ARLINGTON, VA - In the latest episode of the Women Rule podcast, Women Rule Editorial Director Anna Palmer speaks with Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, about the state of the coronavirus pandemic, the need for personal protective equipment and her prediction for when society will to return to normal.
Orlowski shares her reaction to how the Trump administration has handled the outbreak, her thoughts on the timing of America's Covid-19 response and the ways she is personally approaching life in this era.
On her level of concern about coronavirus: "The U.S. needs to continue to prepare ourselves, because the number of cases will continue to rise until mid to late April. My colleagues and I looked at statistics, and we expect that there will be a continual rise until around April 16th, April 17th. The numbers are beginning to say this is likely where the peak of the epidemic is going to be. We need to continue to prepare our health care systems and our health care workforce for what is going to be a continual rise in cases at least for the next two weeks, and then a sustained number of cases probably for, I'd say, seven weeks after that."
On America's preparedness: "I would say that we have become prepared in this country after major events. So, for example, after 9/11, there was a lot of preparedness money out there. After the Ebola crisis several years ago, again there was a ramp-up: How do we get ready? What do we do? There are groups of hospitals, particularly teaching hospitals, that have remained ready; dollars were given to institutions to remain at ready-alert status. So what did they do? They bought ventilators. They had training for their folks. They bought respirators. They bought PPE. Most of that money has dwindled to practically nothing within the last year or two. And as we take a look within the government, certain preparedness programs were shut down or were moved into other areas. It didn't have the same attention, and therefore not the same amount of money — not the same amount of direction that we needed for something like this."
On when life will return to normal: "I believe that we're going to return to a semi-normal life at the end of May — Memorial Day. But the other thing that I would say is that we have to prepare ourselves to go through a similar exercise in the fall, in the late fall. If you take a look at the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, and if you take a look at how coronavirus is acting, this is not just the winter and spring of 2020. Probably late November, by December, we are going to go through this again."
Listen to the podcast here.