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Understanding COVID-19: Episode 10 – Controlling the Spread

By Bob Arnot, M.D., sponsored by DeVry University

April 2, 2020
3 min read

Dr. Arnot observes different measures taken around the world and explains what methods triumphed and what measures did not help control the spread of the virus. The doctor gave suggestions of how far apart we should be staying and different ways we can greet each other, while still being socially distant with one another. With the information we have today, Dr. Arnot provides a graph of possible outcomes to expect with the given measures our country is taking on social distancing.

Video Transcription

As you read in the papers, there are two key means of epidemic control. The first is social distancing, which the U.S. is using. In Italy these measures did not dampen the epidemic after several weeks of near complete shutdown. The only proven technique is forced quarantine of all patients and all of their contacts. China triumphed with this strategy.

One keynote about distancing. Some still believe that fist pumps and elbow handshakes are permissible. They are not. You want a distance of at least six feet. One report has the virus spreading at over 10 feet. The LA times had a clever article showing the various kinds of new greetings such as joined palms, hands on the heart, a Vulcan salute for Trekkies or for surfers, shaka greetings.

This is determined by modeling the disease based on available data. There is very little good data in the United States, so models are imprecise. With better and better data, modelers will be able to more accurately determine how many get infected and how many die.

The model which has directed the White House and UK planning, was developed by the Imperial College in London, the most respected of over 100 scientists. Let's take a closer look.

The most vital line is the red one showing the critical care bed capacity. In every single model this number is exceeded, meaning the doctors will have to ration healthcare and determine who lives and dies based on their chances of survival with intensive treatment on a ventilator.

Starting on the left, you can see the most severe numbers if nothing were done. Now, let's start from the bottom with the blue curve, isolating cases and doing home quarantine and social distancing. Less severe strategies are closing schools and home quarantine with less promising results. These models are not holding up in the Italian experience, whereas of late March cases continue to soar, despite draconian regulations.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author. The content is intended to provide general information on the nature of the pandemic, potential exposures, and is not intended to provide medical advice or address medical concerns or specific risk circumstances. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider regarding a medical condition. Neither DeVry University nor its employees or business partners, nor any contributor to this content, makes any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.

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