US health officials are now urging Americans to limit the amount of times they visit the grocery store or pharmacy as the country braces for a ‘peak death week’ amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though supermarkets and pharmacies remain open despite the widespread lockdowns, Assistant Health Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir said on Monday that people should limit how many times they go per week.
Giroir, who is a physician and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said people should be doing as much as possible to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.
‘Don’t go every day to the grocery store like many people do,’ he told NBC’s Today.
Even though supermarkets and pharmacies remain open despite the widespread lockdowns, Assistant Health Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir said on Monday that people should limit how many times they go per week
‘Anything you can do to protect yourself to avoid yourself from getting this virus and being in the hospital for a month or potentially facing death, I think it’s advised to do that.’
As of Monday, at least four supermarket employees have died from COVID-19 as grocers’ begin recording their first employee pandemic-related deaths.
Two Walmart employees at the same Chicago-area store, a Trader Joe’s worker in New York, and a greeter at a Maryland Giant grocery store have been identified as victims.
For supermarket employees, who’ve worked on thee frontlines during the outbreak, the fear of contracting the coronavirus is all too real.
‘One of the biggest mistakes supermarkets made early on was not allowing employees to wear masks and gloves the way they wanted to,’ said supermarket analyst Phil Lempert.
‘They’re starting to become proactive now, but it’s still going to be much tougher to hire hundreds of thousands of new workers.
‘We’re going to start seeing people say, “I’ll just stay unemployed instead of risking my life for a temporary job.”‘
It comes just a day after Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, urged Americans to do the same.
Her advice was directed specifically to those in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington DC, which are places that have emerged as potential hot spots given they are still only on the upside of the outbreak curve.
‘This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing their hands,’ Dr Birx said.
Meanwhile, Giroir doubled down on his warning saying that no one is immune from the coronavirus.
‘Whether you live in small town America or you live in the Big Apple, everyone is susceptible to this and everyone needs to follow the precautions we’ve laid out,’ he said.
Speaking on Good Morning America, Admiral Brett Giroir said this week would be the worst week for those three states but ‘that doesn’t mean we’re over it’
Giroir, who is a physician and member of the White House coronavirus task force, said people should be doing as much as possible to avoid exposure to the coronavirus
‘Even though we say this is going to be the peak, if we let our foot off the gas and start doing things that are ill-advised, we could have another peak in another few weeks.’
In a separate interview with ABC’s GMA, Giroir girded the country for a ‘peak death week’ from the coronavirus pandemic.
‘It’s going to be the peak hospitalization, peak ICU week and unfortunately, peak death week,’ he said.
Giroir raised particular alarm for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Detroit as he reinforced the messaging from Surgeon General Jerome Adams who warned on Sunday: ‘This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.’
‘That doesn’t mean we’re over it. There are other parts of the country that will peak a a later date; New Orleans, Louisiana etc,’ Giroir said.
‘Do the social distancing, wear the masks – that’s how we’re going to defeat this virus.’
He also said he was ‘very optimistic’ about blood tests that are in development that will allow tens of millions of people to be tested to find out if they have had the virus and recovered from it or not.
If the test proves they have recovered from it, it will suggest they are immune and are able to go back to work.
There are two types of that test that are being discussed; both center on antibodies and blood plasma that could then be used to treat those who are sick with the virus and build up their immunity to it.
‘When we get to the next phase, it will be a combination of the kind of tests we do now plus serologic tests which is a drop of blood, it’s very, very quick.
‘They will tell you if you’ve been exposed to the virus. That’s very important as we think about reopening the country and the economy.
‘If you’ve had the virus, in all probability, you are safe and immune. For the serologic test we’re very optimistic.
‘There are several going through the FDS right now. We want to make sure these tests are highly validated and that their performance is excellent,’ he said, adding: ‘I’m personally very optimistic that by May, we’re going to have these in very large quantities.’