CDC

Here’s Why We Don’t Do Widespread Testing


Reading time – 3:50; Viewing time – 5:28  .  .  .

We continue to bumble along, seemingly unable to develop a reliable test to use in large quantities throughout the country to fight this awful disease. It isn’t because we don’t have access to the needed resources. Here and here are reports on testing options that have been available for months.

In contrast to our stumbling, Germany has the lowest death rate from coronavirus anywhere and it’s hard to understand why we don’t use what has been proven to be the best available testing technology and practices.  Here’s an excerpt from a report by The New York Times on how Germany is achieving relative success:

In mid-January, long before most Germans had given the virus much thought, Charité hospital in Berlin had already developed a test and posted the formula online.

By the time Germany recorded its first case of Covid-19 in February, laboratories across the country had built up a stock of test kits.

“The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said Dr. Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Charité, whose team developed the first test.

By now, Germany is conducting around 350,000 coronavirus tests a week, far more than any other European country. Early and widespread testing has allowed the authorities to slow the spread of the pandemic by isolating known cases while they are infectious. It has also enabled lifesaving treatment to be administered in a more timely way.

To test in the U.S. at a rate comparable to that of Germany we would have to do a minimum of 1.4 million tests every week, but we don’t have a sufficient supply of test kits even for as little as 10 days; then we’re out of kits. Further, the reliability of our tests has been suspect, although claims are being made that some are now reliable. Nevertheless, our ineptitude exists and continues in spite of three facts:

  1. The World Health Organization had test kits available for our use months ago, but for unexplained reasons, our government refused to use them and relied instead on a CDC test that proved to be faulty.
  2. The formula for the reliable test that Germany is using was posted online in January and was available for everyone to use, as were other kits, but we refused those, too.
  3. President Nero invoked the Defense Protection Act and could have forced many manufacturers and labs to ramp up to produce as many  millions of tests as we need. BUT HE HASN’T DONE THAT.

On May 5 Trump made things worse by having Vice President Pence announce that he is disbanding the coronavirus task force by the end of the month. He essentially said that he is giving up without firing a shot. We would be left to suffer and many to die due to a complete lack of coherent leadership.

One day later, and in typical Trump flip-flopping fashion, he reversed that. He had been stung by the very negative public response to his disbanding decision, so he announced that now the task force will continue. But we’re left exactly the same as before, wondering if Trump and his team of incompetents will ever actually do something to help the people. Here’s why they haven’t and why they won’t.

If Trump were to take clear, decisive action, like organizing massive, national testing, he would be putting a stake in the ground, making himself accountable for results. If the results don’t turn out to be good – and it’s obvious that outcomes from this coronavirus are dreadful and will only become worse – Trump’s culpability would be on display for all to see. But Trump never accepts responsibility for anything unless he can claim victory, so once again he’s set things up for him to skate,

and he’s doing nothing.

 

Click me for the story

You can depend upon Trump to continue to do nothing to fight this killer disease. You can depend upon him to continue to blame others when things go wrong. You can depend upon him to care nothing about the suffering and dying that is all around. You can depend upon him to focus solely on what’s good for Trump.

Turns out that’s a multiple whammy.

The lack of a robust testing protocol is why we don’t have accurate, targeted quarantines to prevent the spread of the disease. Lacking that testing information is why we’re all quarantined and why the disease continues to spread and why millions are out of work and out of money. And that financial nightmare for millions of Americans is why we are in a financial depression from which it will take years to recover. And that financial depression is why we will be at far greater risk from international bad actors for a long time.

In other words, our human carnage catastrophe, our economic peril and our future foreign vulnerabilities are largely self-inflicted injuries that are due to the cowardice, ineptitude and total self-focus of Donald Trump.

That is why we don’t do widespread testing to control coronavirus and protect the people.

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If you’d like to learn about the kind of leadership we truly need, my pal John Calia recently penned a post that provides that clarity. Read it here.

And watch this ad from The Lincoln Project. The message from these traditional conservatives has Trump apoplectic, so instead of focusing on our  dire national circumstances, he’s using his presidential time to rage tweet. Decide for yourself if someone telling truths he doesn’t like is justification for him abandoning his post.

NOTE – be sure to click the SKIP ADS button on the right side of the YouTube video.

Click me

Looking for a way to make a difference? Check out the One Minute Activist list right here. Not in the Chicago area? Just substitute organizations in your area as appropriate and go make a difference. Yes, today.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Consequences


Reading time – 3:55  .  .  .

Caution: There’s just a little bit of snark at the very end. Please practice safe snark.

We’re still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, although if they were able to speak for themselves the over 5,800 people who have died of the illness might describe this stage a bit differently. Nevertheless, all healthcare professionals have made it clear that this is going to get far worse before it gets better. What you need to know is where we are and how we got here. That will be instructive for knowing where we must go.

To become clear about where we are with this disease you can view a regularly updated global tracker at the Johns Hopkins CSSE site. The acceleration of the numbers is most alarming, as we’re seeing a doubling of cases every six days. Click here for a most useful analogy that explains that.

As for how we got here, start with this: we knew about this virus as far back as December 2019 – a quarter of a year ago. The epidemiologists were clear at that time that this was going to be a very big problem and advised immediate preparation; however, their cautionary recommendations were ignored. Perhaps as bad, had we taken their advice, there would have been a huge obstacle to overcome in order for anything helpful to happen. Here’s why.

President Donald Trump fired the U.S. Pandemic Response Team in 2018, calling it a cost cutting measure. I don’t buy it.

The Pandemic Response Team had been instituted by President Obama following the successful battle against the Ebola virus in 2014. It included sub-teams at the CDC, the Defense Department and at the National Security Agency so that we would be ready in all those areas when – not if – the next pandemic arrived. Based on so many other episodes of Trump, in his boundless insecurity, deleting Obama’s programs regardless of their value to the nation, my belief about his motivation to disband this critical unit is that it was yet another effort to erase everything bearing Obama’s name.*

Regardless, the professionals were removed. Those firings left us with no immediate expertise or mechanisms to deal with a new pandemic. None. And Trump accepts no responsibility for that. Further, “Trump also cut [overall] funding for the CDC, forcing the CDC to cancel its efforts to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics .  .  .  Among the countries abandoned? China.”

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan City, China. Had we helped to mitigate its spread then, world conditions might be far better right now.

This story gets worse, as you know, because we still don’t have one tenth of one percent of the testing capability we need. The CDC’s kit was fouled by a bad reagent, making it essentially useless. Our commercial labs are still ramping up and we haven’t sourced test kits from abroad. The resources we do have are not just insufficient in quantity, but are also slow and cumbersome. There are other proven options ready to go now, including a machine made in Germany that can produce accurate results in 1 hour instead of 4 hours or even a day or two. However, the FDA is bumbling through authorization to use these machines. Here’s a link to a full report on how this COVID-19 testing ineptitude happened.

The truth is that we don’t know how many people in America have the virus because we are unable to test any but extreme cases due to our lack of test kits. That’s an impediment to our knowing who needs to be quarantined so they don’t infect others, where the virus is spreading, the extent of its impact, where to deploy resources like ventilators, protective gear for hospital staff, oxygen generation equipment, surgical masks and so much more.

During Trump’s Oval Office talk on March 11 he told us, “Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.” None of that was true. That is a key problem, not just because of our inability to know what’s going on, but because as Trump continues to spew happy talk and magical thinking, he isn’t firmly addressing our very real challenges or providing the leadership we need. Almost as bad, he contradicts the experts who, unlike Trump, are knowledgeable. That leaves all the rest of us not knowing what to believe. That’s a potent way to spread fear.

In my day job I deliver keynotes and workshops on great leadership and I know when I don’t see it.

The point of all of this is not to pen yet another diatribe about our incompetent President. Rather, it is to illustrate how we got to where we are. We must be clear about what can happen when we aren’t careful in our political choices, because this pandemic, which could have been minimized, is in the process of killing hundreds, thousands or even millions of Americans who could have been protected had we been prepared.

Elections do have consequences and what’s happening right now is one of them.

It didn’t have to be this way.**


Links to Resources

There is a cost to getting people tested and to help those who need treatment. Watch the entire clip – ALL THE WAY TO THE END – of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) making sure we’ll get what we’ll need.

Advice For the Public – World Health Organization – WHO

Nine Charts that Explain the Corona Virus Pandemic – Vox

CoronaVIrus (COVID-2019) – What You Should KnowCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Download and read this. It is a PDF format of an email received yesterday from a local shop and contains the comments of four doctors, two of them in Italy. It is long – please read all of it.

Beware of those who poo-poo the threat of COVID-19, claiming far more people die annually from the flu and other terrible things. Every year the flu starts with small numbers; that’s how it was with the terrible Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918; it was the same for Bubonic Plague, which eventually killed 25% of the people in Europe. The disease number comparisons are meaningless until it’s all over. Right now we can’t even see to when this corona virus will be over. Worse, these comparisons can lull people into carelessness. Ignore them.

Fun Facts

We’re already running out of respirators and, as mentioned, the patient load doubles every six days.

It is expected that between 75 – 150 million Americans will contract COVID-19 and 15-20% of those affected will require hospitalization. That’s between 11,250,000 and 30,000,000 hospital patients, nearly all of whom will need to stay a while. Those numbers don’t include patients suffering from other maladies requiring hospitalization.

There are 924,107 staffed hospital beds in the U.S.

Do the math.

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Finally, stay well and don’t do medically foolish stuff. Help your family, friends and neighbors, the old lady across the street – and do it carefully. We’re all in this together. Because Hillary Clinton was right: It takes a village. And we are that village.


  • *President Trump has repeatedly insisted that he’s not to blame for our medically threatening conditions. His having disbanded the Pandemic Response Team puts the lie to his words.
  • ** “This way” – As Granny struggles in her hospital bed, gasping for just a little more air from her respirator for her pneumonia-soaked lungs, her MAGA hat wearing family is gathered around her. They know this is the end and they weep for their love of her and for their looming loss. Then the walls shake, as the ceiling speakers boom in Darth Vader’s voice: “It is your des-ti-ny.” And they tremble in their horror and their fear, because all at once they realize that this is what they chose.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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