Italy’s coronavirus crisis could be America’s. “Get ready!” doctors in Italy warn.
“Looking at all the signs, and there are many, it would be shocking to me if we didn’t have large numbers of cases undetected, silently transmitting in the community, in multiple countries and regions,” said Lawrence Gostin, the director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
If cases more than double every week — as they appear to be doing in Italy — the US may soon be facing its own crisis.
That’s because both Italy and the US are on the same exponential growth function. UPDATE: The United States Is Not a Coronavirus Outlier. Kevin Drum at MotherJones shows that we are on the same exponential growth function as are European nations. We’re just a bit behind them.
“I don’t think [what happened in Italy is] something specific to what Italy did. It’s just that if the virus had a chance to spread undetected, it’s hard to make up that time,” said [Emma] Hodcroft. “The Italian situation should be a big wake-up call to the rest of Europe and the US.”
While Italy’s economy is already in a nosedive, we don’t yet know the extent of the damage stemming from the country’s overwhelmed health system. We can expect, however, it’ll be significant, said Gostin. “What we’ve learned from all past outbreaks is that when you have a stressed health system, many more people die of other diseases than they do of the actual outbreak disease.”
What America needs to do now.
First, health officials need to find ways to flatten the epidemic curve of the outbreak. And this starts with social distancing measures, like canceling mass public gatherings, encouraging employees to work from home, and even shutting schools and universities, if necessary.
“What’s dangerous about an outbreak is when everyone gets [the disease] at the same time and a health system can’t react,” explained Steven Hoffman, the director of York University’s Global Strategy Lab. “The whole goal of social distancing measures is to decrease the epidemic’s peak” and take that pressure off the health system.
In Italy, those measures weren’t implemented proactively — only as a desperate countermeasure after health officials started to see coronavirus cases climb. And other countries that haven’t yet recorded a spike in cases have time to be proactive.
Besides slowing transmission of the virus, though, there are many other things health officials should be doing right now to prepare for a surge. And they go far beyond the basics, such as making sure hospital beds and intensive care units are freed up to meet patient demand, that health professionals have access to personal protective equipment (including masks), and that there are enough ventilators to support the 10 percent of the potential Covid–19 patients who will need help breathing to stay alive.
… China enhanced its digital health care capacity to keep people from showing up at pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals … This kind of approach is long overdue in America, even outside of a pandemic threat, said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There are over 100 million Americans with chronic conditions and people need to be on their medications for diabetes, seizure disorder, and high blood pressure. That [care] needs to not get interrupted.” And that means states and the federal government should be looking at how to deliver services to patients online right now, he added.
In addition, we need our government to take active measures to restore public trust in what they say. No more bullshit from Trump would be an excellent starting point. But so far, he continues to make shit up.
Mark Sumner (Daily Kos Staff) tells us that Trump’s Google coronavirus website lie may be the ultimate in simply making sh#t up.
… Google is not building the website Trump described. Not with 1,700 engineers. Not at all. Another company owned by the same parent company as Google is working on a site connected to the coronavirus, but it is absolutely nothing like what Trump described. In a press event that was entirely designed to make Trump’s disastrous handling of this crisis look better, Donald Trump decided the best approach was to simply lie his ass off.
Google is working on nothing, they explained. Verily Life Sciences—another company opened by the same parent, Alphabet—is working on a site, but nothing about it matches what Trump said. That site is to help triage COVID–19 patients. It’s only for the Bay Area. And it’s not just about to appear, it’s still in “early stages of development.” Google doesn’t specify how many engineers are working on the site at Verily, but since the entire staff of Verily, most of whom are not web developers, is just 400 people, it’s a cinch it’s not “1,700 engineers.”
So where did Trump get that this was a national site? Where did he get the idea that it was going to be ready soon? Where were the descriptions of the functionality generated? Where did the figure of 1,700 engineers come from?
Those are really good questions. Which you can bet that the press will not ask at the next event.
If we as a nation cannot do the things to slow down the rate of infections, then here is our horrific fate.
Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff, exposes the horror of exponential growth: If the United States is a week behind Italy … brace yourself for horror that still seems impossible. When our health care systems are overloaded by coronavirus cases (and even other diseases and injuries), it will become a matter of who lives and who dies.
Read it and weep.
Thanks to Mrs. Scriber and Roving Reporter Sherry for tips on articles covered here.