The new Coronavirus has spread rapidly across the globe.  In less than two months, it has reached over 135 countries and infected more than 160,000 individuals.  Diseases do not stop at state or international borders.  It has come to Ohio and it is a public health emergency.  We dare not underestimate it.

Medical experts are telling us the COVID-19 virus is twice as contagious as the flu.  There is no cure or vaccine at this time, so we are limited to defensive strategies.  The World Health Organization is advising us to start doing five things to stop the spread of Coronavirus:

  1. Hands – Wash them often

  2. Elbow – Cough into it

  3. Face – Don’t touch it

  4. Feet – Stay more than 3 feet away from others

  5. Feel Sick? – Stay home

But beyond those personal habits, we are all being advised to engage in a pattern of social or physical distancing.

It is the social distancing strategy that has caused the closing of schools and universities, the suspension of college and pro sports, the restrictions on restaurant operations, the mandates to work from home and limitations on the size of groups.  Some might believe that state government has gone too far, but the last thing you want to be in this crisis - is too late.

The uncomfortable truth is that the virus is already among us and since there is not a cure, we need to slow its spread as much as possible.  If we can slow the spread, it will protect our healthcare system.  Meaning, while we have some of the best medical facilities in the world, it is still a limited number of doctors, nurses and hospital beds.  If we can slow the advancement of the disease, hopefully, it will not overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure.

The goal of social distancing is to turn the growth of COVID-19 to a slope instead of a spike therefore keep the outbreak within our health care capacity. 

You can read more about Ohio’s defensive / slope strategy in this overview article posted on Vox. =>

There are lessons from history and even from this outbreak about protecting ourselves through social distancing.

First the lesson of history.  In 1918-19 the world was being attacked by the Spanish Flu.  It infected approximately 500 million people and 50 million died across the globe.  It came to Philadelphia on September 19, 1918 through soldiers returning from Europe following World War 1.  Within a few days 600 sailors had contracted the disease.  On September 28, 1918, Philadelphia hosted a parade that attracted over 200,000 onlookers.  Six weeks later, there were 47,000 cases in Philly and 12,000 had died.  Six months later the city had 500,000 cases.

 Here is a CNN article about the Philly outbreak:

Unfortunately, the lesson of Philly has already happened in the United States with the COVID 19 outbreak.

I give you the BioTech meeting in Boston in late February.  As of March 11, 2020, there were ninety-five (95) cases in Massachusetts. Seventy seven (77) of those can be traced back to a two-day meeting of a biotech company called Biogen.

The two-day conference brought together 175 company leaders in a Boston hotel and as a result, 77 of them have contracted the virus.  You can read a Time Magazine article about the Boston outbreak here.  => 

Prevention can mitigate risks and slow the spread and save lives.  That is the logic behind the social restrictions on crowd size and the advice to (if possible) just stay home.   The way to stop this virus from spreading is to stop spreading it.  It is the choices that are made by all of us that will determine the fate of others and possibly, ourselves.  A stronger, sooner and larger response will save lives. 

What Am I Going To Do?

During the Ohio COVID-19 outbreak, it is my pledge to you, the residents of House District 8 and all of Ohio that I will, at all times, communicate essential information without politicizing the message.  That does not mean that I will not be critical when I think it is called for.  But I want you to know, my goal will be sharing helpful information and saving lives not banking votes or scoring political victories.  I will be more concerned with actions rather than optics.

I will advocate for solutions that are rooted in science and driven by data.  We should empower the experts.  But unfortunately. Much of the data we need is only just now becoming available as this is a brand new threat.  Those will be the most difficult decisions.  But doing nothing will not provide an outcome that benefits anyone.

As someone who has done doctoral studies (but not the medical kind) in economic development, I will focus my public policy concerns on the economic impacts for Ohioans resulting from this outbreak and the strategies to minimize the loss of life.   We need an “All of Ohio” approach.  If we are all in this together than this disease should not create economic winners and losers.  Our public health will suffer if we do not unite in an effort to defeat it.  That means no one should be sick at work because their family depends more on their income rather than their life.  The most vulnerable need to be supported the most in this fight because it is about ourselves, our community, our neighbors, our state and our world.

If you have any questions or for more information you can call 1-833-427-5634 or check the website  Check the website first, on March 15, the Governor reported that it the call center was getting 450 calls an hour.  The World Health Organization also has this helpful resource on its website. =>

Be smart Ohio and we will be well.

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