Dr. Emily Landon on coronavirus: ‘I don’t understand why the cries from the front line are not being heard’

IOP event with David Axelrod examines COVID-19, equipment shortages and scenes at hospitals

Editor’s note: To read more about how UChicago is on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Confronting COVID-19 website.

Assoc. Prof. Emily Landon, the University of Chicago doctor who made national headlines with her public plea for social distancing, believes the nation needs a more robust response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I don’t understand why the cries from the front line are not being heard in a way that has resulted in mobilizing America like America can mobilize,” she said during a recent online conversation with David Axelrod of UChicago’s Institute of Politics.

“You need really robust public health to be able to do the on-the-ground work of containing those cases and making sure that we’re testing people a lot so that you don’t get this silent curve happening that you can’t see—like what happened to us in February and January and March,” Landon, an infectious disease expert and the executive medical director for Infection Prevention and Control at UChicago Medicine.

In a chat that included questions from UChicago students, Landon also discussed the disproportionate toll of the virus on low-income workers and communities of color, how long Americans may need to stay at home, whether it’s safe to get restaurant takeout food and the shortage of safety equipment.

Landon also described the effects that social distancing has had in Illinois, including what she’s seeing at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

“Even having a week or five days at 80 patients gives us time to get more ventilators, to get more masks in, to be able to open up McCormick Place so that we can move patients there so that they can have a safe place to go so that we have more beds in the hospital,” said Landon. “All of these little one-day-here, one-day-there that we can spread things out, matters a lot.”

A full transcript is available here.