Allentown News Mascitti

Published on February 28th, 2020

Coronavirus Update from Dr. Kara Mascitti

I am sure all of you have heard updates this week from the CDC warning us that the situation with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. is no longer an “if”, but a “when”.  That means that based on increasing global spread, we can and should expect to see sustained transmission in our country.  What does that mean for us?

At this point, it is too soon to tell.  The epidemic is changing every day and there are multiple variables that can affect the spread of this infection including changes in the virus itself, changes in weather/season, and how effectively communities respond to cases that occur.  From what we know today, the rates and modes of transmission seem similar to the Flu.  Not surprising with a new virus, however, there is a higher mortality rate of 2% with COVID-19 (compared to <0.1% with the Flu).

Our network response at this point should be “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”.  In the next week or so, we will be pulling together key stakeholders in the network to plan for the “what ifs” of any potential local or national outbreak.  This conversation will include everything from evaluating our inpatient and outpatient capacity, maintaining adequate supply chain, and ensuring adequate work force.  We will also need to consider how potential events in our community like school or business closures could affect our sustainability as a network.  As with any challenge we face in our daily roles at SLUHN, I am confident that our unique culture will enable us to work collaboratively to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, ourselves, and our communities.

Business aside, our personal response at this point should be to take several deep breaths and resist the urge to panic.  There are no current recommendations to stockpile masks or cleaning supplies and, in fact, these actions can actually threaten our ability to adequately stock our healthcare facilities.  There is no need to quarantine yourself from daily activities in our local community.  And there are no restrictions on travel within the continental U.S. or to most foreign countries.

Up-to-date information can always be found at the CDC website:

I will continue to keep you all updated as this situation evolves.

Kara Mascitti, MD, MSCE, FACP, FIDSA
Medical Director, Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Prevention
President, Network Medical Staff
Physician, St. Luke’s Infectious Disease Associates

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