April 17, 2020
To: All Domestic Employees
From: Pandemic Working GroupRe: COVID-19: FEMA Mapping ~ Federal Reopening Advisory ~ CA Update ~ Italia
As part of its daily wrap-up, FEMA published the map to the right setting forth cumulative COVID cases by state (darker blue means more cases) and region as of yesterday evening. Of interest are the regional pandemic curves below the map which (while not perfectly in focus) indicate a downward trend in virtually every region. FEMA also reports that, with respect to New York City, which has been hard hit by the pandemic, antibody testing is set to start imminently. Provided the FDA approves the finger-prick test method, that city is targeting the testing of 100K persons per day. In its initial phases, these tests will be given on a priority basis to essential healthcare workers. To date in the U.S. 3.68 million persons have been tested.
White House Issues Reopening Guidelines
Last night, Dr. Deborah Brix, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the Trump Administration, announced advisory guidelines for reopening the states or regions entitled, “Opening Up America Again.” In a nutshell, each state must meet three “gating criteria” before they can proceed to a phased opening. Those gating criteria are:
i) downward trajectory of influenza-like symptoms and COVID-like cases reported over a 14-day period;
ii) downward trajectory of documented cases and positive tests as a percentage of total tests over a 14-day period; and
iii) robust testing (including antibody testing) for all at-risk healthcare workers and the ability to treat all patients without crisis care.
Under the guidelines, it is up to each state to set up screening and testing sites for both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons and to trace persons in contact with COVID patients. States that can meet these criteria go to Phase I, where vulnerable individuals (elderly or having underlying conditions) continue to shelter in place, social distancing continues, socializing in public is limited to 10 persons or less and non-essential travel is minimized. States that meet the gating criteria for another 14 days then shift to Phase II, where socializing in public expands to 50 people or less and non-essential travel resumes. Finally, states that satisfy gating criteria for another 14 days go to Phase III, where vulnerable people resume public interactions, large venues open (with limited distancing).
We will provide more color on these guidelines and what they might mean to businesses such as ours. Also, we expect that the issuance of these guidelines will place at the forefront the states’ abilities to develop and deploy testing and tracing on a large scale. In a late-breaking story, this evening President Trump announced that the federal government is giving $19 billion in aid to farmers and ranchers, $3 billion of which will be for purchases of food to go to the needy.
Yesterday, California experienced a 10% rise in COVID-related deaths for the second consecutive day; that toll rose 25% in a 48-hour period. On the other hand, the number of new cases per day dropped to 3.7%, which is the lowest rate since the start of the pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom stated that the state will need to see downtrends in deaths, hospitalizations and ICU patients before it begins to reopen. He added that states must increase testing “exponentially.” According to the New York Times, in light of the shortage of test kits, hospitals in some areas of the US have declined to test or admit people whose oxygen saturation is above 90 percent (normal is considered to be above 94). As one critical care physician from Pittsburgh put it, “People with mild symptoms, I just send them home.” Interestingly, Santa Clarita County has completed antibody tests of 3,200 random participants and found an infection rate (i.e., the presence of the virus notwithstanding symptoms) of 4.2% of the sample. Statewide, Governor Newsom is targeting to test 25,000 people per day by the end of the month.
Courtesy of Getty Images, the photo to the left comes from a balcony on an Italian rooftop. Many in Italy have been housebound for several weeks. Despite these restrictions and the heavy toll experienced by their country, this mother and daughter tell us, “Everything will be alright.” So, we leave you with that thought and the image of a handpainted rainbow.
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COVID-19 Avisory: FEMA Mapping ~ Federal Reopening Advisory ~ CA Update ~ Italia