This winter, we might be facing both a difficult flu season and another surge of COVID-19. How can manufacturers help prevent operation disruptions while also protecting workers and all Americans from illness, hospitalization or worse? Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, gave a comprehensive answer at an NAM gathering of manufacturing leaders last week.
The situation today: Though both COVID-19 infections and deaths are down, Jha noted that if we keep steady at today’s numbers, we’ll be seeing 100,000 to 150,000 deaths per year—three to five times worse than the average flu season. However, “almost every one of those deaths is preventable,” he emphasized.
What to expect: The near future is rather worrying, according to Jha. The combination of COVID-19 and flu stands to hit us hard this winter.
What to do: As alarming as the situation might be, Jha says there is “good news” as well. “We can actually control and prevent a large chunk of what might be coming down the path,” he said, as long as we focus on three key measures: vaccines, treatment and air quality.
- We can improve indoor air quality by upgrading filters, improving air exchanges with the outdoors or using air purifiers, he advised.
- “The virus will continue evolving, and that means we need a long-term strategy for building people’s immunity,” said Jha, doubling down on the importance of improving indoor air quality.
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