May 15, 2020

Credit: AlenaPaulus / Getty Images

In the midst of a pandemic, governors around the country have been reopening local economies and causing concern for many health experts, including members of the White House coronavirus task force who testified before a Senate committee this week. 

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has long warned about the risk of pandemics. He calls the effort to reopen a “hodgepodge,” though he believes remaining locked down while we wait for a vaccine is not an option. First and foremost, he laments a lack of national leadership, frank talk about the tradeoffs ahead, and a clear direction in the fight against COVID-19.

Three Takeaways:

  • We are only at the beginning of this health crisis. “The second inning of a nine inning situation,” according to Osterholm. He says a small percentage of the U.S. population is infected, and the virus will not slow down until about 60-70% of the public is infected (creating herd immunity) or an effective vaccine is developed. 
  • Osterholm and his colleagues are not certain what course COVID-19 will take in the future. In a recent report, they presented three potential scenarios for the pandemic: a series of smaller waves of ongoing infections, a devastating resurgence of infections with a massive wave in the fall or winter (much like the 1918 influenza pandemic) or a “slow burn of ongoing transmission.”
  • To fight the coronavirus pandemic, Osterholm believes what is needed is the kind of strong leadership displayed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during World War II. He says there has to be an honest discussion about the very difficult challenges ahead and a willingness to develop plans which may be unpopular.

More Reading:

coronavirus, Sci and Tech, Business, reopening, COVID-19, Michael Osterholm

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