As the United States experiences the ongoing impact of COVID-19, attorneys are looking to medical experts for insight and guidance so that they can better serve their clients. In this moment, the role of federal, state and local governments is critical. There is an immediate need to slow the spread of the virus, while also ensuring that a resurgence does not occur in the future.
It’s this urgent need that has inspired us to assemble a team of leading medical experts from around the country to advise attorneys and the entities they represent on pandemic related issues. The focus of this article is the importance of governmental intervention in stopping the immediate spread of COVID-19 and avoiding a future resurgence of the virus.
To control the spread of COVID-19, or any other equally dangerous virus, local, state, and federal governments must work together on specific policies and best practices. Dr. Ramzi Asfour, MD an internationally known infectious disease expert with extensive knowledge of hospital and nursing home policy and procedures explains, “A coordinated policy for the United States as a whole, needs to be taken. Otherwise, we will not get this pandemic under control, as we are currently seeing. A more coordinated distribution of relevant supplies and medications is crucial, as is a national policy on masking.”
The type of coordinated effort that Dr. Asfour outlines requires significant investment and a crystal-clear strategy that transcends state lines and is followed throughout the country. While many businesses and individuals are hoping for a vaccine to be developed and approved within the next year, something must be done immediately to contain the developing situation.
Dr. JoLynn Montgomery, PhD, MPH is a communicable disease epidemiologist and COVID-19 mitigation expert who is currently working with a variety of organizations to assist with their COVID-19 disease control plans. She believes that, “The biggest investment need right now is testing. Everyone should know their COVID-19 status. Ideally, anyone who is infected would know they are infected and could therefore stay home to keep from spreading it to others. Tests need to be repeated regularly, since anyone can become infected.”
Another best practice that should be advocated for by the government is a nationally standardized screening process. Dr. Ty Gluckman, MD, FACC, FAHA is a board-certified cardiologist and Medical Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Analytics, Research and Data Science at the Providence Heart Institute who has been very involved in education, policy, and research related to COVID-19, Dr. Gluckman believes that screening will be effective in preventing the spread of this virus, “Temperature screening and a limited number of questions (recent sick contacts, fever, cough, shortness of breath) can be quite helpful in identifying infected patients.”
Given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has a responsibility to intervene and push for these types of policies in order to successfully slow the spread of this virus.
Many states including Florida, Arizona, and Texas have experienced a significant resurgence of cases. Dr. Gluckman’s experience researching and advising on COVID-19 over the last several months makes him uniquely qualified to speak on the steps that should be taken to avoid such resurgences.
Dr. Gluckman identifies “inconsistencies in messaging related to infection control best practices and approaches to masking played a part in the resurgence that we have been seeing in various cities.” He also explains, “the lack of access to SARS-CoV-2 testing with rapid turnaround, limits the ability to do effective contact tracing.”
Clearly state governments must provide guidance and establish protocols to help control the spread of this virus, although there is still some nuance to this issue. Dr. Montgomery explains that there are two ways to approach stopping the spread of COVID-19. The ideal approach should be based on the number of cases in each specific community.
Dr. Montgomery elaborates, “If the number of cases in a community is small, it is possible to use testing, contact tracing, and quarantine to stop the spread. If the number of cases in a community is large, it is not practical to find every case and all their contacts. Instead, we need to act as though everyone has been exposed and issue mass shelter-in-place orders and impose wide-spread quarantine.”
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires a unified effort, which can be improved by decisive governmental intervention. Medical expert witnesses are playing a critical role in consulting and preparing these entities and their legal teams to help avoid or limit potential litigation in the months and years ahead.
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’d like to retain members of our COVID-19 practice group, or expand your search for related expert witnesses, contact us at 202-908-4500.