COVID-19 is spreading, and you may not know you’re infected until you’ve already infected others. It’s a challenge like we as a nation—and a world—have never experienced before.
A bi-partisan group of more than twenty public health professionals has released an open letter with recommendations for immediate steps that can be taken to mitigate the worst potential impacts of this pandemic.
Fortunately, there’s something that many of us can do to help stop the spread--#StayHome and let frontline workers do their jobs.
#StayHome. It could save someone’s life. We’re all in this together.
Originally published March 15, 2020 in USA Today:
We are concerned health care professionals.
The pandemic seemed so far away just weeks ago.
No one likes to be isolated and sit at home and be bored.
You want to be near friends as you work from home.
The numbers you’re hearing about the virus seem too big to believe.
You’re worried about your neighbors and the impact on local businesses and workers
You feel healthy, and how much worse can it be than the flu, after all?
COVID-19 is spreading, and you won’t know you’re infected until you’ve already infected others. Right now you have no immunity to prevent you from getting the disease. It’s especially lethal for older people or those with underlying conditions. This will come to communities in waves and will be a marathon, not a sprint, so pay attention to local events. And our hospitals won’t have sufficient resources— people, beds, ventilators, or protective gear-- if cases keep spreading as fast as they are in Italy.
But there’s something important you can do. #StayHome
STAY AT HOME as much as possible. It may be in your community now or it may be soon. Until you hear otherwise from health care officials, even if you have no symptoms. That means avoiding playdates, sleepovers, bars, restaurants, parties, or houses of worship. Avoid all crowds.
WHAT CAN YOU DO INSTEAD?
You can still take walks outside, shop for essentials, and enjoy your online community of friends.
Stay connected in other ways. Check in on your loved ones and friends frequently.
Keep informed about what is happening in your neighborhood.
Give to people in need in your community; food pantries, financial donations, personal hygiene items.
Buy online gift certificates to your favorite local stores and restaurants--and use them when this is over.
Be a neat freak. Keep everything as clean as possible.
Wash your hands. Early, often, thoroughly.
If you’re going to spread anything, spread help, compassion, and humor.
Above all, do not panic. Remember: Like all outbreaks, this too will eventually end.
If you’ve been infected and recovered already, you are highly likely to be immune. If so, you can serve your community in public spaces where others can’t.
TO STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS
Prioritize the most vulnerable in your community-- the elderly, the sick, and those living in close quarters.
Temporarily close bars and restaurants when there is evidence of rising community transmission.
Work with Congress to provide continued economic support for your constituents most urgently affected by the pandemic’s financial blow.
Consider temporary suspension of all commercial air and rail travel.
Ensure the safety and resources needed for your health care workforce. Health care and critical infrastructure workers should have the highest priority for personal protective equipment.
Make rapid expansion of COVID-19 testing a top priority. Open drive-through testing stations and at-home care.
Make prescription drug supply and other necessities in your community a priority.
Provide immediate training for all medical providers to join the effort wherever they can be most useful.
Honor cross-state medical licensing for all healthcare providers until the pandemic is over.
Prepare large spaces (stadiums, hotels) to become quarantine residences, as needed.
Coordinate with the National Guard to provide surge ICU capacity for communities in need.
Create fever clinics for triage.
Re-evaluate any regulations that impede the above (or below).
TO HEALTH CARE WORKERS
We know you are in uncharted waters and are standing on the front lines. All of us depend on your training, your compassion, your commitment, and your untapped capacity.
If you have not yet joined this fight, please reach out to your local hospital and find out how you can enlist.
Contact telemedicine platforms and offer your services.
Stop all elective surgical and medical procedures now.
Send people home if it’s safest for them to be at home.
Reinforce the benefit of staying home and getting tested.
Help the people on the front lines do their jobs. Focused and united, we can avoid the worst possibilities. It’s up to all of us. As a country, we can overcome this together.
The undersigned are concerned health care professionals:
Andy Slavitt, MBA - Former Acting Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Bill Frist, MD - Former Senate Majority Leader
Asaf Bitton, MD MPH - Executive Director, Ariadne Labs, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Lanhee J. Chen, PhD - David and Diane Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Ezekiel Emanuel, MD PhD - Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
Atul Gawande, MD MPH - CEO, Haven; Professor, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Sandra Hernandez, MD - President and CEO of California Health Care Foundation
Bob Kocher, MD - Former Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy
Vivek H. Murthy, MD MBA - 19th Surgeon General of the United States
Michael Osterholm, PhD MPH - Regents Professor and Director, Center for Infectious Disease and Research & Policy, University of Minnesota
DJ Patil, PhD - Former US Chief Data Scientist
Jennifer Peña, MD - Former White House Physician (Obama administration) and Primary Physician to Vice President Pence
Jordan Shlain, MD - Internal Medicine, former Commissioner, Health Services System Board, San Francisco
Eric Topol, MD - Founder and Director, Scripps Research Translational Institute
Leana Wen, MD MSc - Former Baltimore City Health Commissioner and Visiting Professor at George Washington University School of Public Health
Michelle A. Williams, ScD - Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development
Additional support from the following health care and health policy leaders:
Mike Leavitt - Founder, Leavitt Partners and Former Utah Governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary
Donald M. Berwick, MD - President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
J. Mario Molina, MD - former CEO of Molina Healthcare and President of Golden Shore Medical Group
Janis M. Orlowski, MD MACP - Chief Health Care Officer, Association of American Medical Colleges
Jeff Tangney, MBA - CEO and Co-Founder, Doximity
Frances F. Townsend, JD - Former Assistant to President George W. Bush, Homeland Security Advisor, Author of the 2006 National Strategy for an Influenza Outbreak