Sign In Forgot Password

Covid 19 Information from the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

From  the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

as of March 24, 2020

Today’s update will cover the Federal legislation passed by Congress, the role the U.S. Census plays in all of this, and how H-E-B is making the news during this crisis.  

 

Federal Legislation

There are three main pieces of Federal legislation I will cover in this email: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations ActFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT).    

 

The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on March 6, 2020. This Act was the first emergency relief aid package approved by Congress in response to the COVID19 crisis.

  • Released $8.3 billion to cover testing, increased salaries and expenses related to the crisis, and helped lower the costs associated with related medical treatments.

 

On March 18th, Congress passed and the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This piece of legislation had a broader impact than the prior bill. It addressed paid sick and family leave, tax credits for employers, food and nutrition programs, unemployment insurance grants to states, and Medicaid. Here is a brief summary of provisions relevant to nonprofits:

  • Paid Leave – applies to all public sector employers and private sector employers with less than 500 employees
      • Paid Sick Leave: must provide paid sick leave for 2 weeks for full time employees and average hours worked for a 2 week period for part-time employees
      • Paid Family and Medical Leave: up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for a child whose school has closed; first 10 days unpaid but can use other accrued leave; employers required to pay 2/3 of wages (up to $200/day and $10K aggregate)
        • Nonprofits are subject to the FMLA
        • Labor Department is authorized to exclude health care providers and business with >50 employees
      • Tax Credits: employers can claim 100% refundable payroll tax credit associated with this paid leave (nonprofits can apply tax credits to payroll taxes)
  • Unemployment Insurance – States apply for funds and administer
    • $1 billion for emergency grants to states for activities related to unemployment insurance benefits
    • Provides financial support to nonprofit employees laid off during this crisis
    • The Secretary of Labor is required to provide technical assistance to states to address: work-share, reduced hours in lieu of layoffs, partial unemployment
  • Food and Nutrition – States apply for funds and administer them through state run programs
    • $1 billion for nutrition programs
      • $500 million for WIC recipients who lost their jobs due to the crisis
      • $400 million for Emergency Food Assistance Programs (food banks) 
      • SNAP assistance for children who would have received free lunch program at school
      • $100 million for U.S. territories
      • $250 million for senior nutrition program for home delivered meals to low-income seniors (administered through Administration for Community Living via States)      
    • Medicaid
      • Temporarily increases Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 6.2%

 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) passed the Senate on Wednesday and just passed by voice vote today in the House. It now goes to the President for signature.

  • This is a mammoth bill—over 245 pages long and a price tag of $2.2 trillion. Organizations across the U.S. are trying to give their summary on the bill as quickly as possible.
  • Here’s what it means for Jewish Nonprofits
    • The Jewish Federations of North America have put together a great resource page for small business and nonprofit loans here
      • From JFNA: Most Jewish nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees — Federations, JCCs, synagogues, schools, human services organizations, Jewish summer camps, Hillels, youth organizations, engagement organizations and others — can get the necessary funds to help them through the critical months ahead and keep their organization running
      • Details are coming…so stay tuned!
  • Here’s what it means for individuals: 
    • All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate
    • In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per child. For the vast majority of people, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return
    • This includes many low-income individuals who file a tax return in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
    • Provides up to 90 days of forbearance for multifamily borrowers with a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan who have experienced a financial hardship. Borrowers receiving forbearance may not evict or charge late fees to tenants for the duration of the forbearance period.
    • For 120 days beginning on the date of enactment, landlords are prohibited from initiating legal action to recover possession of a rental unit or to charge fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to such nonpayment of rent where the landlord’s mortgage on that property is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted in any way by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
  • Here are some general summaries on the bill:
    • Gibson and Dunn put together a 22 page summary of the bill here
    • NPR has a breakdown of the bill by sector here
    • Independent Sector, a nonprofit think tank in D.C., put out a summary on all provisions affecting the charitable sector
    • The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) announced they will also be breaking the bill down for the business sector

 

As more information becomes available, I will be sure to share it with you.

 

A quick note on the U.S. Census and how it plays into all of these relief bills. For the most part, all the COVID19 relief funds will be administered by the individual States. The amount of funds per State is typically allocated by the last Census count—the more people in your State, the more dollars you get. It also affects the funds for safety-net programs like CHIP, WIC, Medicare and Medicaid. As community leaders, it is in our best interest to encourage people to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census so more federal funds flow to our area.

 

Finally, one encouraging article about how H-E-B prepared and responded to this pandemic has made national news. For an interesting read, check out Texas Monthly’s article on how “no store does more”.

 

as of March 24, 2020

 This morning during a press conference, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a Stay Home, Work Safe order for all of Harris County, including the City of Houston. The order is effective tonight at 11:59 p.m. through April 3rd. The County Judge and Mayor underscored that this is not shelter in place. Rather it is a measure to restrict movement throughout Harris County—not halt it. Mayor Turner explained that shelter in place is reserved for hurricanes, chemical plant fires, flooding, and active shooting incidents—events that make it unsafe to go outside. Here is what Stay Home, Work Safe means:

  • Everyone should stay home unless your job is part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce (attached is a graphic, I put some examples to the major ones affecting our daily activities): 
    • Chemical Sector
    • Commercial Facilities Sector
    • Communications Sector
    • Critical Manufacturing Sector
    • Dams Sector
    • Defense Industrial Base Sector
    • Emergency Services Sector (police, fire and EMT will still operate)
    • Energy Sector (gas stations will remain open)
    • Financial Services Sector
    • Food and Agriculture Sector (restaurants, big box stores, grocery stores remain open)
    • Government Facilities Sector (still have mail and trash service )
    • Healthcare and Public Health Sector (Texas Medical Center, doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, hospitals remain open)
    • Information Technology Sector
    • Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector
    • Transportation Systems Sector (METRO will remain in service)
    • Water and Wastewater Systems Sector (will still have water, sewer service)
  • Persons allowed to work must do so safely, keeping 6 feet between employees
  • Manufacturing businesses who can retool to produce essential medical supplies like hand sanitizer or face masks can ask for an exemption
  • All gatherings outside of a private home are prohibited, inside the home are limited to members of that household
  • You can still do the following activities, if you keep 6 feet between you and others:
    • Go to the grocery store
    • See your physician/receive medical care
    • Go to the pharmacy
    • Exercise outside (but cannot use playground or exercise equipment)
  • Violations will be addressed though local law enforcement, penalties can include:
    • A fine
    • Up to 180 days in jail

 

Harris County and the City of Houston are still providing COVID19 testing. District C Councilmember Abbie Kamin sent a great list of public and private testing in our area:

  • Houston Health Department and Harris Health Department
    • Testing is free and available for people who have symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing, and fever) as well as chronic illness.
      • Examples of chronic illnesses include heart disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS. Transplant recipients, people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are also eligible for COVID-19 testing.
    • You can fill out the online screening tool or call the Houston Health Department COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Anyone requiring technical assistance or translations services is encouraged to call the Harris County Public Health call bank, which is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 832-927-7575.
    • The health departments are not releasing the locations of the sites to prevent people from showing up without first going through the online screening process (if someone shows up without the initial screening they will not be able to be tested).
  • Private testing locations include:
    • United Memorial Medical Center has free COVID-19 testing at 510 W. Tidwell Road. The testing program is initially testing only the highest-risk individuals. You are required to fill out the pre-screening test online before you show up (click here for the test). Testing hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Legacy Community Health has COVID-19 testing at three of its locations in Houston: Montrose (1415 California St.), Fifth Ward (3811 Lyons Ave.), and Southwest (6441 High Star Dr.). Legacy is only testing those who screen positive for the virus, meaning:
      • People who are experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other respiratory conditions, AND
      • Have either traveled recently (domestic or international) OR had contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19
      • Patients with questions should call a primary care physician or Legacy’s contact center at 832-548-5000.
    • MD Anderson’s Diagnostic Imaging Clinic in Bellaire is offering COVID-19 testing to current MD Anderson patients and employees only.
      • Testing is by appointment only and no walk-ins are permitted. Current MD Anderson patients who think they may need testing must call their MD Anderson clinic for further direction.
    • My Family Doctor has one drive-thru testing facility, at 6430 Hillcroft Ave., open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      • They are only testing those with fever and/or symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g., dry cough). Priorities include older adults and people with chronic medical conditions.
      • This testing site is currently cash only. You’ll need $25 cash even if you have insurance coverage. They advise all patients to bring $150 cash for the test just in case they cannot verify your insurance.

As a reminder, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should contact a doctor first. If you don't have health insurance or a doctor, please call Harris County's triage line at 713-634-1110 any day from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. with questions.

as of March 23, 2020

Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo held a press conference to brief the public on the status of social distancing and the county’s testing sites. I will go over the press conference, what a “stay-at-home” order may look like, a call to action for Congress, Walker County’s curfew, and one interesting thing I learned today. I anticipate more developments later this afternoon, so I will keep this email brief.

 

There is no “stay-at-home” order currently, but are still requiring social distancing:

  • Will not be called “shelter in place” because it does not describe what is being asked
    • Shelter in place typically is used during hurricanes or other natural disasters
    • Requires people not to leave their homes
    • Stay-at-home will allow people to leave for essential services
  • Harris County and the City of Houston are still assessing what services are considered “essential” before making a determination of a stay-at-home order

Harris County has opened two testing sites, bringing the total public sites to three (City of Houston has one):

  • Each site has the capacity to test 250 people per day
  • Must complete an online assessment at www.ReadyHarris.org
  • Can also call 832-927-7575
  • 3 step  process:
    • Online screening (or by phone if no internet access)
    • Phone assessment
    • In-person test (will be given unique code)
  • Only people who are symptomatic will be tested
  • Priority testing will go to
    • First responders
    • Health care workers
    • People 65+
    • People at higher risk due to existing medical conditions

 

There have been a lot of questions around what a stay-at-home order will require. Looking at other large cities, here is my best guess of what we can expect:

  • Can still go out for essential activities
    • Can leave to get medical supplies
    • Exercise (so long as you social distance)
    • Go to the doctor for medical services
    • Can still get groceries/household supplies 
    • Essential retail may remain open: examples may include HEB, Target, pet food stores, gas stations, etc
  • Basically, this will not be a shelter in place like what we experienced during Hurricane Harvey. People will still be able to run essential errands as needed.

 

Walker County, Texas (Huntsville), has issued a curfew from midnight to 5 am. Not a lot of people know why or what it is supposed to accomplish. I would not expect a curfew for Houston or Harris County any time soon.

 

The U.S. Congress is still negotiating the massive COVID19 stimulus bill (we are talking $2 trillion—the largest stimulus bill we have ever seen). The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has a call to action to urge Congress to include the nonprofit sector in these aid packages. You can find sample language from JFNA here.    

 

Finally, an interesting story. The U.S. Navy will be deploying two hospital ships, one to Los Angeles and one to New York, in order to help free up hospital space in those areas. When I read about this, my first thought was “we have Naval hospital ships?” If you want a break from the normal COVID19 chatter, I suggest reading about these fascinating boats, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy.

as of March 22, 2020

Gov. Abbott issued a new executive order, effective immediately and until midnight on April 21st, to increase hospital capacity and conserve necessary supplies for our health care system. Here is an overview of the press conference:

  • Executive Order to increase hospital capacity
    • All hospitals and doctors must postpone all surgeries and procedures not deemed medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or preserve life
      • Procedures that do not use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or take up bed space that could be used to treat COVID-19 may continue
      • My analysis: if you have an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require your doctor to wear a mask, you can probably proceed – but I would call in advance and check with your medical provider
    • The Governor suspended several rules in order to increase the number of nurses and beds in hospitals
      • He waived several requirements for retired, inactive, out-of-state, and students near the end of their nursing coursework so they may reactivate their licenses or fast-track to a temporary license
      • Bed limits have been waived in order to allow multiple patients with COVID19 to be treated in the same room
  • The Governor has asked that people comply with the social distancing order, if not penalties will be enforced. They include:
    • fines up to $1000
    • jail for 180 days
    • mandatory quarantine
  • The Governor announced a “strike force” to help with procuring necessary PPEs and testing supplies. Members include:
    • Keith Miears, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Procurement at Dell Technologies, to serve as Supply Chain Director for the state of Texas
    • State Representative John Zerwas, MD, will assist with hospital relations and preparedness
    • Clint Harp, Vice President of Transmission Strategic Services for the Lower Colorado River Authority, will assist with asset research and procurement, and
    • Elaine Mendoza, Chair of the A&M Board of Regents, will assist with statewide childcare infrastructure for critical workers
  • Finally, the Governor announced that beginning next week, the National Guard will be deployed to major cities in Texas to:
    • Help local hospitals
    • Assist with managing drive thru testing sites
    • Stand up additional health care facilities (medical tents, reactivating recently vacated medical facilities) 

 

Here is a brief update on COVID-19 testing in our area:

  • Texas has 566 confirmed cases of COVD-19, but officials recognize this is a severe undercount due to lack of testing and confirmed presence of community spread
  • Texas is ramping up its testing capabilities
    • Houston now has several testing sites (private and public)
      • The City now has a free drive thru testing site
        • Must speak with a live nurse for second screening
        • Then will be giving a unique code, only those with a code will be given testing location
          • Just showing up to a testing location will not result in being tested, only those with a code will be tested
        • The site will collect insurance information but will not take payments
      • City of Houston Criteria for testing
        • First responders
        • Medical professionals
        • 65 and older, with symptoms
        • People with chronic illnesses
      • Call the Houston Health Department’s COVID-19 call center at 832-393-4220 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to get pre-screened
      • Harris County residents can call 713-634-1110 daily 9 a.m. -7 p.m. for COVID-19 related health questions
    • If you have mild to moderate symptoms, officials are asking that you do the following:
      • Stay home when you are sick
      • Do not go out in public when you are sick
      • Avoid medical settings in general unless necessary
      • If you are ill in any way, call your doctor’s office first before going in
      • Do not go to the emergency room unless it’s a medical emergency. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
      • If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact a healthcare professional. You must call ahead before going
        • You will likely be asked to stay at home unless your condition worsens
      • The CDC has guidelines for when to discontinue home isolation
    • Please note that there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat COVID-19, although there are several hundred clinical trials across the globe
    • City Council Member Abbie Kamin has created a resource spreadsheet with helpful information

 

There is no shelter-in-place order for the City of Houston or Harris County, but during his press conference today, the Governor did encourage the large cities to make the call.

as of March 20, 2020


Update on COVID-19 Cases:

  • There are 79 confirmed (tested) cases in the Greater Houston Region
  • There are 11 confirmed (tested) cases in Houston
  • These are an undercount due to lack of testing, should expect a huge jump once we have more testing sites up and running
    • Public sites
      • The CDC has authorized four public sites for our area
        • 2 will be City of Houston
          • The first City site will open today for first responders and medical workers only
          • Hope to have the other one open next week
          • Locations will not be announced in order to prevent people from just showing up, must pre-screen for symptoms
        • 2 will be Harris County
    • Private sites

 

Religious Institutions

  • Should practice social distancing as much as possible
    • Religious organizations were not specifically mentioned in the Governor’s or Mayor’s orders to limit crowd size, but are highly encouraged to take guidelines seriously and limit congregant contact
  • Funerals and Weddings
    • Still can hold religious ceremonies, just need to practice social distancing
      • Several area funeral providers are limiting cars to grave-side funerals to 10 or less, including the hearse and lead car. Please make sure to call in advance and ask about specific restrictions.
  • There are several disaster relief bills on the Federal and State level
    • The Mayor is not aware of any bill providing direct relief to nonprofits or religious institutions
    • He encouraged people to reach out to their representatives and ask that those organizations be included
  • *Separately, the Jewish Federations of North America have put out the same call to action
    • They have sample language to guide you when speaking with your representatives 

 

City of Houston Assistance

  • The City will be offering relief efforts to individuals in the following ways:
    • Evictions will be stayed for 30 days
      • Harris County has also stopped eviction proceedings during this time of emergency
    • Water will not be disconnected through the end of April
    • Electricity will not be disconnected through the end of April

 

Community Resources

 

I wanted to share several resources with you all as we wind down and prepare for the unknown future:

 

Please continue to order take-out and delivery from our Kosher eateries. They need your help in order to weather this crisis, plus their food is delicious!

as of March 19, 2020

Today, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order in a state-wide effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. His order, effective Friday, March 20th at midnight – April 3rd at midnight, covers a lot of what we are already seeing in Houston. The Governor’s order is subject to renewal based on changing conditions.

 

Here is a breakdown of what was announced:

  • COVID-19 is now considered a public health disaster
  • The executive order requires:
    • All bars and restaurants in the state must move to drive-thru, delivery or pick up
      • Separately, the Governor also waived some regulations allowing establishments with a license to add alcohol to their delivery and to-go orders
    • All persons in the State of Texas must keep group sizes to 10 or less
    • All gyms and massage parlors are ordered to temporarily close
    • All schools in the State must temporality close their physical buildings, but may move to online instruction
    • People are banned from visiting nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and retirement homes
      • Exception is to provide essential services or supplies
    • Here is what it does not prohibit:
      • This is not a shelter in place
      • You can still go to grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks
      • Critical government services will still be available
      • Can still travel domestically
      • Offices and workplaces can remain open, but continue good hygiene practices
        • Employers are encouraged to institute work from home policies

The City of Houston announced that the first private, free testing site is up and running. There are four free private drive thru COVID19 testing sites run by United Memorial Medical Center. You will be screened onsite for symptoms. Only those who are symptomatic will be tested.

 

The first public testing site will open tomorrow for first responders and health care workers only. The city will scale it up as Personal Protective Equipment becomes available. The public sites will be free. Individuals will need to self-screen online and will be screened for symptoms upon arrival.

 

Finally, the Mayor held a press conference this afternoon. Here is a breakdown of what was covered:

  • City of Houston is reporting its 11th case of COVID19, resulted from community exposure
    • The numbers being reported at this time are understood to be an underestimate, it is expected to rise
    • Important for social distancing and avoiding large crowds
  • Millennials
    • Are contracting the virus and spreading to parents and grandparents
    • New data from the CDC shows that people between the age of 20-54 are requiring hospitalization

as of March 16, 2020

 

First, the Mayor held a press conference with the heads of the major grocery stores. Here is a summary:

  • Our area grocery stores are open and well stocked
  • Due to the increased activity in-store, several stores are hiring
  • The Mayor is asking that people not over purchase items because there is no current shortage of supplies
  • Our water supply is unaffected by COVID-19, so bottled water is unnecessary right now
  • Only flush toilet paper, please do not use paper towels or baby wipes

 

The Mayor and County Judge held a press conference this afternoon. Here is a summary:

  • The CDC is asking to limit crowd size to 50 people or less, 10 or less if older or vulnerable populations will be there. The goal is to slow down the spread of COVID-19, flatten the curve, and not overwhelm the health system
  • The City Council will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow at 9 am to extend the disaster declaration
    • Extend bans on all City sponsored events through the end of April
    • All City meetings will be limited to 250 people
  • Beginning tomorrow at 8 am, for 15 days:
    • Restaurants must offer only delivery, pick-up or drive-through
    • Bars and clubs must close
    • Unless you need essential supplies (medicine, food, health care), stay home
    • Fire department will be issuing a zero-occupancy load to any restaurants and bars found to be open to the public and will fine those in violation
  • County will continue to provide critical services  
  • Price-gouging: County attorneys are working to stop fraudulent practices and price gouging
    • Can report it at readyharris.org and tomorrow a hotline will be available
  • Need volunteers
  • CenterPoint will provide flexibility with gas bills
  • Municipal Utility Districts will also be flexible with payment plans 
  • Dr. Shaw – Medical director for Harris Health and Harris County
    • Trying to do everything we can to delay the number of people exposed
    • Still recommending people to practice good hygiene habits
    • Gatherings, regardless where they are, can hurt our community
  • Dr. Persse – Medical Director for City of Houston
    • These aggressive measures are to prevent deaths in our community
    • Houston will begin testing across the city by the end of the week
      • Only testing people with symptoms to avoid false negatives
      • Consult medical professionals to see if you need to get tested
      • Do not want huge crowds to overwhelm the testing facilities
  • HISD has extended school closings until April 10th. We will continue to keep you updated as we get more information. 

 

Our local restaurants are going to feel this ban in an extremely negative way. We encourage you to patronize drive-throughs, to-go ordering, and buy gift cards to support them as much as you can. A list of area Kosher restaurants can be found here.

 

 

Report on the Coronavirus

As of March 11, 2020

 

Here is a breakdown of the latest information:

  1. The World Health Organization has officially classified COVID-19 a pandemic
  2. There is one case of community-spread of COVID-19 in Montgomery County (spread of the virus without a known source)
  3. All other cases of COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area have a direct tie to travel to Italy or an Egyptian Cruise, including the two cases in the City of Houston
  4. The City of Houston and Harris County have signed an Emergency Health Declaration for the next 7 days, they will review at the end of 7 days to determine if it needs to be extended
    • What does this mean?
      • All large gatherings sponsored, co-sponsored, or permitted by the City of Houston during the month of March will be rescheduled or canceled. This includes the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Tour de Houston, and individual council events and town hall meetings
      • City of Houston will proceed forward with events in April and beyond unless something changes or advised otherwise
      • Business is still preceding as usual
      • As of now, HISD is in session until the end of the week when they will break for spring break
    • All of this is subject to change as we learn more about the virus in Houston

 

 

Dr. Ed Septimus Report on the Coronavirus

As of March 4, 2020

 

  1. For now, the average person’s risk remains low in the US, but this may change with increased testing. The highest risk is for those who live in regional “hot zones” such as Washington state or Northern California.
  2. There’s still a chance to delay more widespread transmission, but full containment may no longer be possible.
  3. Current strategies have given us time to prepare hospitals, expand testing, and develop vaccines and therapies (there is at least 1 promising antiviral in clinical trials-vaccine is at least 1 year away)
  4. Currently the U.S. does not need to ban people from moving freely in the country. Local public-health authorities (City of Houston and Harris County) should be our source for local strategies based on the epidemiology on the ground-currently Houston has zero cases but this can change rapidly.
  5. As the number of cases expands, current public-health measures for containing disease—detecting infected individuals and contact tracing—will no longer be enough
  6. Slowing down community spread will require steps aimed at “social distancing”—keeping people who are sick away from others. (stay home if you are ill in general!)
  7. The CDC continues to guide us on what measures should be considered—for example, canceling mass gatherings or closing schools and conducting classes online. But it’s up to local authorities to decide what measures to implement based on conditions on the ground.
  8. The usual flu-season advice still applies: Wash your hands frequently, avoid handshakes, cover your cough with your sleeve, and try not to touch your face. Most important, stay home when you or someone in your household is sick. For home isolation and quarantine to work, employers need to be as understanding and be flexible. If available holding videoconferences instead of meetings and let employees work from home can limit disruption if social distancing is recommended by local health authorities. Some may consider alternative schedules to reduce contact with others. Disinfect the environment frequently.
  9. In the coming weeks I expect more Americans will become infected and unfortunately some may die. A reminder almost 20,000 Americans have already died of flu this year in the US. The COVID-19 virus appears to be a little contagious than seasonal flu and has a case fatality rate between 1-2%. (almost all elderly and/or with underlying medical problems). This is far lower than SARS, MERS, or Ebola. Flu case fatality rate is ~.1-.5% The vast majority of COVID infected patients have mild disease and recover.
  10. Mitigation efforts can be disruptive. But these steps are the best strategy until we can produce an effective treatment(s) and/or a vaccine or activity declines in our community.

 

Sat, March 28 2020 3 Nisan 5780