Transcript for Experts weigh in on US response to COVID-19 crisis: Part 2
Americans are now wondering tonight when the new normal of lockdowns and self-isolation will become things of the past. Earlier tonight I spoke with ABC news contributors Dr. Todd elleren at south shore health in Massachusetts and Tom Bossert, former homeland security adviser to president trump. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us tonight. Doctor, let me start with you, sir. We had at least 185 deaths in the U.S. Today, the highest number of deaths so far. What does that tell you? It tells us that the epidemic is worsening, and it's not necessarily equal across the country. The other states shouldn't feel like we have a lot of time, we have to prepare in case we're the next hot zone. Things are difficult in many places. The president is concerned about the economy, rightfully so, and wants the country up and running by Easter. From your perspective, is this a wise decision? I was very encouraged to see the president clarify that message today from the podium. We can't have one standard for removing the isolation measures from any one community, and we can't have one date to remove we're going to have to make those decisions based on where we see hotter and cooler spots, and we're going to have to make those decisions based on where we've got the resources to execute the responsible step-down plan. And doctor, to that point, a lot of medical experts disagree with the president. What do you think of his deadline, and is there a way to do it safely? Well, I want to echo what Tom just said. We want to be driven by data and not dates. If April 12th comes around and we're seeing mortality go down and, you know, that the epidemic looks like it's plateauing more, it may be possible to open up certain parts of the country. But I don't think it can be an all or none type of decision. At the same time, we have to increase testing. That's vital so we can identify these patients early. Isolate them, trace their contacts and, in that way, we'll decrease human to human spread. If you would give us context on what's going on in south Korea. They've had real success in dealing with the virus there. They've been disinfecting shoes for example, forcing people to sanitize their hands and taking multiple temperature checks. Should the United States be heading in that same direction? They were excellent in getting out front with testing. They got their commercial labs to be able to mass-produce testing. And they tested patients early. They were able to identify, isolate, contact, trace, quarantine those close contacts. But I do want to add one point. There was a little bit of good fortune involved in that country as well. There was an epidemic that was forming in a certain population. It was in this Christian sect that was a younger population, also had a lot of females. So younger females were the predominant population that was getting infected. And overall, as you know, younger patients tend to do better, and overall females tend to do better than males. It was a combination of them being very aggressive and giving good care, mass communication but also some good fortune. Gentlemen, a final question to you both. I mine, you both have painted a grim picture about where we are now and what's to come. What's your best recommendations as to what people can do at home? We can't stress it enough, even though it sounds overstated that sticking to this plan is important. The idea of staying to the course that we've set for ourselves, without getting seven or ten days into it and losing our patience or our nerve is exceedingly important. I don't want us to have spent all of this cost for our economy and on our lives only to give up and not receive the public health benefit that we get for all of this sacrifice. And then we can use the time that we have between now and the time that god forbid it becomes worse in other communities to prepare. And that doesn't mean just hospital preparations. How do I take care of my family, my parents, my children. Anything that I can do to make me ready for an outbreak in my town or city that may not be yet upon me, and lastly, we can continue to provide support to one another and be vigilant against the disinformation we are hearing and remain optimistic. Good hand hygiene. The social distancing, especially at a time like now when things are on the rise, really important. We want to take that seriously. Remember, this is not a disease of just the elderly. Covid-19 has sent a lot of younger people, age 20 to 50 into the hospital, so we want to make sure that we're not just taking this for granted. Dr. Todd elleren and Tom Bossert, thank you both so much. Thank you. Thank you, Byron.
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