US Gov’t preparing for coronavirus pandemic that could last up to 18 months

US Gov't preparing for coronavirus pandemic that could last up to 18 months
JERICHO, NEW YORK - MARCH 18: A health care worker prepares to tend to patients at the drive-in center at ProHealth Care on March 18, 2020 in Jericho, New York. The facility offers COVID-19 testing as more than 200,000 people in at least 144 countries have been infected, with deaths in the U.S. surpassing 100. The World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic on March 11. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Nearly two months since the first US coronavirus case, the federal government is now preparing for a pandemic that could last up to 18 months or longer and “include multiple waves of illness,” a report obtained by CNN shows.

Hospitals have already sounded the alarm on quickly vanishing supplies as the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing in the US– in just 24 hours, cases soared by more than 40%.

The US government announced this week it would help make up for potential medical supply shortages and deploy two hospital ships to help increase medical capacity.

Nearly 9,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus. At least 149 have died.

“I view it as, in a sense, of wartime president,” President Donald Trump said in a news conference Wednesday. “I mean, that’s what we’re fighting. It’s a very tough situation here.”

To slow the spread of the virus, governors across the country sprang into action this week, implementing drastic measures such as shutting down schools, transitioning bars and restaurants to only take-out services and putting a ban on mass gatherings.

Some city leaders in California — including San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed who was the first to enact such a policy — have instructed their residents to “shelter-in-place” and leave their home only if absolutely necessary.

About 10 million residents are under such an order. Solano County, the latest to join other Bay Area counties in implementing the order, told residents to stay put until April 7.

“We are taking this health crisis seriously and trying to protect our community while still ensuring that the essential parts of our county can function and attempting to lessen the substantial burden placed on workers and businesses,” Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County Public Health Officer said in a statement.

But in many communities across the US, that burden has proved massive, with some hospitals saying they are down to days’ worth of equipment.

Still a lot unknown about virus

Despite the predictions on what the course of the next months may look like for Americans, the healthcare system and communities across the world, a top US health official says there’s still a lot unknown.

“It’s evolving,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, with the National Institutes of Health told CNN Wednesday night. “It’s evolving, every day we learn more and more.”

In recent days, officials have begun to emphasize the role that younger populations may play in how much and how fast the virus spreads — urging young people to heed warnings and take them seriously.

“Even as important is that you have a responsibility, a society responsibility, to protect the vulnerable,” Fauci said.

“And you do that, interestingly, by not letting yourself get infected, because you need to make sure that you don’t inadvertently pass on the infection to someone who would not fare as well as you.”

Recent studies and an outbreak in Massachusetts have pointed to the fact that infected but asymptomatic residents may be driving the spread of the virus more than health officials realized.

“It may have been that the millennial generation, our largest generation, our future generation, that will carry us through for the next multiple decades — there may be a disproportional number of infections among that group,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator said Wednesday.

“So again, I’m going to call on that generation … not only calling on you to heed what’s in the guidance, but to really ensure that each and every one of you are protecting each other,” she said.

“We cannot have these large gatherings that continue to occur throughout the country for people who are off work to then be socializing in large groups and spreading the virus.

“You have the potential then to spread it to someone who does have a condition that none of us knew about and cause them to have a disastrous outcome.”

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