Cleveland Clinic CEO stuns MSNBC’s Mika with warning for how long COVID-19 might ravage his state
Mika Brzezinski and Tomislav Mihaljevic (MSNBC)

The Cleveland Clinic began preparing for the coronavirus pandemic in January, but its CEO believes those efforts won't begin showing results for at least three months.

Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" his team started preparing for the worst once the virus spread from China, and they have been allocating their resources to face their worst-case scenario.

"Here in Ohio, we have started very, very early," Mihaljevic said. "Our governor has been very proactive, the measures of the social distancing were implemented early. What I can share with you, at least over the last four or five days, as you know, as you can imagine, we measure the number of patients who are infected and track it on a daily basis. We are seeing some encouraging signs, meaning that the number of patients who are infected here in Ohio seems to be relatively stable or it is growing at a relatively slow pace."

At least another week's worth of data would be needed to determine whether Ohio has flattened the curve, but the physician warned that the federal government's 30-day timeline for slowing the spread was overly optimistic -- even if everything goes as hoped.

"It really depends about how effective our measures of social distancing are going to be," Mihaljevic said. "That will be, on one side, dependent upon when are they implemented, and the big unknown is how far was virus spreading before social distancing was put in place? So the timeline is really challenging."

"Our modeling predictions are telling us that if we are able to flatten the curve, to some extent, we are expecting the peak of this disease, at least here in our home state of Ohio, to occur sometime between mid-May and mid-June, with a gradual decline in the number of cases towards mid- to late July. This is the best-case scenario."