From NC Senator Jeff Jackson:
The big question: “How bad will the coronavirus be in NC?”
There’s a new estimate of how this is likely to go in NC and I want to share it with you – not because I’m certain it’s completely accurate, but because it’s the best effort that’s been made public and it gives us at least a sense of what we’re in for.
This is a chart (source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) of the expected demand for ICU beds in North Carolina and it basically says that if we keep doing what we’re doing – keep schools and non-essential businesses closed and keep our stay home order in place – then we’re going to hit peak infection in late April.
The dotted line shows that we may be on course to exceed our ICU bed capacity (which is actually a little bit higher than this chart depicts – we’ve got about 800 currently available). But the shaded area is essentially the margin of error for the prediction, so we’ve got a wide range between not exceeding capacity and dramatically exceeding it – which would mean a spike in the mortality rate.
What does this tell us? It tells us **we still have the time and ability to minimize the loss of life in our state.**
To be blunt: We are not going to have the type of widespread testing we hoped for. There are lots of reasons for that – none of which have to do with our state and all of which have to do with the federal response – but it’s a reality. We’re still using tests and they’re very important, but we’re not going to test our way out of this like South Korea did. We just didn’t get enough test kits fast enough.
But – despite that major setback – it’s still possible to minimize the loss of life in our state by making sure we don’t max out the ICU beds. We just have to take social distancing very seriously for the next several weeks. In this model, OUR BEHAVIOR is the biggest variable. How seriously WE take this will ultimately determine the mortality rate.
– We’ve only received 17% of the PPE that we requested from the federal government. That’s not good, and it’s why we’re sourcing from everywhere we can find and working with North Carolina manufacturers to switch production to PPE if at all possible.
– The state’s unemployment insurance website and call center are still facing a nightmarish traffic jam as they get slammed with 50x the normal traffic, but we are adding servers and contracted with an additional call center to help field calls. If you’re having serious trouble, please fill out this customer contact form: https://des.nc.gov/customer-contact-form.
– Regarding the federal unemployment benefit that just passed, it will be administered by the state. We’re still waiting on implementation guidance from the federal Department of Labor, at which point benefits will be paid in about two weeks. Independent contractors and people who are self-employed will qualify for the federal benefit – they do not currently qualify for the state benefit. I know the state website isn’t set up to receive applications from people who are contractors or self-employed and that’s part of what we need to fix. If you fall into this category, just file the application as best you can.
– Gov. Cooper’s new executive order means no one can shut off your electricity, gas, or water for at least the next 60 days.
– The U.S. Corps of Engineers is helping us scout for places that could be used as hospital expansions.
– We’ve launched a hotline to help critical workers connect with child care (888-600-1685).
More updates soon,
Sen. Jeff Jackson