This fourteen-day period has been dubbed the most critical point of this pandemic, where if the Americans efficiently limit the spread of the coronavirus, an anticipated crash of the healthcare system can be avoided. The commonly heard “flattening of the curve” refers to the wave of cases, where the high wave is a surge in cases. Flattening this curve is the result of the community doing their best to lower the peak, thereby preventing an onslaught of new patients. This crucial step can provide healthcare officials the much-needed reprieve in order to take care of those suffering from COVID-19, without burning through their already limited resources. With COVID-19 reaching all 50 states, cases are soaring as people do not adhere to the concept of social distancing or other safe practices.
The most effective way to prevent the spread is by practicing social distancing, which has been defined as simply keeping 6 feet way from people and by limiting your interaction with people outside of your home. With nearly a third of the globe’s population under movement restrictions, governments are somewhat in
Figure 1 Cases in the United States as of March 25, 2020
agreement that this approach can halt the spread, as predicted by experts. This practice is likely going to need to be in place until the pandemic subsides, but for now, it is important to do it for at least 14 days, ensuring those who have coronavirus or have been exposed to coronavirus, have time to fight the disease and not pass it along.
In response to the current crisis, US lawmakers agreed on a $2 trillion stimulus package early morning on March 25th to kickstart the struggling economy. While a final vote is expected later in the day, the creation and agreement of the bill is a momentous feat. It is expected that the bill will include $250 billion for direct payments to Americans and their families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits, and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies. An additional $27 billion is to go to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to develop COVID-19 vaccines and countermeasures. Finally, the Centers for Disease Control will get an additional $4.3 billion through the fiscal year 2024 to combat the virus.
Again, below are best practices to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading the coronavirus:
- Wash you hand thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If you cannot wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Cough into your elbow or a tissue, immediately throw the tissue away and wash your hands
- Avoid touching your face
- Keep a safe distance from others, 6 feet is recommended
- Stay home if you can and avoid going out unless it is necessary
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
Recent US policies:
- 30-day travel ban to and from EU- except the United Kingdom for non-Americans.
- Closures of restaurants and eateries. Majority are only permitted to provide takeout and delivery, some states, like Virginia, are limiting restaurants to only serving 10 guests at a time.
- State-wide lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have been put in place across the country.
- Both a national stimulus and a relief package are being developed in congress, with an estimated ~$1000 going to adults and $500 per dependent to all Americans, expected to reach Americans by April 6th.
- State Department officials say that terrorism charges may apply to individuals who intentionally spread COVID-19.
The severity of this pandemic is not being felt by all, with reports of college students still traveling for spring break, or people taking advantage of the rock-bottom prices of international flights. Nevertheless, this is a key time in this pandemic, and it could determine the success of healthcare workers and the duration of life under quarantines.
Critics of the proposed stimulus plan argue that it does not do enough for Americans and caters to businesses and corporations. With details still undisclosed, it cannot be effectively commented on. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a press conference, said the stimulus bill would fall very short of the needed assistance for New York. However, there is a provision within the bill that prevents Donald Trump, his family, and other top officials from getting loans or investments from the package. Supporters have praised the bill’s proposal of funding the recently defunded science led by the CDC and other public health services.
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