A top doctor warns that the American healthcare system could become overwhelmed by patients with the coronavirus if the public does not heed warnings to self-isolate and avoid mass gatherings. Dr. James Phillips, an assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital, says that the public health situation in the United States will get much worse in the coming weeks. Dr. Phillips adds that it is a very grave possibility that the country’s hospitals will not have enough beds to take care of patients. Speaking with CNN, Dr. Phillips says that two factors are driving the spread of the coronavirus, which is also known as Covid-19: problems with testing and the reality that people with no symptoms of coronavirus could be spreading the disease.
Elaborating, Dr. Phillips advises the public to act as if they have the disease. In addition to social distancing, Phillips says to keep at least 6 feet away from others in public settings until adequate testing procedures can be developed. More than 200,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide and 8,000 have died from the disease. Of that number, 6,100 are in the United States, where 110 have died thus far.
As the virus spreads, state and local governments have put new regulations in place in hopes of limiting infections. Five states, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana, and Utah, have shutdown bars and restaurants for patrons. While customers can take out food, they are not allowed to sit in the restaurant. A bar that violated this rule in Cincinnati was padlocked by the local police, who later issued a statement saying that in addition to harming the health of its customers, it also put the city’s officers at risk. 39 states have also shutdown their public school systems as many wonder if classes will resume for this school year.
States have also enacted new measures limiting the number of people at gatherings to just 50. Oregon went so far as to cap the limit at 25. These regulations come as the White House suggests limiting gatherings to just 10 people. In San Francisco, the municipal government has ordered residents to shelter in place for an indefinite timeframe. While public transportation is still running, commuters are advised to keep at least 6 feet apart from other riders. Mayor London Breeds says that while these new regulations will be burdensome for the people of San Francisco, they are essential to public health and stopping the spread of the virus.