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Coronavirus Part IV: What's next?

On February 23, I wrote on this blog about what the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) might look like in the United States. Here's an excerpt:

It's starting to get warmer outside... Indeed, fewer cases are reported each day, but the absolute numbers are still climbing, and it's far from business as usual. You're thankful not to be in an area of the United States that's under quarantine. Nonetheless, with ongoing recommendations against nonessential travel and with many stores and restaurants still closed, the quiet streets feel like a perverse, never ending version of Christmas Day.

You hear on the news that a vaccine and definitive antiviral treatment are undergoing clinical trials, but they're not expected to complete until late 2020.

You worry it will take another year, until summer 2021, for things to return to normal.

Since that post was published, the world has indeed changed, and COVID-19 has of course touched all of our daily lives. With shelter-in-place orders being lifted across the country, we're all wondering what's next.

I am confident we'll see an uptick in cases as shelter-in-place orders are relaxed. But I agree that given the volume hospitals and ERs have experienced thus far, it's unlikely that we'll be overwhelmed to the point where we can't care for patients. As far as I can see, it's very unlikely we'll run out of ICU beds or ventilators. I think the more likely case is that if cases climb quickly as shelter-in-place orders are relaxed, those orders will be reinstated, again flattening the curve.

I think that "never-ending Christmas Day" scenario cited above is the base case and most likely outcome. I think it's also entirely possible that the grave worry I and so many others felt in March could return with a vengeance. Or, given that there is so much about this virus that we simply don't understand, I do allow for the possibility that it really has already come and gone, or that it will be less severe than we imagine even in a worst case scenario. Nonetheless, I think COVID-19 will be top-of-mind for years.

When we launched Duration Health in January 2019, we anticipated we would one day serve patients during a public health crisis, but we never imagined it would happen so quickly after our launch. Our Med Kits can help you practice social distancing and treat common acute medical issues at home, without further burdening your local healthcare resources. We can help you stay home and save lives. And, when you begin to travel again, we can help you prepare to care for yourself anywhere.

Stay safe and stay vigilant.

Image Credit By NurseTogether - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89054223