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AAC PHO transcript: "I've never seen us work this fast"

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Anne Arundel County Public Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman spoke at the county's COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall the morning of SAturday April 4. Here is the transcript of his presentation.

"Good morning. It's good to be with you here today, as the county executive mentioned, for the fourth Saturday now.

I'm going to start off by talking about what I always talked about, which is the importance of each of us, each of us and our actions, and how they build up to help prevent the rapid spread of the Covid-19.

We talked about social distancing. It continues to be important, making sure that you're staying six feet from others, avoiding unnecessary travel out of the house or where you are staying, and making sure that you're using good infection control.

So making sure that you wash your hands frequently, particularly if you're out; wiping down, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces using hand sanitizer if you don't have access to hand washing; avoiding touching your face.

And to that, we're going to add another item which is masks.

I have my mask here. I wore it into the building today. I'm not wearing it now because I can't speak through it and talk to you through this microphone. Because it's a homemade mask. unlike the county executive. I have no sewing skills nor does anyone I know that has sewing skills.

So I did this in two minutes, and in about 10 minutes when the rest of our speakers are done, I will demonstrate to you how do you, how you can make your own mask.

Now, the question we often get is, why are things? Why is there so much confusion? Why are things changing? Why are people saying one thing than another?

I think in this moment, which is, which is unprecedented in so many ways, you out there are learning scientific knowledge at the same pace that we in public health, we are learning. That's challenging. Usually we have time to figure out what's going on, to understand the science, to understand the effects of the changes that we're recommending, but we don't have that time. And that's why what you see and what we sense too, is some of that confusion.

So the question, why is the CDC recommending those masks? Couple of reasons. One, we've seen that in countries where masks are being used more, much more by the public they're doing better. Admittedly, there are other reasons for why that may be the case, but as I mentioned, we don't necessarily have the time to be perfect on this.

The second is that we're learning that people who don't have symptoms, it looks like they can spread the virus just as much as those with symptoms. So that's the real reason that we're recommending mask usage when people go out in public.

By wearing the mask, even if you have it, (and) you don't know it--this cuts down on your ability to spread it. And at the same time, if you don't have it, it cuts down on your ability to get the virus.

It's not, it's not easy. It's going to be uncomfortable. It feels weird. It felt weird to get out of my car, put on a mask and walk into a building. But that's where we are. We're doing a lot of things that don't feel quite right.

One of the things that also we talked a lot about is testing. I'm happy to report that this week in Anne Arundel, we did over 175 tests for the public Monday through Friday at two different sites.

One is at the Glen Burnie vehicle emission inspection location, and the other was at the Anne Arundel County Department of Health on Harry Truman. And we're going to be continuing that, because it's really critical both for those who are who are sick, to be able to know what know what's going on with them. And also for us in public health to be able to understand how far this has spread, and what, which communities are getting testing in, and which aren't.

And that's one of the things that we're looking at really closely, is how do we make sure that everybody has access to testing--those without transportation, those with those who are historically under-served. That is a key part of what we are doing.

We also, I also also want to just take this moment to acknowledge the tremendous amount of work that's being done In the hospitals, but also throughout the healthcare community, I have frequent calls with primary care providers, behavioral health providers, the hospitals, nursing homes.

Everybody is ramping up in a way that I have never seen before. In the 20 years that I've been doing this, I've never seen us move this fast, this collaboratively, to cut through this much confusion, and, and frankly, bureaucracy to get things done.

And so I want to thank everybody out there in all of healthcare, who we, who are every day, not only figuring out how to shift the world under their feet, but are also taking that risk and who are going into the, stepping into the breach and working in situations where they know they're going to be exposed.

And on that note, I want to end by by thanking those of the health department. I know quite intimately how many hours everybody, everybody in that health department is putting in. We have created a whole new organization, one that didn't exist three weeks ago, where people are doing something that, something that they never thought they would do.

We're having our school health nurses providing infection control and contact tracing. We have our environmental health folks doing registration for drive through testing, and on and on. So I want to thank them publicly for the work that they're doing. So thank you."


"This is something you can do at home. It takes a Two minutes to do. I did it this morning. It may not be the prettiest, but I did it. It should just require things that you already have at home.

What I have here is a bandana it's about 20 inches by 20 inches. If you don't have a bandana, an old t shirt that you cut the size will be perfectly fine. All you need is either--I have those in my house so I have a lot of these hair ties lying around or rubber bands would be just as good. And then if you have a coffee filter, they'll throw in a pair of scissors to trim them down.

You take your coffee filter. Any size won't really do. All you're doing is just cutting it to open it up. The reason you're doing this just adds another layer of filtering. What we're really doing here is just creating a lot of layers. So that when you're breathing into those layers, it's filtering, filtering your breaths in and out and catching any viruses. if there is, either in you or from the year.

You put this in the center here, and then you fold this top part over here, this bottom part over this way or whatever one end. The other end. You hold these ends over, and then you'll have to adjust this to your ears.

But that's it. That's mask. And then you put it on. Two minutes. You can get nicer versions like the county executives, but this will do in a pinch."