Have We really Thought This Through?

What are we hearing? Hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed, resulting in needless deaths. We are going to spend trillions of dollars to offset a near shutdown of our country. Who are the ones needing acute care threatening to swamp our medical facilities? As we pointed out in our last post, the vast majority are the elderly and those already compromised. This at-risk population is the one contributing by far the most to the death tolls. Common sense cried out; these were the ones to protect and segregate from the carriers. After all, this has been true in every epidemic experienced. Identifying those infected and putting distance between them and the most endangered is the first thing to do. In response to past epidemic experience, countries such as Singapore and South Korea moved immediately to widespread testing. They enlisted all public and private resources to make testing kits available as widely as possible. Blocking travel with infected areas was a given. President Trump acted with reasonable speed in shutting down travel with China buying precious time. The time that should’ve been used to test widely and protect and segregate the vulnerable. Instead of following countries such as South Korea and getting widespread help in producing and using test kits, our CDC and FDA refused help in favor of their own paltry number of test kits. Then theirs proved faulty. We slipped behind the testing curve. The CDC has offices all over the world, so they were well aware of what others were doing and experiencing. They just elected to go their own way and do inadequate testing.

It’s a good idea when faced with an attack to take stock of your arsenal to see what works. With this Coronavirus attack, we have to look to what has worked on virus-immune assaults in the past. There seems to be quite a list of possibilities. For instance, a 70 yr old malaria drug, Chloroquine, seems to show some promise. Sadly it was the French initially tested it, not the US. Again the CDC and FDA were slow off the mark.

Still, one would expect we would have robust procedures to alert and segregate the compromised and those close to them. They are the ones filling the ICUs. They are the ones most in danger of dying. Even today, we haven’t taken many of the most straightforward targeted measures to protect the most vulnerable. For instance, Honeywell and 3M are increasing the production of n95 masks by 1 1/2 million a day. Wouldn’t it make sense to make some of these available to 1-2 % most at risk? These could be used whenever they have to interact with others. Older people and others at high risk still need to eat and procure necessities. One would think they could get delivery and avoid contact, but this is spotty at best. Fresh produce, an immune enhancer, for delivery service has been overwhelmed by demand. Even “pick up and go” when available have extended lead times. A week seems a minor miracle. Many grocery stores have tried to accommodate seniors with special early shopping hours. Now we have a mass gathering of the vulnerable. Just one infected person could wreak havoc. How could this happen? An 86 year old acquaintance went to Costco for needed hearing aids and also went shopping at the local grocery. Maybe masks might’ve prevented a potential virus hot spot. Governor Cuomo of New York fears health care in his state will be swamped by a flood of the sick One of the best ways to prevent a flood is to build a dam in the narrows upriver. Once you have a torrent, you have a vastly more extensive problem. Our leaders have been thinking Macro when micro might’ve have given better results.

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