Safe or Unsafe versus Essential or Non-essential:
These are two paradigms that could be used to limit personal interaction and to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, the governments: state, nation, cities, and counties picked the wrong paradigm (essential or non-essential) and caused much unnecessary economic and personal financial damage within this country and even across the world. Additionally, the first order that when out should have included a call out to all professional groups, businesses and unions, and requested that they each convene a study group to develop guidelines to be used by their profession to insure the safe delivery of products and services in the COVID-19 environment. Since this wasn’t done at the outset, it should be implemented NOW!! These organizations should now convene these groups and deliver the guidelines to governments at all levels and demand that any business which implements these guidelines be allowed to open immediately.
Trump dunces it up:
Trump asked, not suggested nor recommended, that blood could be disinfected with light or a disinfectant. The media personalities, most of which never met a science course that they couldn’t fail, both to pass or to understand minimally, all just laughed their asses off. Turns out that while Trump didn’t have a good handle on articulating it well, and really we’ve already talked about his poor articulation not being an indicator of his ability to understand. Anyway it turns out that using light to purify the blood was once a procedure for various diseases (link the SCIENTIFIC report here, as opposed to the unscientific commentaries at various networks). Furthermore we know that cleansing the blood is used daily and worldwide in dialysis treatment for people with renal failure. This does not use disinfectants, but rather filtering, but it does clean the blood. Trump never suggested that people should drink disinfectant or shoot it up, but rather asked if there were a way to disinfect blood. Indeed, using light as a disinfectant was once a medical technique, although in my opinion there were good reasons to discontinue it. In any case, Trump says what he is thinking and even when he dunces in up, he has yet to call his sister his wife or engage in an equivalent mental tangle as Biden does daily.
The Alien Invasion:
When I look at what COVID-19 and what our reaction to it has done to our society I have difficulty finding a comparison. Our ancestors faced the plague every several decades, it sometimes wiping out 25% of the population or more in whole regions of Europe. They didn’t have science then, but learned from experience to survive it, like Isaac Newton who moved to his sister’s farm in the country during a plague in London. Others, who didn’t have such options, survived because their bodies developed antigens that protected them. Others, many, died.
Oddly, to me the event in human history most like our current situation, was the invasion of the Western Hemisphere by aliens, Europeans, who may as well have been, creatures from another planet as far as the Native Americans were concerned. The American cultures were decimated before the natives could come to terms with the new paradigm.
We seem to be on the same course in our fight against COVID-19, which may as well be the first round in an assault from an extraterrestrial species. We’re seeing our societal structure crumble, both in the mostly capitalist USA and in the mostly socialist Europe. By the well, how is that socialized medicine working for you: Italy, Spain, France, well just about anywhere but Germany? When you take the above nations and throw in Great Britain the population is almost exactly equal to the USA, and as a whole they have MORE infections than we do, and as a whole they have a much greater death rate. Only Germany when excised from the EU does better.
Everyone, at least in the Western World, appears to have been taken completely off guard by this invasion. If anything, Trump acted faster and more correctly than the EU as a whole did. China, according to their record, is neck to neck with us on limiting deaths per infection, but we have to wonder if they are reporting everything. They certainly did NOT act like a responsible world power and warn other nations when they first knew they had a problem; they hid it like a child would hide a broken cup, and WHO was right in there with them enabling their deception. While no one is saying that they designed the virus and released it, there is some suspicion that they were “studying” the virus in their Wuhan Biolab, and that because of their poor safety practices, which were noted by an international team of inspectors who visited the lab before the outbreak, a technician managed to contaminate herself, then her boyfriend, then the wet market, then China, then the world. It was an accident with a naturally occurring, but deadly virus-so it will be said.
I wonder. Do you think the Chinese leaders are a bunch of stupid people? Why create a virus, when you can find a natural one that will do the same thing? Why overtly release a deadly agent on the world, when you can inaptly blunder it on the world? I’m not saying they did it on purpose, but I’m saying it’s a theory that should not be dismiss without a lot of scrutiny.
But that is water under the bridge, and the alien invader is here and we have to deal with it.
We have our own mistakes and misjudgments to deal with, and I’m going to lay them at the feet of the CDC, whether it is fair or not. It was their job to have us prepared for this. Early on, resting comfortably on previous successes against Ebola and various pathogens that came up from south of the border with illegal immigrants, they thought we were prepared to contain this virus as we had those others. A fair assumption when you focus your thinking on past experiences, and on normal responses to events within two standard deviations of the statistical mean. Indeed, our medical system was robust enough to deal with those situations, and the CDC processes probably were adequate to coral that kind of epidemic. The problem was that no one prepared for events that were outside two, even three, standard deviations of typical contagion situations. No one had a plan for an extraordinary contagion event. And that is true of the EU and us. The CDC and Dr. Fauci were not alone.
I have some ideas that seem pretty reasonable to me even though epidemiology is not my area of study-but I have a lot of experience with decision analysis, that is making good decisions about things that are not fully known- so why is it that the CDC seems to have been caught flatfooted? It seems their job was to be ready for the unexpected.
One simple idea is that we should have had an epidemiological SWAT team that is dispatched to any epicenter of any contagion outbreak in the world. The team could be ours alone, or from a consortium of nations, but it should be a team that operates from the principle that when we say, “May we come into your country and inspect the site of the outbreak? That is not a request, we’ll be there tomorrow.”
Another idea, which as far as I know hasn’t happen, although I hope it has: As soon as the shelter in place order was given, every professional organization (e.g. Association of Restaurants) and union organization (e.g. Pipe fitters union) should have convened a task force whose assignment was to develop safe practices guidelines for business to be conducted by their group. When completed these guidelines should be send to the federal, state, and local governments along with the request that their members be allowed to return to work using those guidelines. If they haven’t done it, then they should begin now.
China refused Trump’s offer to send in experts. That should have been a warning that they were covering something up. Indeed, that may be why Trump cut off travel to/from China. However, the Democrats could only scream and call Trump a xenophobe. These people are obsessive children and really have nothing constructive to offer Americans.
Dr. Fauci, and I may blame him unfairly, but he seems to be the point man on epidemiology within our government, made other mistakes. He relied on WHO to correctly characterize the outbreak, and WHO helped the Chinese hide it. He, or the CDC, relied on a centralized testing system that was slow and antiquated. They were like the French sitting behind their Maginot Line, blissfully awaiting the arrival of the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Again, they are not alone, but that is little comfort.
Finally, in Italy, where government officials urged people to mingle with Chinese tourists and workers, the virus went ballistic in a matter of days. The alien invasion was upon Europe, and we had maybe one week or two to prepare for the attack on us.
Dr. Fauci looked into his toolbox: WHO had failed him, the testing system was like a mule drawn cannon, and the contagion had broken through all the barriers of containment. He had no vaccine, and one isn’t coming for probably six months (I know 18 months is projected, but I don’t think we’ll have the luxury of a fully tested vaccine). He didn’t have any therapies. The critically ill had plugged the hospitals in Italy and were beginning to do so in NYC. The only tool in his box was, like for the French after the Nazi invasion, going underground, i.e. issuing a general shutdown of the economy-a shelter in place order.
We can’t blame Dr. Fauci nor the CDC for all that went bad, and we can’t credit Trump for singly rallying American industry to the rescue. We can blame the Democrat Party for continuing their petty political sabotage and disruptions when they should have been helping solve the problem. And we can blame the media for serving as the mouthpiece for the Democratic propaganda.
Trump made many good and strategic decisions so far, but probably the best one was calling on American science, technology, and industry for full out support of our effort against the invading contagion. We’ve gone from hundreds of tests a day, with a many day wait period, to 100,000 tests a day with a wait period of hours. We’ve gone from no vaccine to probably a dozen that are being tested. We’ve got from a dearth of ventilators to a surplus, and now we have dozens of potential therapies being tested.
That is all good, but here we are now- no existing cures nor vaccines.
But the shelter in place is working-right??
Yes, but most people misunderstand what the shelter in place order was supposed to do, which is: It was intended to limit the flood of critically ill people that was overloading our hospitals, as it had in Italy. This saves lives because the hospitals will not have an overflow of critical patients, and will not have to just let some of them die, as they did in Italy. It stops the exponentially increasing numbers of infections, but the virus will still be out there, and the forest of humanity is still full of dry wood to infect.
When I look at the John Hopkins website, I see that the number of cases worldwide is no longer growing exponentially, but rather is GROWING linearly, i.e. the curve has flattened worldwide and in the USA. I see on the news and I read in the papers that even NYC hospitals are able to handle their critical care patients, and the rest of the USA is not as bad off as NYC. We have done what the shelter in place order was supposed to do. The virus is still out there and probably more than 95% of our people do NOT have antibodies for this thing. On the positive side the number of people who have had the disease may be between 50 to 80 times greater than previously thought. This means that most people get it and don’t even know they had it. So, are we going to shelter in place until there is a vaccine, and it is distributed to 320,000,000 people in the USA and 7 billion worldwide?
That won’t work.
We are already having supply chain problems from the relatively short period that we have been locked down, and someone needs to figure out why because the grocery stores still sell stuff, the farmers still produce stuff, so why are shelves empty of stuff? If we’re going to fight a war against aliens, even microscopic ones, then the supply chain is a key part of the defense, just like testing, ventilator’s, and hospital beds-it needs to be there. Right now, I’m not sure this could go on for 6 to 9 months, let alone 18. We need to limit deaths, but we need to save civilization. Regardless of your politics I doubt you want anarchy and rule by warlords. So, we need to get back to holding the fabric of society together. That means producing and distributing goods and services, which means people have to get back to work, which will cause more outbreaks given that 95% of the population is still vulnerable.
So how do we avoid becoming Italy or NYC Number Two?
Well look at 21,550 Italian COVID19 deaths by age group:
0-29 years old – 9 people died
30-39 “ “ – 45 people
40-49 “ “ – 184 people
50-59 “ “ – 799 people
60-69 “ “ – 2418 people
70 + years old – 18,095 people
While I don’t have the breakdown here, you can imagine, if you have even the slightest idea about demographics, that the bulk of population is in the age groups 59 years and younger, yet this great majority of people is hardly affected by the virus. Hence, we probably did the shelter in place all wrong. Maybe we should have only had people 60 years and older to shelter in place. Maybe we should have provided services to them so they didn’t have to come out of their abodes. Maybe the rest of society should have kept on working, because they weren’t going to flood the hospitals.
We didn’t do it that way, but now we know that the bulk of society can get back to work without fear of dying- and they should go back to work. They may even get the virus, never knowing that they did, which, oddly, is a good thing.
Why? Because the more people who have had the virus and have built antibodies, the fewer victims it has to attack. When enough people have had the virus, the virus cannot “find” a victim and it dies without infecting anyone. No one gets sick any more, and at some point, even the elderly can rejoin social activities without fear.
At that point we would have herd immunity. It seems likely that can happen a lot faster than the development of a fully vetted vaccine. It is the way Sweden is handling the virus, and they are doing better than many other EU countries. And if it doesn’t get us all the way to herd immunity, at least we will be much closer to it than if we had sheltered indefinitely in place. Plus, now our medical system is prepared and hopefully can quickly track and trance and quarantine to prevent another exponentially expanding outbreak.
So we open up for most of society. People will still get sick, very few deadly so. The vulnerable will still have to be sheltered to keep the hospitals from jamming up. The Democrats will laser focus on every death and blame Trump for opening too early. The media will stupidly support their arguments, but you will remember that this is what the game plan had bee from day one- that is flatten the curve so that the hospitals would not be overwhelmed, then to begin to more systematically manage the virus so that it does not take off exponentially again.
Yes, it’s a risk. Some people will die, but fewer than if we had not slowed the virus down by sheltering when we did. But now it’s time to come out of the shelters and save our country. What do you think was going on when those GIs loaded onto the amphibious landing crafts and headed toward the Normandy beaches? Yeah, now is one of those cataclysmic moments in human history. Our ancestors faced these often. Now it is our turn.