A “Coronavirus Tele-Town Hall” was held with featured speaker U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan. Guests included Dan Berlowitz, chair and professor in the department of public health at Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences at UMass Lowell; Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and professor of global health at Harvard University; and Jody White, president and CEO of Lowell General Hospital and Circle Health.
On Friday, Trahan provided updates on federal response efforts. She answered questions regarding efforts to assist low-income people, small businesses and students in the upcoming “phase III” emergency stimulus package. She also took a moment to note the “underreported rise of xenophobic attacks” against those of Asian-American descent.
During the hourlong teleconference, other topics included the role and reaction of community hospitals, the need for increased COVID-19 testing, and precautions people should take to protect themselves against infection.
When asked how community hospitals were preparing to combat the infection, Jody White outlined the need to increase the number of available hospital beds and to protect patients and staff. Additionally, he noted that even while resources are being strained or reallocated, ““Hospitals are still in business. … We still have folks who are coming in who are in need of care.”
Ashish Jha, whose article “This Is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus” was published yesterday in The Atlantic, responded to a question on the anticipated length of the response, “As long as we don’t have a vaccine, the infection will be with us.” He projected we should prepare for the response to last 12 to 18 months, but finished with a note of optimism. “The next 6 to 12 months won’t be easy,” Jha said, “but they won’t be like this.”