Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

As COVID-19 Spreads Across The US, Restrictions Tighten And Federal Agencies Mobilize

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020 AS OF 5:15 PM EST 

To date, 258,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide have been confirmed, with more than 86,000 recoveries. The United States (US) currently has over 16,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19; however, this number is expected to continue rising. For the first time since November, on March 19, China reported no new local cases of COVID-19 but there is still ongoing concern about a second outbreak. Recently, Italy surpassed China in the number of COVID-19-related fatalities, with the number of deaths more than 3,400.

Johns Hopkins 2019-nCoV Map of Global Cases: Source

With growing concerns that the US outbreak trajectory is similar to Italy’s, hospitals and medical care facilities could soon be without adequate resources. On March 18, President Trump evoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prioritize the production and allocation of healthcare and medical resources. This Executive Order — which incentivizes US manufacturers to increase production of medical supplies needed to treat COVID-19 — is timely as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

To further expand medical capacity, the Department of Defence (DOD) began mobilizing ships to serve as overflow hospitals and deploying medical resources such as protective masks across the US. The Trump Administration activated the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at a Level 1, readying teams and emergency operations centers in the COVID-19 response.

State and local authorities continue to enact measures to ensure the safety of their citizens including social distancing which is adopted by most states at this time.  California Gov. Gavin Newsom placed restrictions on its citizens to not leave home except for essential food, medicine, and crucial jobs. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order mandating businesses with in-office workforces reduce the number of employees working in an office by 75 percent and  non-critical businesses (nail salons, tattoo parlors, other personal care service shops) close to the public. Additionally, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a Shelter In Place order for the state of Illinois until at least April 7, closing non-essential businesses but allowing restaurants to stay open for delivery and curb-side pickup.

New Visualization of the COVID-19: Source

Canada announced that it will close its borders to non-essential travel, including the US-Candaian border, in an effort to curb the transmission of COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) placed China, Iran, South Korea, Malaysia and Europe under a Level 3 Travel Notice with widespread, sustained spread of the virus. There is a Global Level 2 Travel Notice to encourage limited travel internationally especially for individuals at high-risk of contracting the virus. 

As communities continue to take focus actions to reduce the spread of the virus, organizations, businesses, and celebrities provide resources for those feeling “stuck inside.” These include, but are not limited to:

  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL), who are providing complimentary access to their streaming programs: NFL Game Pass and NBA League Pass.
  • Nightly, the Metropolitan Opera is streaming encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD
  • Musicians are providing a series of free concerts between March 20 and April 11.
  • Zoos and aquariums across the US are providing live streams of their animals, including the Cincinnati Zoo and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

WHO on Older People and COVID-19: Source

With more information and data being made available daily, public health experts believe that older adults are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Adults over the age 65 are more likely to have an underlying condition that could affect their body’s ability to fight the virus. As a result, respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 pose a more severe threat. Other coronaviruses (i.e., MERS and SARS) were also found to disproportionately impact older people.

Older adults should take preventive actions to limit exposure, including avoiding/canceling nonessential doctor and personal appointments, shopping, and public gatherings. In an effort to keep older and vulnerable people safe, many grocery stores have begun to offer special shopping times where seniors, people with disabilities, and immuno-compromised systems can shop with a less increased risk of being around a larger population.

Proactive steps to support senior and aging members of your community, while still practicing prevention steps such as social distancing, can help not only to continue ‘flattening the curve’ but also help ensure inclusion and connection at a time when many might feel isolated. For instance, offering to act as an errand buddy, using virtual technology (such as video conferencing)  “to be together”, and simply calling regularly to check in on those who live alone are great ways to offer support. The CDC also recommends knowing medications that loved ones need, monitoring food and medical supplies, and stocking up on non-perishables as ways that caregivers and family members can help support one another and older adults.

The Hagerty Team will continue to provide information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation.


 Keep track of Hagerty’s Incident coverage here: