Businesses across all industries are paying attention to how the government is handling COVID-19, and the specific steps that are being taken to reduce transmission. Legal teams advising these businesses play a critical role in helping their clients navigate this pandemic and avoid litigation. In order to deepen the understanding that attorneys and their clients have on these matters, guidance should be sought out from medical experts involved in the complexities of COVID-19 every day.
Round Table Group has assembled a COVID-19 practice group, composed of leading medical minds on these critical issues. In this article, several medical expert witnesses discus methods of COVID-19 transmission, and what attorneys and their clients can learn from governmental intervention.
“Whether you call this airborne or droplet is partly semantics, as in effect, there is no crystal-clear distinction,” says Dr. Ramzi Asfour, MD, an internationally known infectious disease expert. Dr. Asfour is integrally involved with helping hospitals and nursing homes write policies, procedures, and protocols related to COVID-19 infection control, prevention and mitigation.
“It depends partly on the specific activities being performed (singing is worse than talking in a low voice), the ventilation of the space concerned (outdoor less risky than a well-ventilated room indoors, which is less risky than a poorly ventilated room)”, says Dr. Asfour.
While experts explain that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from person to person, the potential to become infected from a contaminated surface does exist. Dr. JoLynn Montgomery, an infectious disease epidemiologist, says, “When a virus is exhaled, heavy droplets that contain the virus fall to the group or other surfaces. The virus can remain viable on surfaces for hours or days, depending on the type of surface. Someone would have to touch a contaminated surface and then rub their eyes, nose, or mouth. This is a less common way for COVID-19 to spread.”
Federal, state, and local governments all have a role in reducing COVID-19 transmission. Business leaders should be paying attention to how governments are intervening to ensure they are in alignment with expectations set by these government entities.
Dr. Ty Gluckman, MD, FACC, FAHA has been a board-certified cardiologist for 14 years and is currently involved in education, policy, and research related to COVID-19. He brings an extremely informed perspective of the government’s role during this pandemic. He advises, “The key to mitigating impact is consistent education/updates from government officials, limited reopening informed by case counts, learning from missteps and ways to take corrective action, and more coordinated contact tracing and public health measures.”
There is some concern emerging from government entities regarding how cost-effective our approach to lowering infection rates is. Dr. Montgomery addresses this concern with a call to shift priorities. She explains, “Opting to fund a full-fledged public health response does not take money away from the economy. In fact, it is just the opposite. There is no economy without the health of people. We must invest in a public health response to keep our economy alive. This means resources for disease surveillance, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and quarantine (both for individuals and populations).”
Legal teams understand the importance of their guidance for clients expecting litigation related to COVID-19. Medical expert witnesses are a precious resource to these attorneys, particularly in a consulting role before a dispute does arise.
Our COVID-19 practice group is at the forefront of all critical pandemic-related issues, which is why attorneys around the country are turning to our experts for guidance. If you would like to retain members of our COVID-19 practice group, or expand your search for related expert witnesses, contact us at 202-908-4500.