How Do State, Local Health Departments Already Stretched To Capacity Accommodate A Pandemic?
The fragile state of the country's public health defenses became clear this week as local and state officials brace for the coronavirus onslaught. “When it's functioning properly, you're not really sure what public health is doing. But then when there's a crisis, you realize that it’s so important,” said Vit Kraushaar, the Southern Nevada Health District’s medical investigator. News focuses on how states are being impacted by the outbreak.
Coronavirus Threat Gives Strapped State Health Agencies A New Crisis
The fumbled response to the first coronavirus case potentially contracted within a U.S. community, in California, shows how health professionals on the front lines can be quickly overmatched by the stealthy disease. And the prospect of more widespread outbreaks could put major stress on state and local health departments that are underfunded and already grappling with a bad flu season, vaping-related illnesses and the ravages of the opioid epidemic. (Roubein, Ehley and Goldberg, 2/27)
The Associated Press:
States Ramp Up Virus Preparations, Try To Reassure Public
As worries about the new coronavirus grow in the U.S., state officials are ramping up efforts to prepare for a possible outbreak while simultaneously trying to assure the public that they are well-positioned to handle it. Governors and legislators in several states have proposed pumping millions of dollars into programs to combat the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness. State health officials are checking on stockpiles of supplies such as face masks and respirators and arranging potential isolation sites for sick patients. (Lieb, 2/27)
The Associated Press:
US Schools Start Planning For Possible Spread Of Coronavirus
Schools across the United States are canceling trips abroad, preparing online lessons and even rethinking “perfect attendance” awards as they brace for the possibility that the new coronavirus could begin spreading in their communities. Districts have been rushing to update emergency plans this week after federal officials warned that the virus, which started in China, is almost certain to begin spreading in the U.S. Many are preparing for possible school closures that could stretch weeks or longer, even as they work to tamp down panic among students, parents and teachers. (Binkley, 2/28)
The New York Times:
Coronavirus Is Coming. Should New Yorkers Panic Or Shrug?
This past week saw New Yorkers fully absorbing, with varying degrees of fright or indifference, that the coronavirus was destined to arrive in the nation’s biggest city, with eight million potential victims. Would the past serve as any guide to how it might be handled? Last spring, health officials from New York and New Jersey conducted an exercise in disease preparedness that involved 70 people and a pretend Ebola patient who was transported 41 miles to Bellevue Hospital on the east side of Manhattan. (Bellafante, 2/28)
Georgia Health News:
State Challenges In Tackling COVID-19 Include Testing, Funding
Georgia faces a couple of immediate challenges in its preparation for a potential coronavirus outbreak here. One is true for many states: The process for testing patients for the disease is, at best, very slow. The Georgia Public Health Lab recently received a diagnostic test kit from the CDC for COVID-19 (the name for the new coronavirus), but like those sent to other states, its components were flawed. (Miller, 2/27)
North Carolina Health News:
Is NC Ready For Coronavirus?
Seventeen years ago, North Carolina officials had a SARS case on their hands. What they learned then changed the way they approach infectious diseases. (Hoban, 2/28)
The Baltimore Sun:
Maryland Tests Two New Patients For Possible Cases Of Coronavirus; Gov. Hogan Says He’ll Request $10M For Preparedness
Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that two more Marylanders are being tested for the coronavirus that has sickened more than 80,000 people globally.Officials expect results in the next two or three days from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where the samples were sent. The state lab does not yet have the ability to test more quickly here, but officials say they might gain kits and approvals as early as next week. (Cohn, 2/27)
The Baltimore Sun:
Maryland Study Abroad Students In South Korea Told To Return Because Of COVID-19 Spread.
The University of Maryland has suspended its foreign study abroad programs in South Korea and told students to return home, following recent changes in the CDC guidance on COVID-19. The spring program was set to begin for eight students on March 15. Six students are in South Korea and two are still in the U.S. Study abroad programs in China had already been cancelled. (Bowie and Oxenden, 2/27)
'Fear Versus Dreams': Coronavirus Spread Sparks Fears For American Travelers
Summer Mutz's dream of visiting Europe was finally arriving this weekend — a trip to Rome, Vienna and Paris with a friend. But with the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe and the number of cases in Italy surging, what once seemed like a wonderful milestone was now a source of fear and anxiety. "I literally could not stop thinking about it all night," said Mutz, 23, of New Jersey. (Silva and Arkin, 2/27)
Coronavirus In Mass.: Public Health Experts Say Don't Panic But Do Prepare
Health officials said this week that a novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States is a question of "not if but when," and we should all prepare. But how? Boston-area experts on public health preparedness answered in a chorus that can be summed up as: Don't panic, but do practice the usual methods to avoid illness and do get ready for possible disruption of daily life. (Goldberg, 2/27)