The Current State of the Country: Reopening the Economy, and Risks of a Second Surge

It’s been nearly 2 months since the United States has ground to a slow chug. By this time, many of us have adapted to a “new normal”, preparing for the worst-case scenario by stocking up on essentials and trying to be productive. For some, the worst has already arrived: over 30 million people have lost their jobs, and many who could continue working still struggle financially. Amidst the nation’s eagerness to resume business as usual, there persists a concern among the healthcare community – a second surge of COVID-19.

The State of Our Country

A few weeks ago, President Trump indicated that states can reopen May 1, leaving it to state and city officials  to sort out the details; shortly after, he reversed his stance, leaving the country confused as to just how soon we’d be reopening the economy. It is a win-lose situation either way; opening the economy has been projected to cost over 200 thousand lives, yet staying shut prolongs economic stagnation that’s cost so many jobs and businesses already. In the coming weeks, COVID incidence is likely to vary among the 50 states, with states planning to reopen like Georgia predicted to see more of a surge than ones staying closed. 

Reopening the US economy in our current state is a topic of contention. On one hand, local, state, and federal leaders are eager to mitigate further economic recession; on the other, voices from the medical field decry a premature reopening of the economy, citing the risk to the health of the general public that is feared to come with lifting social distancing restrictions.  In a compromise, leaders have drafted a phased reopening to minimize the health risks while optimizing the economy in its current state. Even so, there is immeasurable risk in opening the floodgates too early; another wave of COVID-19 is certain if we prioritize temporary respite from this economic slump versus more complete control over the current outbreaks, or the adoption and enforcement of measures to prevent this foreseen second surge. 

 

The Trouble with Re-Opening

COVID-19 poses a unique risk to general public’s safety that hasn’t been encountered since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. The long incubation period of Coronavirus paired with a high infection rate means that the most current data on incidence is the product of actions and responses made in weeks prior. Although there is an overall downtrend, in some regions incidence rates remain high; and elsewhere, cases are still on the rise: some experts believe we are only a few wrong decisions away from incurring another surge. Simply “reopening” America without the proper precautions in place could erase our progress and “unflatten” the curve our country has wrestled with over the last few months. 

Furthermore, there is growing unrest throughout the country; explosive gatherings in Huntington Beach, CA and throughout Michigan reflect a frustration with the prolongation of safer-at-home and commercial lockdown measures. Crowds of picketters protesting job security and rent, among other things, are becoming more commonplace across the country, each gathering on its own a potential nidus for coronavirus spread.

While some parts of the country are loosening lockdown measures, others are being forced out by natural disasters. A few weeks ago, tornadoes tore through the American Midwest, killing more than four dozen people and destroying the homes of hundreds more. As we near summer – the season for hurricanes in the Gulf, fires on the West Coast, and tornadoes in the Midwest – it is certain that some of these victims of natural disasters will lose their ability to self-isolate. Between the withdrawal of lockdown measures in some states, protests of stay-at-home mandates in others, loss of safe isolation environments due to unforeseeable natural occurrences, and the lack of an assured treatment or vaccine for the virus, some would say a second surge is imminent.

Coronavirus is Here to Stay

COVID-19 is not likely to last  only a couple of months. Mike Osterholm, the director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), says that the novel Coronavirus pandemic will likely persist between “18 months to two years—until 60% to 70% of the population has been infected.” CDC Director Robert Redfield has predicted a second wave of cases, which has the possibility to be much worse if it occurs during the flu season

At this time, the only way we can improve the safety of yourself and others is to follow the CDC’s guidelines for Coronavirus: wash your hands, wear a mask in public, avoid close contact with others, and self-isolate when developing symptoms.

 

Assuming that Coronavirus is here to stay, it becomes essential to prepare for the worst, even if we’re hoping for the best. Hospitals and healthcare workers are fighting to curb COVID spread, and we at DonatePPE.org are doing our part in the fight against Coronavirus by raising money and sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) where these supplies are in dire shortage. 

Looking for ways that you can help us in our mission to support the frontline? 

 

– Stay informed: we’ll continue to share what is known about the pandemic, and what easy measures you can take to keep yourself safe at DonatePPE.org/blog

 

– Follow us: from stories from the frontline and collaborations with other organizations, to photos of PPE purchases and deliveries reaching frontline healthcare heroes, we share photos every day to our Instagram @DonatePPE about our ongoing projects.

 

– Spread awareness: by joining in on interactive projects like drawing and coloring along with Guy’s Doodles, to sharing the images from our healthcare hero shoutouts, you help share the mission of DonatePPE.org and those fighting to keep the world safe from COVID. 

 

– Donate: if you have protective equipment or sanitation supplies you want to send to the frontlines, let us know at info@donateppe.org and we’ll help get your supplies to a healthcare worker, nursing home, or food bank in need. And funds can be donated to GoFundMe.com/DonatePPE: all donations go to sourcing, vetting and shipping PPE to healthcare workers all over the country.

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For all inquiries (including media inquiries), please email us at info@donateppe.org