COVID-19 Daily Summary – March 18, 2020: Build Your Pandemic Response Plan

Author(s): Carmi Levy

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Today’s theme: Action

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now. – Proverb

Recent milestones

  • Governments ramp up restrictions. Major limits on public activities kick in as cities accelerate efforts to slow down the virus. San Francisco orders its citizens to “shelter in place,” while Miami says it will shut all restaurants, theaters, and gyms by Wednesday. Dine-in restaurants will be limited to take-out and drive-through service only. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin ban gatherings of 50 or more people.
  • Gig economy ramps down. Uber suspends pool rides in the US and Canada. On-demand rides for individual bookings, as well as Uber Eats delivery service, continue to operate. Uber waives the delivery fee for local restaurants and allows food to be left at doorsteps to minimize the potential for interaction. The company also launches a financial assistance program for drivers affected by COVID-19.
  • US government rescue plan hits turbulence. A US$850 billion US rescue plan proposed by the Trump administration runs into opposition from Senate Democrats who instead counter-propose their own $750 billion bailout. The plan would fund anti-COVID-19 initiatives and provide critical support to a number of industries, including transportation, manufacturing, health care, and others, to offset the pandemic’s economic impact.
  • Key takeaway: Freedom of movement can no longer be taken for granted, which places even more urgency on remote work solutions for organizations that have been slow to activate their work-at-home strategies. Government infighting means organizations must remain laser-focused on maintaining business continuity for the foreseeable future, as assistance likely isn’t forthcoming anytime soon.

Virus 101: Flatten the curve

  • An important determinant for the spread of emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 is the reproduction number R0 – the average number of secondary cases each case generates in a susceptible population (no vaccine, no prior exposure, and no intervention).
  • If R0 remains above 1, the virus and disease continue to grow and spread throughout the population. When R0 is below 1, the virus no longer spreads above replacement and eventually person-to-person transmission peters out and the disease no longer spreads.
  • With suppression efforts such as social distancing, closures, and cancellations of large gatherings, the collective actions either reduce R0 below 1 or lower it to a point where the velocity of spread is minimized so hospitals and healthcare facilities are not overburdened. All this ensures the safety of the most vulnerable.
  • “If we allow this to get bad, it gets bad fast, and it gets horrible fast. And that’s why we have to be proactive.” – Dr. David Fisman, regarding the COVID-19 situation
  • Presently, America is in a COVID-19 phase similar to the one Italy was in a few weeks ago. The actions taken today, right now, will determine the outcomes in the weeks ahead.
  • Bottom line: We have an opportunity now to stem the spread of COVID-19, reduce its impact, and protect those who are most vulnerable. As much as you and your organization can, practice proper hand hygiene, social distancing, and remote work.

Want more?

  • We’ve updated our COVID-19 Resource Center with our latest research materials to help you make the best possible decisions for your organizations and your stakeholders. Check back often to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
  • Start your journey with our Develop a COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan blueprint. We’ve packed it with focused tools, templates, and policies to ensure your response is comprehensive, timely, and stakeholder-aligned.
  • Watch for a new Daily Summary each morning, seven days a week, for as long as the crisis continues.

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  • We are actively booking calls with our analysts. Whether your questions are large – where do I start? – or small – where can I find that blueprint? – we’re always here, 24/7, to answer them.

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