreak posed. Officials have implemented new checks for people trying to leave major cities ahead of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Friday, but have hesitated to quarantine the areas. (Read more from “Iranian Hospitals Totally Unprepared: Islamic Republic Warns Virus Could Kill ‘Millions’ in Islamic Republic” HERE)

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