On April 8, 2020, the Greater Baltimore Committee and GBC’s Health Care Committee hosted a special webinar on COVID-19 for GBC members. Close to 300 registrants were in attendance for the informative discussion moderated by Tom Lewis, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.
During his opening remarks, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels provided an overview of Johns Hopkins’ role in the national COVID-19 response.
Kevin Sowers, President of the Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) and Executive Vice President of Johns Hopkins Medicine, discussed JHHS’ role in tracking global cases, as well as health system preparedness and response. He provided a few startling statistics, including that telemedicine visits had increased from 8 per day to 1,200 per day. Sowers also said that Hopkins’ has the ability to administer approximately 1,000 COVID-19 tests per day and will likely expand its capacity to 1,500 by next week.
Sowers mentioned the shortage of blood in the country, noted that “masking by itself does not protect you from COVID” and discussed some of Hopkins partnerships, including a partnership with University of Maryland Medical System and CareFirst. When asked about advice for living with someone who may be COVID-positive, he suggested using diluted bleach to clean surfaces and trying to maintain separate bathrooms.
Lisa Cooper, Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, discussed disparities and community impact, noting that for some “social distancing is a privilege. Only one in five black and one in six Hispanic” people are actually able to work from home. Cooper also noted that they’re seeing an increased rate of domestic violence in the country.
(See the Johns Hopkins Center for Equity Health Equity Hub.)
Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, talked about the importance of communication in a public health crisis, which he said, “is critical. We need everyone in the community to take action.” He noted that the six important things to keep in mind in effective communication are:
- Express empathy
- Promote action
- Show respect
(See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication.)
Several participant questions that followed the discussion focused on who is more susceptible to the virus. Cooper said that people with underlying medical conditions such as those with diabetes, heart disease and auto-immune conditions have an increased risk for getting infected and having a more severe form, but “we’re seeing people who are healthy getting it.” She said, “A lot of young people are not engaging in social distancing behavior. We’re going to continue to see rates go up until people do what they’re supposed to do.”
Sowers added that people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are the “largest population we’re seeing in hospitals right now. We have seen some young people with no pre-existing conditions get very ill.”
“We’re not by any stretch out of the woods,” said Sharfstein.
More resources: Johns Hopkins Community Support and Volunteer Opportunities
Thanks to Johns Hopkins for lending their expertise and to everyone who attended. As we continue to schedule more informative webinars and virtual discussions, we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date.