As Coronavirus Crisis Continues, Hospitals Prepare And Washington Responds

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A public service announcement about coronavirus prevention is displayed on an electronic traffic message board as an ambulance travels northbound on Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)
A public service announcement about coronavirus prevention is displayed on an electronic traffic message board as an ambulance travels northbound on Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

We'll have the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, including how hospitals are coping and what’s next from Washington.


Donald McNeil, New York Times science and health reporter specializing in plagues and pestilences. He's covered AIDS, Ebola, malaria, mad cow disease, swine and bird flu, Zika, SARS, and more.

Dr. Leana Wen, Professor of public health at George Washington University. Former Baltimore health commissioner. Emergency physician. (@DrLeanaWen)

Kimberly Atkins, senior news correspondent for WBUR covering national politics. (@KimberlyEAtkins)

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From The Reading List

The New York Times: "The Virus Can Be Stopped, But Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say" — "Terrifying though the coronavirus may be, it can be turned back. China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have demonstrated that, with furious efforts, the contagion can be brought to heel.

"Whether they can keep it suppressed remains to be seen. But for the United States to repeat their successes will take extraordinary levels of coordination and money from the country’s leaders, and extraordinary levels of trust and cooperation from citizens. It will also require international partnerships in an interconnected world.

"There is a chance to stop the coronavirus. This contagion has a weakness. Although there are incidents of rampant spread, as happened on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, the coronavirus more often infects clusters of family members, friends and work colleagues, said Dr. David L. Heymann, who chairs an expert panel advising the World Health Organization on emergencies."

The New York Times: "Our Infectious Diseases Reporter on the ‘Urgent’ Response to the Coronavirus" — "... If you get the disease, you are most likely — 75 percent to 80 percent likely — to transmit it to people who are in your household, in your family or people who are in close contact with you at all times. A family in New Rochelle, N.Y., is probably where every single case in New York City came from right now.

"The entire outbreak in Seattle leads back to one person. We know that from genetic testing. When it’s all over, you can look at the situation and see what looked like a blanket over the whole city was actually a whole bunch of clusters.

"... We need to shut down all travel, as experts have said. And then we really aggressively tackle the clusters. People have got to stop shaking hands; people have got to stop going to bars and restaurants. New clusters are appearing every day.

"It’s basically urgent that America imitates what China did. China had a massive outbreak in Wuhan, spreading all over the country, and they’ve almost stopped it. We can shut off the roads, flights, buses and trains. I don’t think we’ll ever succeed at doing exactly what China did. It’s going to cause massive social disruption because Americans don’t like being told what to do."

Rolling Stone: "We Still Aren’t Doing Nearly Enough Testing for Coronavirus" — "At the end of last week, I got the sort of text we’re all dreading right now: The parent of a kid in my son’s carpool had tested positive for COVID-19. After privately freaking out, I emailed the family asking if they would please let us know the test results for the child who had been in the van with our son. In my naiveté, I assumed that if you had shared a bathroom and a kitchen and any number of meals with someone who had the virus, if that person had walked you hand-in-hand to catch the van to school, had helped you with your homework at night, had maybe even brushed your teeth, you would automatically get tested. I was very, very wrong.

"In our cascading awareness of the severity of the COVID-19 threat and of the colossal SNAFU in getting functional testing kits out to the American public, that moment of blissful ignorance feels a lifetime away. We now know — rather than just suspect — that the virus has been spreading undetected in the United States for weeks, that our government has massively, stupidly, dangerously failed where other governments have heroically succeeded, and that lack of information about who has the virus in its early stages on our shores has turned a deadly problem into an exponentially deadlier one.

"But still, the question remains: Who gets tested for coronavirus, and how? To find out, I got on a (socially distanced) phone call with Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, and the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore. What she shared was informative — but sobering."

This program aired on March 23, 2020.


Brittany Knotts Freelance Producer
Brittany Knotts is a freelance producer for On Point.


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Meghna Chakrabarti Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.



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