We all need to be doing more to flatten the curve by slowing the spread of the virus.

Co-authored by Bill Dymond, president and CEO of Lowndes and Partnership Board Chair, and Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth Central Florida and Partnership Board Chair-elect

If you are shocked by the speed at which everyday life is changing because of COVID-19, you are not alone. The reality that this illness will continue to spread across the U.S., and here in our own community, should be taken very seriously. It may seem extreme to cancel vacations, work from home and buy extra supplies and food, but the truth is, those are very logical, smart and proactive measures that will slow the spread of this fast-moving disease. To be honest, so far not enough has been done. We all need to be doing more to flatten the curve by slowing the spread of the virus, so our healthcare system isn’t overrun by thousands of new cases all at once.  

The business and non-profit community is already springing into action by taking the lead.  Major companies and associations canceled global conventions taking place in Orlando and other cities, the National Basketball League, Major League Baseball and other major sports organizations put their seasons on hold, and theme parks closed their world-famous attractions at least until the end of the month. We at the Orlando Economic Partnership are deploying plans to keep employees at home while postponing events. Meanwhile, as more businesses and non-profits inform us of the impact to their organizations, we are working with congressional leaders now and going forward to better advocate for our community.  

Businesses, large and small, can greatly influence the community’s awareness and readiness against the spread of the coronavirus. 

We encourage you to begin immediately taking steps now to ensure your organization is prepared, including creating risk management teams and contingency plans. Adopting a prepared mindset with a focus on the health of your employees and your business is your best defense. Tools and information are available to do just that. For example, McKinsey & Company’s “Seven Sets of Immediate Action” outlines practical measures for preparedness. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity opened the Business Damage Assessment Survey which provides company’s eligibility to request Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The Partnership has activated an online resource center on our Orlando.org/COVID19 website. I encourage you to utilize the toolkit.  

Our local healthcare professionals, who will soon be on the frontlines of this crisis, is diligently working with speed and efficiency to mitigate the potential for broad and lingering impact. We are lucky to have a robust healthcare ecosystem in Orlando with some of the best systems in the nation. AdventHealth, Orlando Health, Nemours Children’s Hospital, the Orlando VA Medical Center and HCA Healthcare have already undertaken extraordinary efforts in preparation of the care of patients.   

We should heed the medical community’s advice and warnings. This means limiting social contact, practicing healthy hygiene, paying attention to credible sources like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, local online health hubs of information, and the Coronavirus Information Line (1-866-779-6121). Soon this will include getting tested for the virus, self-quarantine, and informing local healthcare facilities, including emergency rooms, of your suspected symptoms by calling 1-877-847-8747 before going to the hospital.    

Orlando is a community that has faced serious challenges in the past. 

We have strong public and private partners partners who collaborate and help pull the community forward. We’ve proven we can face adversity and crisis. Let’s not lose sight of that and instead draw strength from our past challenges. We know how to prepare. We know how to overcome. By working together and staying focused on what matters most – our personal and community health – we can thwart the surge of COVID-19 cases in our community and avoid the devastating consequences that come with loss of life and livelihood.   

And finally, a word to our leaders from the historian John M. Barry, who studied The Great Influenza and said “The final lesson of 1918, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that…those in authority must retain the public’s trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one.”