Daily COVID-19 Update: March 21, 2020

Dear Bereans,

This is the update for Saturday, March 21, 2020

Beginning with a general, still positive, announcement:

Provost Strong-Leek and I have been taking turns participating in the daily briefing of Madison County’s Emergency Management team, convened by our Judge Executive, Reagan Taylor.  We are happy to report that there are to this point no confirmed cases in our county and that local officials are very actively involved in developing plans and procuring the necessary materials and equipment, should we eventually have an outbreak in our area.

Update to this note at 12:23 p.m.:

Dear Bereans,

I had only just sent the update for today, when the announcement below arrived.

It appears that this first case does not pose particular danger for us in Berea, but it is reasonable to expect that there will now be other reports, locally.  We will be monitoring the situation carefully.

Pr. Roelofs

Announcement from the AC

The next necessary actions we are anticipating relate to further restrictions on operations due either to a government order similar to what has been enacted so far in Washington, California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut or to the confirmation of a case in the community.  We are developing the necessary plans.

A Perspective on the COVID-19 Virus from the Nursing Department

By Dr. Monica Kennison, RN, Susan V. Clayton Chair of Nursing and Chair and Professor of Nursing

Over three million nurses in the U.S. workforce are on the frontlines caring for patients with COVID-19 and preventing its spread in hospitals, schools, homes and communities. We are trained and at the ready to respond to healthcare crises as part of our job, that is what we signed up for when we became licensed.  To that end, we follow the Centers for Disease Control, health department and federal guidelines that, as we all know, are rapidly changing.

I am not afraid of COVID-19. I am hopeful. While much more contagious than the influenza virus, nurses, alongside the entire U.S. healthcare force, have diligently implemented interdisciplinary best-evidence-available plans to combat COVID-19 just as we did in 2003 when the novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus emerged and again in 2009 when a novel influenza virus, H1N1, emerged. Both became national and global pandemics. Nurses are adapting, connecting, advocating and, as always, stepping up and prevailing.

How to protect yourself

A Literary Perspective on the COVID-19 Virus

By Dr. Steve Gowler, Chester D. Tripp Chair in Humanities and Professor of General Studies

As I watch the evening news these days, I am relieved when a politician or journalist relinquishes the microphone to a public health official.  Nearly always, these experts who have devoted their lives to keeping us safe and healthy speak with refreshing candor and precision.  They remind me of Dr. Rieux, the protagonist of Albert Camus’s great novel The Plague (La Peste). A work of allegorical fiction, The Plague describes a 1940s outbreak of the bubonic plague in the port city of Oran, Algeria. Unlike COVID-19, the plague is bacterial rather than viral, but both are highly contagious, share many symptoms, and all too often are fatal. Early in the novel, city leaders are reluctant to admit the plague is present and to implement a quarantine. Finally, though, they yield to the expertise of Dr. Rieux.  He’s an unlikely hero and, like many heroes, he would adamantly deny the label.  What makes him exemplary stems from a concise set of intellectual virtues: clear-eyed acknowledgment of facts, steadfast persistence in the face of difficult circumstances, and straight talk. Like the health professionals guiding us today, Dr. Rieux reminds us that our individual and collective well-being depends upon something rare and powerful—truth-telling.

(A P.S. to this elegant and compact perspective: the noted conservative columnist George Will wrote on the same theme on the same day as I received this piece from Steve, but I don’t think that either borrowed from the other.  You can find Will’s less elegant and compact version by Googling George Will column the Plague.)

Stay safe, everyone!

Lyle Roelofs, President