Rainier Redoubt: Prepare For At Least Six More Months of Social Distancing

As the virus spread has appeared to slow in Washington state, it’s easy to begin thinking that things may return to normal soon. Here’s Rainier Redoubt talking about why that may not be so, Prepare For At Least Six More Months of Social Distancing and Stay-At-Home Orders.

On March 24, 2020 we asked the question COVID-19, When Will It End? In this blog post we suggested that it pays to start planning for strong social distancing for at least the next six months.

On April 2, 2020 Washington State Governor Jay Inslee extended end date of the state’s “stay-at-home” order from April 6th to May 4th.

On April 6, 2020 the Govenor and the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, announced that both public and private schools in Washington would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. The school year in Washington normally ends in mid-June, so this adds an additional six weeks of school closuers beyond the current end date for the state’s stay-at-home order.

As of April 6, 2020 there were 1,346,299 confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide, with at least 368,000 of those cases being in the United States. State and Federal governments must weigh the risks of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and perhaps a million deaths, against a complete collapse of the economy with millions of people out of work and small businesses never being able to recover from the financial loss.

The government must decide at what point it is medically safe to allow businesses to reopen and to lift restrictions on social distancing. Even if the government removes these restrictions prior to October 2020, we still strongly recommend caution in your social interactions through at least the end of the year.

COVID-19 is not going to just suddenly disappear. Until an effective vaccine and treatment are developed and distributed there will be a significant health risk from the virus.

In the absence of a vaccine, cure, or massive testing and quarantine, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders will need to last for months. However, the US faces a unique challenge because only half the states have adopted aggressive intervention, and done so at varying times. Even if these states achieve control or containment, they may be vulnerable to contagion from other states that were late to do so. (SSRN)
According to an article in Business Insider, Ultimately, experts say that social-distancing measures will be necessary until we have a vaccine, and that’s 12 to 18 months. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re all in our homes for 18 months, it means maybe we’re avoiding public gatherings for that amount of time or limiting the amount of travel internationally, but it’s not necessarily as restrictive as what we’re seeing now.

Click here to read the entire article at Rainier Redoubt.

See also The Organic Prepper – We Won’t Be Getting “Back to Normal.” Not Soon. Not Ever.

BFHD: Social Distancing for High Risk Populations

The Benton Franklin Health District has posted this message on Social Distancing for High Risk Populations in light of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state.

Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) is working tirelessly to limit the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community. At this time, we have no presumed or confirmed cases. We know that people are worried about this new illness. Due to the novelty of the disease, information on which to make recommendations is changing rapidly.

Prevention strategies can make a large impact in slowing the increase in cases in the short run and ultimately reducing the total number of cases.

Our recommendations are based on our best understanding of this new disease and with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Washington State Department of Health, and our colleagues at other local health agencies.

We know that COVID-19 spreads among close contacts, and that reducing close contact with others can help reduce the spread of this disease. Social Distancing is a prevention strategy used for many other illnesses.

For social distancing to be most effective, it must be combined with other illness prevention steps.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially after having physical contact with others, being in public places or health care facilities, when leaving work or school and upon returning home.
  • Stay home when you are sick. It is crucial that those who are ill with fever or symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath stay home and away from others.
  • Stay away from other sick people.
  • If someone else at work is sick with a cough or cold, make this known to someone in charge so that person can be asked to leave.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw it away, and then wash your hands.
  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces with a disinfectant.

Gatherings: BFHD is recommending additional social distancing for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If your event has an intended audience of those that would be considered higher risk, we recommend cancellation of those events.

Those at higher risk include people who:

  • are over 60 years of age
  • have an underlying medical condition, like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes
  • have weakened immune systems
  • are pregnant

If you have questions about whether you or your child is at higher risk from COVID-19, ask your health care provider.

For events where the intended audience is not higher risk, BFHD is advising organizations to follow DOH’s Recommendations for Events and Public Gatherings. Currently, our Health Officer has determined our community is at moderate risk – Threshold 2.

Employers: BFHD is encouraging workplaces and businesses to provide options for their higher risk employees to work from home if possible. If they cannot work from home, employees at higher should minimize their interaction with large groups of people.

Faith Community: BFHD is recommending that our faith community partners practice social distancing during services. Refrain from hugs, handshakes, and any common vessel usage.

What’s Next: BFHD will make decisions about future measures based on active surveillance of all respiratory illness in our community. Surveillance includes monitoring community level data such as emergency department volumes, school absentee rates, respiratory illness rates in long-term care facilities, and data from Washington State’s syndromic surveillance portal.