GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Flattening the coronavirus curve: that’s why we’re staying at home and away from one another. But when will it pay off?
“We are at a critical point in this epidemic,” Dr. Adam London, the administrative health officer for the Kent County Health Department, told News 8 Thursday. “The key now is that people need to stick with that game plan, right now and for the next several weeks.”
London has been studying all of the models and the coronavirus cases coming in daily.
“I believe in the next week or two, we are really going to see how effective our social distancing has been,” he said.
The stay-at-home order began a little more than a week ago on March 24. Symptoms for the coronavirus can take a week or two to start showing, so it’s hard to draw any clear conclusions just yet. But London said the latest models show a peak in COVID-19 cases will likely happen between late April and late May.
Right now, experts believe if we stay home and practice social distancing, we could be done with the stay-at-home order by May or June at the latest.
“The worst-case models … show that if we did nothing here in Kent County, we would expect between 5,000 and 10,000 deaths,” London said.
If we follow social distancing, the number of deaths drops dramatically to fewer than 2,000 in Kent County.
“There are people who would like us to get through this as quickly as possible,” London said. “The challenge with that is the quicker we get through this really means exposing more people in a rapid fashion.”
Because this type of coronavirus is new, no one is immune to it and there is not a vaccine yet. That means for now, the only way to fight the virus is by washing your hands frequently and social distancing.
“We don’t have a lot of tools and that’s the challenge with coronavirus,” London said.
The Kent County Health Department expects the stay-at-home order to relax in the coming months. If the data shows the increase in cases flattening, restaurants and other business will be able to reopen with occupancy limitations.
The Kent County Health Department investigates every positive COVID-19 case and is finding that people are going out to public even after they show symptoms. If you are feeling sick, especially if you have a fever, you need to stay home.
There is state and federal aid for people missing work. You can call 211 for assistance.