By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – While indicators have shown that the Big Apple has so far ‘flattened the curve’ of the spread of the coronavirus, caution and coordination have been raised by local leaders in adopting measures to reopen the economy.
“We don’t want to go back to the mayhem that happened a few weeks ago. We will have to coordinate with our neighboring states. I want to go back to our old ways of doing it as I like it, but we cannot just do it at this time. One county cannot open one’s beach without a consequence to the neighboring county. This is a state matter,” Gov. Cuomo pointed out in his press conference today, April 17, 2020.
New York continues to be locked down until May 15, 2020 as governors in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are beginning to hold coordinated meetings to address the pandemic.
Congressman Robert Cortez Scott (D, Virginia, 3rd Dist.) said that he would want to use a “medical plan, not a politician’s plan” in reopening the economy. During a teleconference sponsored by group FilAms for Biden on April 16, 2020, Scott said “many tests have to be performed before we can open the economy. But the problem is that the president is not taking it seriously,” he said.
Cuomo stressed for the White House to help the states on two things: testing and funding for testing for the states.
As of April 15, 2020, New York City has a total of 123,146 confirmed COVID19 cases, 18,018 discharges and 12,199 deaths. New Jersey has a death toll of 3,840 people with more than 78,000 people to have been tested positive.
California-based Dr. Francisco Sy described the coronavirus as “fast and furious” that infected 185 countries in four months. “In the absence of a vaccine, we can only do so much testing, isolation, and contact tracing as of now,” he said during the FilAms for Biden teleconference. Sy said it is important to continue to flatten the curve by social distancing, continued frequent hand washing, and taking all self-care measures but reopening the economy may be way too early.
Sy is a medical doctor and Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Health.
“We don’t want a resurgence of cases. A careful and gradual plan is needed. For now, you need to empower yourself, educate, and heal yourself,” he said.
Sy is an infectious diseases epidemiologist, who in 2003, was tasked to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) SARS Community Outreach Team in Asian communities in the US.
As of press time, the Philippine Consulate General in New York has recorded 45 fatalities related to COVID19. New York and New Jersey remain in the epicenter of the pandemic.
In another forum sponsored by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair University in New Jersey, public health professors Dr. Sam Liu and Dr. Stephanie Silvera shared the opinion that it has to be a state and regional decision and action as far as reopening the economy is concerned.
Liu said “There is no one size fits all formula. But we have to have a careful plan and have to be done in phases.” She emphasized the need for access to testing.
Silvera expressed caution on reopening the economy too soon, citing the experience of Japan which is currently undergoing a second peak of the pandemic. “Second outbreaks are more serious,” she warned.
Forum participant Dr. Norman Scherzer, an epidemiologist who worked with CDC for 20 years, cited a particular weakness in the current system of pandemic response which is the lack of contact tracing and the delay between the date of the test and the actual result of the test. “This opens the public to exposure and infection and has to be addressed immediately,” he said.