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Voices: Please help us flatten the curve

Anthony D. Slonim, Joseph J. Grzymski, Paul R. Sierzenski and Amy McCombs

Special to the NNBW

Tony Slonim
Courtesy Renown Health

On March 17, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced statewide closures of non-essential businesses.

While this is a difficult decision for the people and businesses of Nevada, it is the right decision during this unprecedented outbreak of the respiratory virus SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19. It is important to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of our communities.

This is a novel virus, meaning at some point in late 2019, this virus, which likely originated in bats, infected a human being in the Hubei Province of China. Then, the virus mutated and began to transmit among humans. It is now spreading rapidly throughout a world population that may have little natural immunity to help protect itself from this new strain of virus.

It appears that in many cases the disease is very mild and even asymptomatic. Herein lies the problem, which also mandates the need for self-isolation — if a majority of infected individuals have no idea they are contagious, they put the health of everyone around them in jeopardy. The elderly, the immunocompromised and individuals with other pre-existing health conditions are particularly at risk.

Highly communicable diseases spread exponentially — for example, if unchecked, an infected person may infect 3 people who might infect 9 people, who might infect 27 people. It does not take long for an entire population to be in contact with this virus.

Our healthcare resources in northern Nevada are excellent and we have incredible teams of doctors, nurses and other frontline healthcare heroes working every day to care for people and patients while supporting each other as we fight this pandemic.

We want to assure you that this statewide closure of non-essential businesses is very helpful as we look to manage exposures in a proactive manner. We are working to avoid over-burdening our healthcare systems and in order to stem or slow the kinds of situations we are seeing in other locations like Italy and Washington State.

Help us “flatten the curve” by limiting your contact with other people and practicing other effective measures like social distancing and hand hygiene. If we can work together to reduce the spread of the virus among individuals, we can decrease the risk of our most vulnerable populations.

Flattening the curve now helps preserve the precious resources of our healthcare providers and systems and helps protect our frontline physicians and caregivers, enabling them to care for those who most need our attention.

We thank the Governor for taking this action, and thank you for being healthcare heroes by staying home, working remotely, keeping your distance from others, and being extremely vigilant with handwashing.

Let’s continue to do everything we can to help our physicians and caregivers fight the good fight against COVID-19.

Anthony D. Slonim, MD, DrPH, is CEO of Renown Health; Joseph J. Grzymski, PhD, is Chief Science Officer at Renown Health; Paul R. Sierzenski, MD, MSHQS, is Chief Medical Officer for Renown Health and also a member of the Governor’s COVID 19 Taskforce; and Amy McCombs, MSN, RN, CNML, CIC is Director of Infection Prevention and Emergency Management at Renown Health.