Data Shows Us Why Now is the Time to Act

The U.S. Coronavirus Taskforce offered some urgent estimations about deaths from coronavirus that may occur in the coming months.  New projections show that up to 240,000 people could die from COVID-19 throughout the United States. We are now in a situation where it will take all of us to follow the guidelines put in place by national, state and local public health experts, and help our fellow Americans not only fight to end coronavirus, but to save lives.

During a public health crisis, scientists rely heavily on data about a disease to make their projections. But coronavirus is new, so with that comes limited data. Projections will be based on what data we have from China, Italy, and more importantly, what we are seeing in real time in places like New York City.  

Data helps with emergency preparedness to minimize the impact of a public health crisis—and coronavirus is the greatest public health crisis we have seen in 100 years. It’s important that we have the right medicines available, the right medical supplies and the right emergency planning to save lives.  

However, then the question becomes the amount of supplies and medicines will we need? This is why we have such a focus on this new, very sobering data. Beyond supplies and medicines, we also need the right behaviors from all of us. We need people to wash hands consistently, we need people to have at least six feet of physical distance if they have to go out, but we also need people to stay home except those involved in essential functions or to get necessities, like food and medicine.

We also need strong partnerships. We need our philanthropic organizations and businesses to come together. In a time of crisis, non-profits have the ability to move fast, and speed is essential in saving lives. In March, the CDC Foundation rapidly purchased personal protective equipment for hospitals in California–our CDC Foundation team did this in less than an hour. And, we’re now taking this action in many more places in need.

The CDC Foundation isn’t stopping there. Among many activities, we are providing on the ground support to public health departments across the country, sending personal protective gear to hospitals that are in great need and using funding to develop care packages for first responders.  We even partnered with Microsoft to establish an assessment bot on CDC’s website that can quickly assess symptoms and risk factors for people concerned about infection, provide information and suggest a next course of action.

This truly is a global race against the clock. We are all concerned about what will happen next, but we need to focus on what we can do right now. And, right now we each need to do our part, whether it be social distancing or on the frontline as a healthcare worker—a group that we all owe so much.  We are all in this together.


Judy Monroe, MD, is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.