COVID-19 Daily Summary – March 15, 2020

Author(s): Carmi Levy

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It’s been an eventful weekend in the evolution of the global COVID-19 pandemic, so let’s dive right into the most notable changes we’ve seen in the news cycle thus far. Info-Tech will continue to update you via this Daily Summary every day of the week, including weekends, as this global crisis continues to unfold. Check our COVID-19 Resource Center regularly for updated research and guidance.

Recent milestones

March 15

  • Regional and national lockdowns expand. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, says in an interview he’d “like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see” in places like restaurants and bars to slow down the spread of the virus. A number of states and cities move forward with dramatic activity-reduction policies. Hoboken, New Jersey, implements a city-wide curfew, starting Monday, with residents confined to their homes between 10pm and 5am, except for those who work. Austin, Texas, bans gatherings of 250 people or more. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo restricts gatherings state-wide of 500 or more people, except for schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and mass transit.
  • Gouging gets targeted. In response to reports of long lines in store, shelves stripped of consumer essentials, and some opportunistic shoppers buying certain goods in bulk, then reselling them for profit, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs an executive order that bans price gouging on goods, materials, emergency supplies, and consumer food items.
  • Commercial aviation cuts its fleet. American Airlines confirms it will move up the retirement dates for its legacy 757 and 767 aircraft, while KLM will do the same for its 747 fleet. Emirates grounds part of its A380 superjumbo fleet.

March 14

  • National restrictions tighten. French prime minister Edouard Philippe orders all “non-essential locations,” including cafes, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, and shops, to close. Greece closes schools, universities, and ancient landmarks. The Philippines enacts a month-long curfew, with soldiers sealing off the capital city of Manila.
  • Borders increasingly affected. Denmark closes its border entirely to foreigners, while Poland announces similar restrictions scheduled to be implemented Sunday. Taiwan imposes a mandatory quarantine on incoming travellers from Europe and Dubai.
  • Retail reacts. Some major US retailers begin shifting to reduced schedules. Walmart announces restricted hours in its 4,700 American stores – from 6am to 11pm – until further notice. Grocery chains including Publix, Giant, Stop & Shop, and H-E-B also announce shortened hours to give employees enough time to restock shelves and conduct enhanced in-store cleaning. Other retailers decide to halt operations entirely. Urban Outfitters confirms its stores worldwide will close until at least March 28. Patagonia, Glossier, and Neighborhood Goods also shutter their outlets.
  • More sports are impacted. The World Curling Federation cancels its men’s curling world championship in Glasgow, Scotland, and NCAA-affiliated leagues in the US end their college seasons. Meanwhile, a number of teams step up to provide financial support for those affected by pandemic-related cancellations. In Los Angeles, the NBA’s Lakers and NHL’s Kings establish a fund to help the approximately 2,800 hourly staff at the STAPLES Center. In Chicago, the Bulls basketball and the Blackhawks hockey teams announce plans to continue paying the 1,200 day-of-game employees at the United Center. The skiing industry takes a hit as Colorado Governor Jared Polis orders downhill ski resorts to close for a week. Resorts across the North America and Europe announce shutdowns to limit the impact in areas with limited access to health care.
  • Religion goes quiet. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and other centres of worship cancel prayer services and shift activities online.

March 13

  • Olympics still on, but… The International Olympic Committee cancels the entire Greek leg of its torch relay, even as it “confirms its full commitment” to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, scheduled from July 24 to August 9.
  • Formula One continues to cut. The global auto racing body announces the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix. The first four races of the season – in addition to Melbourne, those in Bahrain, Vietnam, and China – are now off the schedule, while the next three, in the Netherlands, Spain, and Monaco, look increasingly likely to be scrubbed.

Today’s theme: Teamwork & collaboration

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb

IT professionals often think technology can and will solve any problem. But of the three pillars of IT – people, process, technology – Info-Tech firmly believes that people often don’t get the attention they deserve. Your IT staff are the most valuable assets that you have and protecting and ensuring their safety should be the organization’s primary concern.

Teams around the world are working together in innovative ways to ensure the protection of their workforce, their community, and their families. The UK’s National Health Service announced an unprecedented partnership with private sector healthcare providers to free up public resources and accelerate service delivery. In Taiwan, lessons from the 2003 SARS epidemic are helping officials there keep infection rates lower than would otherwise be expected. National and local governments are partnering on common data sharing platforms and dashboards, allowing officials to make critical decisions – and implement decisive actions – faster.

Scientific journals are lifting paywall restrictions so researchers all over the globe can access the most recent COVID-19 papers as fast as possible without restriction. Whatever it might look like, it’s clear teamwork will be a key ingredient in optimizing the organization’s response to the crisis.

Why washing hands remains key

  • Three requirements must be satisfied for successful viral infection:
    • There must be sufficient viable virus titre to establish the infection.
    • There must be host cells that are susceptible to the virus and capable of replicating the virus.
    • The host immunity cannot immediately abort the infection.
  • The respiratory tract is one of the most important sites of entry for viruses, especially viruses that infect tissues of the respiratory tract including influenza viruses and coronaviruses.
  • Aerosol droplets containing virions can be inhaled into the lungs, where virus particles can then infect alveolar epithelial cells, thus causing viral pneumonia.
  • Coronaviruses spread primarily through close person-to-person contact, aerosol transmission, and by touch.
  • The CDC recommends washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.
  • Bottom line: Wash your hands!

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