Dogwood Health Trust has committed to spending $10 million to fight COVID-19 in Western North Carolina.
In a Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon, Dogwood Health Trust CEO Antony Chiang explained that the foundation, which was created after the $1.5 billion dollar sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare, is working with local partners across the region to address the COVID-19 epidemic.
Chiang says that the foundation is focusing on three areas: flattening the curve, preparing the region and mitigating negative impacts from the virus.
Right now, Chiang says Western North Carolina is in a good position to learn from other regions where the virus has already spread such as Raleigh. One of the biggest issues with policy being made right now, says Chiang, is the data lag between the transmission of the coronavirus and the announcement of a positive case.
“So you are sitting here today and there might not be any cases in your county. But that means there are no positively identified cases, " says Chiang. "That means they are probably walking around right now transmitting. But there is this 14 to 17 day data lag." He estimates there are 10x more cases in a community than what is identified at any point.
Chiang cautions local leaders to make decisions not on the current number of cases but on the number of cases that there will be in the future.
When it came to specific projects that the trust will be funding, Chiang says that Dogwood’s regional partners will be the ones to announce the details.
On the call, Chiang mentioned funding local companies to increase production of face shields and hand sanitizer, ordering more COVID-19 tests for the region and working with partners to create places to quarantine patients as just a few of the projects the foundation is working on. The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina has already announced Dogwood is a part of its collaborative Emergency and Disaster Response Fund.
“There’s one thing Dogwood wants everyone to know: It’s not how much money we are putting out there, what we are putting it in or who we are partnering with,” says Chiang. “It’s, please, do what you can to slow the transmission. Stay home. Do it for our first responders, our doctors and nurses. Do it for our seniors.”