How COVID-19 is affecting one small-town doctor
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Update: On Thursday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that all public, private and charter K-12 schools will close until at least April 3.
Dr. Scott Anzalone is the only independent family physician in Hocking County, Ohio. But being a physician and running a medical office is not his only gig. In addition to providing a range of services to around 3,500 patients, he also teaches in the Heritage College of Medicine at Ohio University and is president of the local school board.
“I’m just trying to put out a lot of fires,” Anzalone told “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal. “Many of my patients are coming in with just a lot of questions. So we’re trying to put out the facts and prevent the hysteria.”
We first talked to Anzalone as part of our series “United States of Work,” which reimagines the 164 million people in the U.S. labor force as 10 individuals. With the fallout from coronavirus sending shockwaves through markets and disrupting life for people across the country, we called him up to find out what life looks like for him right now.
There are five cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ohio, but none in Hocking County so far.
“Locally, people are still in the mind set of [getting] prepared,” he said. “Our our shelves are empty. Toilet paper is gone and hand sanitizer. Those things are being taken off the shelves pretty rapidly.”
In his medical office, the most notable impact Anzalone has experienced so far is a shortage of supplies.
“I just got online with my medical supplier, and masks are back ordered,” he said. “We just went to get an order for gloves, and the size we need are gone. And I just got on Amazon, and the prices are just going through the roof if the things are even available.”
Meanwhile, in his position as president of the local school board, he’s had to have emergency meetings and start planning for a possible school closure.
“We have not closed the schools yet, but what we’re working on currently is having teachers put together packets of curriculum that can be sent home with our kids,” he said. “Unfortunately, most of our kids do not have internet access at home … so we couldn’t just move everything online.”
But Anzalone’s biggest single worry isn’t the virus. It’s the economy.
“You know, day to day, here in my office and from a medical standpoint, we were doing the same thing we always do,” he said. “But I look at the economy, I look at, you know, the loss of work, I look at the stock market, and the impact that that’s going to make I think is worse than the actual illness, what it’s going to cause.”
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