MSU expert on pandemics breaks down Covid-19 outbreak

Coronavirus

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– There are many questions and unknowns when it comes to the Coronavirus, so 6 News spoke to an expert from Michigan State University to get some answers.

Eva Kassens-Noor is an Associate Professor in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at Michigan State University. One of the things she studied was the Spanish flu of 1918, which is considered one of the worst pandemics in modern history. It killed 50 million people according to the CDC.

“In terms of the danger of infection, in terms of how fast it spreads, how it spreads, I think it’s comparable. I think we’re in a much better position in terms of mortality because we have hospitals, we have better infrastructure, so I think we’re better positioned as a society and as a nation to respond to this pandemic,” Kassens-Noor said.

Even though the U.S. has a strong medical field she said it’s going to come down to what the healthcare system can handle.

“What’s our capacity? What’s our hospital capacity? How fast can we produce what’s needed being face masks, being ventilators? How much capacity can we mobilize to help those in need?” Kassens-Noor questioned.

That’s why she adds the Governor’s orders are so important.

“What she does is very, very good. She started to put in orders that basically protect everyone. At the same time, she also has to make sure that all people have access to health, all people have access to food… so flattening the curve was the right thing to do.”

The problem now she said is the compliance aspect.

“I remember when Michigan State closed its doors and said all classes are moved online, students please go home, the next things we’ve observed that students were actually flocking to bars in East Lansing,” Kassens-Noor said.

So why isn’t everyone taking this seriously?

“If you’re not in a high-risk group– why do you think you would stay at home? I think higher risk groups are the seniors, they are the elderly and unfortunately, some younger ones aren’t willing to make the sacrifice that’s at this point needed which means complete social distancing,” Kassens-Noor said.

In fact, medical experts say those younger generations could be spreading the virus without knowing, as symptoms often go undetected.

“If you would see symptoms within two or three days you could track it faster. Now it takes one week, maybe two. There were even cases where it took three weeks where you start spreading very early and so you can’t say ‘oh if I’m feeling sick I’m staying home’.

In terms of how long the pandemic will last, it’s impossible to know for sure, but Kassens-Noor believes it will last beyond Mid-April.

“I would expect it to go to mid-May. It might last throughout the summer, but what the unknown factor that we don’t know as well the virus will go away with the summer. What I’m most concerned about is potentially a second wave because you see a virus usually mutate as it moves through the population and we don’t want to see it. So the easiest way to prevent it is really eradicate the virus now,” Kassens-Noor said.

To do that, she said everyone needs to take the orders seriously and social distance completely. The sooner everyone complies, the sooner she believes the pandemic will end.

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