Coronavirus in Memphis, Tennessee, US
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Mar 16, 2020 Update
We Asked: What is currently happening with regard to the Coronavirus outbreak in your area? Please provide as much detail as possible. She replied...
TN has declared a state of emergency and has asked residents to work from home if possible, stay home, and has restricted gatherings of more than 50 people. Schools in the greater Memphis area are all closed for two weeks starting today and most other areas of the state are closing schools. Last week was crazy in the grocery stores with people thinking they would be quarantined so hoarding began. I went to grocery this morning and got what I need for a week or so with no issues.
The biggest issue that government is trying to resolve is the slow ability to test people who have been exposed to COVD-19 or is showing any symptoms of COVID-19. The mid-day news just indicated that 2 millions test kits will be distributed today or tomorrow to the states will more being produced. We are all hoping that with people cooperating in not gathering in large groups, staying away from family and friends who are over 60 years old or anyone with immune system issues. Unfortunately there is a large part of the citizens who still think this is fake and not something they should be concerned about.
On a national level US citizens or green card holders can continue entering the US but may be required to enter a 14 day quarantine. The biggest issue for those wanting to return to the US will probably be the lack of flights coming to the US from abroad.
We had a trip to Las Vegas planned before this occurred but as of tomorrow casinos and their hotels, restaurants in those properties, etc will all be closing for at least 2 weeks with some casinos saying they hope to reopen in April sometime. Airlines for the most part have been great in issuing vouchers for cancellation of flights and no cancellation fees. I personally know that MGM Resorts is automatically canceling all reservations through March 31 & issuing refunds.
How People are Coping
We Asked: How are people handling the situation in your area? She replied...
The majority are following suggestions to stay at home, work at home, etc. However, there is a large group of Americans that still thinks it's fake news and they shouldn't be worried about it.
Changing Conditions as coronavirus Spreads
We Asked: How has the situation changed as the Coronavirus has spread? She replied...
People are finally listening to the specialists who have finally gotten to discuss this openly with the press and on tv, Initially the President said the virus was nothing to be concerned about and that it would be gone in less than a week. He also would not allow the CDC or the specialists to make any announcements without it being reviewed by the White House. As soon as more people got sick and people starting dying, the specialists starting speaking out and taking more control.
We Asked: Describe how the government of the country about which you are reporting is handling this situation. She replied...
City, county and state governments have led in discouraging group activities and declaring states of emergency to both get people's attention and to access funds available for such issues. There was no preparation by the US government due to the existing President closing down a huge portion of the CDC two years ago because he thought research wasn't needed. The state of TN was only given 100 tests initially, and that has continued to slowly increase. More places are being certified to both test and process tests with the newest ones coming out this week provide test results in just a few hours compared to two days up to now.
Government Response with Regard to Expats
We Asked: Describe how your home country's government has handled the outbreak situation with regards to its expatriate citizens. She replied...
The US announcements were not done properly and many people overseas panicked thinking they had to return to the US from Europe by a certain date. The major airports in the US weren't prepared at all to get people through immigration and do any significant testing and it was taking as much as 5 hours to get through.
Supplies and Shortages
We Asked: Is there a shortage of supplies in your location? She replied...
There is still a shortage of testing kits and labs certified to do the tests. This is slowly improving but even if you believe you've been exposed or have symptoms it's not easy to get tested.
In Memphis, there was a run on the grocery stores which wiped out all supplies and food. Today I was at grocery store and lots of stockers were putting out as much as possible.
Preparing for the Future
We Asked: What are you doing in terms of preparations in case the situation deteriorates in your location? She replied...
We are seniors and are staying at home as much as possible. We have food for at least two weeks, medicine for 90 days and have canceled any trips we had planned.
Lockdown & Passing the Time
We Asked: Are you staying home? If so, how are you passing the time?
Yes. TV, online movies, reading, Facebook, websites that provide info on what's going on outside of the US. Weather is warming up so will be nice to sit out on our deck and watch the birds.
Public Healthcare & Public Hospitals
We Asked: Are you enrolled in the public healthcare system where you live? Do you feel that the public hospitals are handling or preparing for the Coronavirus outbreak effectively? She replied...
We are seniors and have a Medicare Advantage insurance (public/private) plan that is managed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield TN and have been assured that we are covered should be contract Covid-19. Our concern is not right now as it will be as Covid-19 patients overrun the hospitals and people with other emergencies have no place to go. Hopefully, the military will be activated to begin setting up temporary hospitals where Covid-19 patients can be initially handled to keep them separated from other patients. There will be a dire shortage of ventilation machines also.
Private Health Insurance & Private Hospitals
We Asked: Do you have private health insurance? If you have private insurance, does this give you access to private hospitals? Are private hospitals or clinics better prepared, less prepared, or the same? Please explain. She replied...
All hospitals will have the same issues with lack of emergency room space, lack of beds, lack of ventilation equipment and staff shortages as the virus spreads.
Hospital of Choice for Coronavirus Treatment
We Asked: Would you choose a public or private hospital if you needed treatment for Coronavirus? Why? If there is a specific hospital that you would go to in the event of severe illness? Which hospital and why? She replied...
We have several hospitals in Memphis any of which would be a good choice. We are covered to go to any hospital available for the problem we may need hospitalization for. There will need to be temporary hospital facilities created along with places where people can be quarantined if diagnosed with Covid-19. Discussions are now beginning about finding hotels that could be converted to quarantine facilities. It will be critical to separate the ill from the well to slow down the spread of the virus. Currently people are being quarantined at home but this won't work as more of the population gets the virus.
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