Cassidy: We’re all going to be affected

United States Senator Bill Cassidy shared federal insights into the COVID-19 pandemic during a teleconference on Wednesday. “We’re all going to be affected,” he said. “The older the more. The younger the less, but the younger can give it to the older.”

Cassidy, a medical doctor, said the virus has a high transmission rate with one infected person being able to spread the illness to two to three other people. “As long as it’s infecting more than one person, it will continue to expand,” he said.

During this initial phase of viral spread, he estimated that 40 percent of the population will be infected, though many will not know they are. “Most people who are infected do not have symptoms. Only about half of those who have symptoms have a fever. Symptoms are not really a reliable indicator to your risk to infect other people,” he said.

Measures to reduce the spread like closures and social distancing are effective, he said, and he has not heard any talk of a nationwide lockdown. “You know my guess is that there are not many cases of this in small towns across the nation. Without testing we don’t know.”

In towns that have not been penetrated by the virus yet, people are “probably” safe to go about their daily lives, he said. “People have to live. Right now, if somebody needs to go get groceries, they need to go get groceries.”

Cassidy said he was concerned with citizens developing “behavior fatigue” with high numbers of closures. “Everybody is locked up so long and no one gets sick, so they stop believing that it’s an emergency. We know it’s a problem in the bigger cities. We don’t know about the smaller cities.”

To combat behavior fatigue, he said teams are working towards possibly developing guidelines more tailored to specific population densities. “If you’re in a small town maybe a different set of rules until it’s appropriate for you to have the same rules as a bigger city. That’s what public health is working towards and I’m doing whatever I can to enable that.”

Washington is simultaneously working to improve the health of the nation and pocketbooks of Americans, Cassidy said. “If we take care of one but destroy the other, whichever one is destroyed [then] families, individuals or society is much worse off.”

A recovery package is already on the table in Congress that will attempt to “get the American economy over this rough patch.” The package includes incentives for industries Louisiana depends on like tourism, oil and gas and the ports, he said.

Citizens who work in the “gig economy” like Airbnb, Lyft and Uber are also included in the package, he said.

The current package could result in checks being mailed in April for citizens “below a certain income level.” A second check could be mailed six to eight weeks later “depending on how the epidemic is going,” he said.

Washington is also working to expand access to telehealth and the use of home health to “meet a tremendous need” in senior care during this time. In the past home health was only ordered if certain distance requirements were met.

“Now the patient can be three miles away,” he said.

The current bill is not the only work to be done in Washington regarding health and financial recovery. There is already a phase three in the work, he said.

“This bill that we’re passing this week will not be the end all.”U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy

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