• Guidelines for Reopening a Nation in a SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: A Path Forward

      Baker, Terrance L; Greiner, Jack V (MDPI AG, 2021-05-14)
      Background and Objectives: Action, not fear, is the path forward in the coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Since early 2020, the world's nations have faced conundrums over severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections resulting in COVID-19 resulting in national closures, and thus, a clear understandable plan that nations can implement is required to reopen. The healthcare benefits of reopening a nation more likely than not exceed the benefits of continued pandemic-related closure. Pandemic-related closures have resulted in countless delayed or avoided urgent care evaluations. Furthermore, routine care of acute and chronic illnesses, including evaluations, diagnoses, and treatments, has also been delayed. Isolation, loss of income, and fear have resulted in mental health conditions or exacerbated existing conditions. The magnitude of untoward ramifications is unknown and may ultimately represent an inestimable degree of danger and morbidity, and even death. The pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 has created an atmosphere of fear of COVID-19 that has directly and indirectly injured the world's population. Since this has resulted in increasing morbidity and mortality, creating economic chaos, and near systemic collapse of educational systems with no well described plan forward, it is the purpose of this study to provide guidelines that provide a path forward to safely open a nation. Physicians often equipped by their education, training, and experiences across disciplines are uniquely positioned to comprehend, coordinate, and teach other physicians, business owners, and municipal and government leaders from guidelines. As such, physicians may take the lead in a path forward to reopening a nation, including opening businesses, educational facilities, and religious establishments, while minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Materials and Methods: Reviews of the literature among the disciplines of environmental air, sanitation, social interaction, medical testing, vaccination, protection, and disease prevention and safety allowed for the conceptualization and eventual genesis of identifiable interventions which either reduce the viral load in the environment or inactivate the virus from replication. Each of the guidelines was selected based on the principle that it involved the elimination or inactivation of the viral particle. With a reduction in viral load or inactivation of replication, the implementation of these guidelines is expected to allow for reopening a nation with an increased level of safety. Results: The guidelines identified, including air exchange (ventilation), air filtration, personal protective filtering devices (masks), hand hygiene, social distancing, screening and testing, vaccines, high-risk patient protection, medical management, and adjunctive therapies, are described and referenced. Conclusions: In that the pandemic is primarily a public health issue, the path forward is best coordinated by local, regional, and national physicians. Many physicians with a breadth of experiences are uniquely positioned to coordinate the implementation of these interdisciplinary guidelines. Using these guidelines as a planned, coordinated action, not fear, is a path forward. Nations have a decision to make: closuring versus opening.