KIMT speaks to infectious disease expert about Coronavirus (with full interview)

"The truth is that this is going to be a very significant event, one that none of us have seen really since 1918. However, just as we got through it in 1918, we'll get through this one too. In the meantime, there surely will be some real challenges," says Osterholm.

Posted: Mar 16, 2020 8:19 PM
Updated: Mar 17, 2020 6:51 AM

KIMT NEWS 3 - KIMT News 3 spoke on the phone Monday afternoon with Michael Osterholm, Director of Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota about Covid-19.

Osterholm says researchers are right on track with predictions, but the next several months are uncharted territory.

"Now we're in a place where in terms of how it will play out in these communities is unclear and we can only hope that we don't have the kind of case numbers that have been projected, but then again we realize hope is not a strategy and at this point we can only anticipate what might be coming," he says.

Closings around southern Minnesota, northern Iowa | For complete Coronavirus coverage, click here | Iowa Department of Health info | Minnesota Department of Health info

He tells KIMT it's hard to tell when the virus will run its course, but it could be at least 6 months. He believes the U.S. could even see some residual cases in the fall. He tells KIMT the country will likely see rolling cases of the virus, where for periods of time the virus will be very active in some areas with very few cases in others. In about 2 months, low-activity areas could see a big spike.

"The truth is that this is going to be a very significant event, one that none of us have seen really since 1918. However, just as we got through it in 1918, we'll get through this one too. In the meantime, there surely will be some real challenges," says Osterholm.

Social distancing is key to slowing the spread of the virus. Osterholm tells KIMT that handwashing and keeping 6+ feet of distance from someone will have minimal effects in reducing disease transmission. An infected person dispels tiny particles into the air containing the virus, meaning that just being in the same area as someone who has the virus can be risky.

"In fact just breathing, talking will also create these aerosols and I think the bottom line is this is a very, very dynamically transmitted disease. Look at how many countries are involved already, how extensive transmission occurs. And I think we just have to realize that when you're in close contact with people, even not just 2-6 feet away, that this can be a real challenge," he explains.

When asked about what kind of impact closing Minnesota schools for 10+ days will have on virus spread, Osterholm concedes the impact will be minimal.

"It's a good opportunity to look at what might happen long term in terms of future school closings. We know with influenza, if you close schools for 1-2 weeks, there's a slight decrease temporarily in he number of flu cases in kids but it bounces right back up and in the end of the season, the numbers are very same between the different time periods between when you were in school and when you weren't," he says. He also has concerns about how school closings will affect healthcare workers, as 20% of healthcare workers will have no choice but to stay home from work to be with their children.

Osterholm tells KIMT some of the best models U.S. researchers have show that between 160 and 214 million people could be infected over the next 6-8 months.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20573

Reported Deaths: 878
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin6918534
Ramsey231697
Stearns192312
Nobles14572
Anoka116455
Dakota105935
Olmsted55110
Washington50626
Kandiyohi4541
Clay36623
Rice3652
Scott3462
Wright2401
Sherburne2081
Todd1970
Benton1662
Carver1612
Mower1501
Steele1400
Martin1245
Blue Earth1121
St. Louis11113
Pine850
Freeborn840
Winona7715
Carlton730
Nicollet683
Cottonwood620
Polk582
Otter Tail550
Itasca527
Goodhue522
Watonwan500
Chisago481
Dodge430
Meeker420
Crow Wing421
Le Sueur411
Chippewa400
Jackson390
Morrison380
Murray350
Becker320
Lyon310
Douglas290
McLeod260
Isanti250
Waseca240
Rock210
Unassigned199
Fillmore171
Mille Lacs161
Wabasha160
Swift150
Sibley120
Beltrami120
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Cass113
Faribault110
Brown112
Pipestone100
Marshall80
Pennington70
Pope70
Aitkin60
Wadena60
Yellow Medicine50
Koochiching50
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Lac qui Parle30
Red Lake30
Big Stone30
Redwood30
Traverse30
Grant20
Houston20
Clearwater20
Hubbard10
Kittson10
Lake10
Roseau10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17227

Reported Deaths: 456
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3714108
Woodbury255524
Black Hawk167639
Linn92775
Marshall86611
Dallas84914
Johnson5987
Muscatine54339
Wapello5004
Crawford4772
Tama39023
Louisa3347
Scott3319
Dubuque31916
Jasper25616
Buena Vista2310
Pottawattamie2106
Sioux1990
Washington1798
Allamakee1184
Wright1170
Plymouth1080
Warren1060
Story941
Poweshiek888
Bremer676
Henry611
Clinton601
Boone540
Des Moines531
Mahaska526
Cedar451
Guthrie433
Taylor370
Benton371
Jones360
Monroe334
Iowa320
Clarke320
Osceola320
Shelby310
Buchanan310
Clayton303
Marion290
Webster271
Fayette260
Hamilton260
Madison241
Monona230
Cerro Gordo221
Lee220
Winneshiek210
Davis200
Lyon190
Grundy190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Jefferson150
Cherokee150
Butler150
Mills140
Delaware140
Humboldt130
Sac130
Greene130
Keokuk130
Hardin130
Howard120
Hancock120
Appanoose123
Audubon111
Jackson110
Cass110
Ida100
Page100
Clay100
Winnebago100
Carroll90
Van Buren80
Franklin80
Dickinson80
Adair80
Chickasaw80
Kossuth70
Emmet70
Lucas60
Montgomery60
Union60
Adams50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Pocahontas40
Mitchell40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Unassigned30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur00
Rochester
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