About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_1

Unlike the stock market keeps plummeting, the concerns about Coronavirus seem nowhere close to mitigation. To help figure out the situation, USA TODAY had an interview with former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, about some of the questions we all want to know the most. Here are 20 questions and answers edited for length and clarity.

1. Where Are We, And Where Are We Headed?

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It is coming to a changing point where a possible rapid acceleration in the virus will happen in the United States. The next two weeks will be tough, and it will play out over the next two months. There should be a change in the country's perception, mood, and approach over the next two weeks. 

2. Why Is It The Situation?

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As the broad diagnostic screening is getting in place, America is catching up with the infection rate. It probably means there are multiple large outbreaks in major metropolitan areas without being aware of, including Seattle, Santa Clara, and New York. It's still spreading but hasn't become quite apparent.

3. What Can Mitigation Accomplish?

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_4

Implementing mitigation steps means slowing the rate of getting the virus. It will result in expanding the epidemic without peaking as high. Slowing down the rate of infection also helps manage it with the health care system, which should be a primary concern right now. 

4. What Does Aggressive Mitigation Look Like?

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Businesses with a large number of people congregating inside like cinemas should be shut down to avoid possible rapid spread. It also requires firms to have nonessential people telework and transportation to slow down.

5. How About Locking Down Cities?

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Unlike what China did and Italy is doing, it may not be the appropriate approach here. When the economic activities in an outbreak area get slow down, there will be fewer people going in and out, which should achieve the same goal as locking down.

6. Could Warm Weather End The Coronavirus Outbreak?

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It is possible that coronaviruses can't circulate in the summer due to the viral particles' incapability of surviving such an environment. Although July and August should be a backstop, it is not a certainty that the weather impact will be big enough to stop the spreading completely. It's still a novel virus, and the weather assumptions can't be confirmed yet. 

7. What Steps Are Making A Difference?

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_8

The fact that it is getting warmer, transportation is slowing down, and consumers are taking precautions will all have an impact on slowing the outbreak. Even though it is not going to prevent people from having an epidemic, it will help to prevent it from getting a lot more serious. It can help more when it's coupled with policy steps.

8. Apart From Shutting Down Cities, What Else Can We Do?

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_9

Everything matters, including temperature checks and plastic partitions in cabs. It's phenomenal and helpful to keep the social distance. Businesses should do these little things for both good economic sense and public health sense. Otherwise, businesses like shared riding will drop off since people don't want to get in cars when they don't know who was in it before. 

9. How Long Will This Situation Last?

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March and April will be very difficult. Hopefully, the epidemic curve will come down at the end of April after the right things are done. Things should be different in summer, which means the situation will be better but not fully end.

10. Should We Shut Down Schools?

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There might be preemptive school closures across districts near Seattle due to a large outbreak. However, reactive school closures should be reconsidered carefully because the action has its own impact on social lives and public health. 

11. What About Restraining Large Gatherings?

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_12

In order to slow down the spread, it is very necessary to limit large gatherings at this point. 

12. Should We Shut Down The Cruise Industry?

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Whether or not the government has the power to control the industry, people should stop taking cruises right now. The foreign-flagged cruise ships will need permission to dock and disembark here. 

13. Why Are Cruise Ships So Problematic?

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Coronavirus is a sticky one, and it will widely propagate once it gets inside a closed space. Taking a cruise means undergoing an awful risk to pack a lot of people in such circumstances.  

14. Who Is At The Greatest Risk?

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According to the statistics, the case fatality rates increase dramatically above 60. However, the illness doesn't really care how old you are. It's scary as long as it has possibilities to take your life. 

15. What About Kids?

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_16

Fortunately, young children seem to be the only group that gets spared. It doesn't mean they are not vectors, but somehow they don't seem to become symptomatic.

16. How To Protect Nursing Home Patients?

About Coronavirus: Q And A With Former FDA Chief_17

There are things you can do to reduce risk in such circumstances. It's essential to be vigilant with staff and visitors, such as limit visitors, check their temperatures and require staff to wear masks.

17. What Is The Appropriate Messaging?

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People have legitimate concerns and fears about the situation, which makes it important to acknowledge those fears, explain the risks, what approaches have been taken to mitigate it, and what the other side is like. This will be a historical moment when people look back.

18. Are More Tests Getting Out There?

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In short, any patient whom the doctor thinks should be tested should be getting tested, which is not happening now. Over the next two weeks, the testing capacity will ramp quickly. Now, 400 of the 3,000 are found positive in the US. 

19. What Does That Situation Mean?

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It means there are a lot of "warehoused patients," those who we know they're positive but still waiting to be tested. There may be the capacity to test 10,000 samples a day across the country, which means 5,000 people a day with 2 samples each patient. It also challenges the uneven distribution since areas like New York need much more. 

20. Is This A Pandemic?

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Containment will not beat the virus, which will make it a global pandemic. It has already become a pandemic now, even though the WHO doesn't want to label it yet due to certain reasons.