The best US solution to the coronavirus pandemic: SHUT.IT.DOWN — two weeks of China + one month of South Korea
The best US solution to the coronavirus pandemic: SHUT.IT.DOWN — two weeks of China + one month of South Korea
For the last few weeks, I have been screaming at the top of my lungs about “exponential growth.” That’s because so few people realized the impact such growth could have in a pandemic, over the course of just a few months, even weeks.I first began thinking about this as soon as I read a Tweet by Trevor Bedford a month ago about how coronavirus had probably been circulating, undetected, in Washington for three to six weeks. I immediately thought, with a jolt, about what that meant in terms of exponential growth.
Looking back over my private correspondence, I see where I first voiced the likely impact back on February 27. Here’s what I wrote then:
“The CDC only has 250 working test kits. They have *none* to spare to check for community spread. Thus the virus will spread for several weeks undetected until tests are administered among the first very sick. By then it will be too late.
“Meanwhile the Administration has clamped a gag order on the government scientists. To my knowledge, it has taken no action to obtain the thousands of test kits that are needed from other countries.
“In short, malpractice by the Buffoon in chief could easily lead to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.”
And so I started shouting from the rooftops about exponential spread. Nothing since then has caused me to change my mind.
By now, at least among those who are able to listen and comprehend, exponential growth has been accepted as the immediate course of the pandemic. Steps have been taken, of greater or lesser effect, in a number of countries to stop it.
Today I want to switch gears. Because I am congenitally predisposed to thinking about what we are able to control – how to come up with a solution to when we cannot avoid being rolled over by a bulldozer.
So, here’s what I think we need to do to stop the exponential spread of this disease:
SHUT. EVERYTHING. DOWN.
Unlike South Korea, but very much like China, the US waited too long to test for the spread of this virus. In the past 24 hours, the number of diagnoses of coronavirus infection has grown by almost *5000.* Just for one day.
In South Korea, they had one central focus – an extreme religious sect -for the spread of the virus. Even so, it took a ratio of 15 tests to 1 positive result over a period of about a week for South Korea to bring its pandemic under control.
15 x 5000 positives = 75,000. That’s the number of tests the US would have had to administer yesterday to bring it up to South Korea’s standard. Actually, yesterday there were only 27,000 tests.
In short, the US is continuing to *lose* ground.
Barring a stellar, Herculean effort, we’re simply not going to get to the level of testing we need to get ahead of the exponential spread of this virus. Within a few days, the number we need to be testing will grow to 100,000/day, and then 150,000/day, and then …. You get the idea.
To be blunt, to prevent a worst case scenario – one which will be upon us in a matter of several months, if not several weeks, the US needs to take more drastic action.
The ultimately voluntary “social distancing” that has been put in place has been violated constantly by the Young Invulnerables, as we have seen from photos of packed bars and restaurants last weekend, to packed beaches in Florida earlier this week. We might slow down the exponential spread of the virus, but frankly, I think this approach is ultimately going to fail.
THE US NEEDS TO TAKE THE CHINESE APPROACH. China’s national government shut down virtually the entire country for about two weeks. During that time of enforced national quarantine, the spread of the virus was brought to a halt. Since the virus’s latency period is one to two weeks, that was all it took to break the chain of transmission.
The Federal government in the US almost certainly lacks the Constitutional authority for such a national lockdown. But the Constitution reserves all powers not granted to the Federal government to the States, and the States have what is called “police power.” “Police power” is why Massachusetts was able to completely shut down the Boston metropolitan area while they searched for the Tsarnaev brothers. It’s why Gov. Gavin Newsome had the authority to completely lock down California effective last night.
California’s example should be followed immediately by every other State in the Union. the federal government can offer the services of the National Guard to help enforced the lockdown. If some States (mainly “red” States) refuse to go along, then governors on a regional basis need to form their own “cordon sanitaire.” I am thinking such a map, of two or possible three such regions, would look very similar to the 2008 Electoral College map:
In addition to the above, I can easily see Kentucky and Kansas (New Democratic governors), and also Arizona, Utah, and even Texas (which shut down its bars and restaurants yesterday) potentially joining in the interstate shutdown.
In such a case, each governor should contribute their own State’s national guard units to make sure that there is no entry from other, non-locked-down States, into the area.
While the two week regional or national lockdowns are in effect, ICU facilities and more than anything else, testing, needs to be ramped up and available in large numbers for when the lockdown ends and inevitably a few new hot spots start to emerge.
In short, two weeks of China followed by one month of South Korea is the US’s best chance of bringing this pandemic under control without a ghastly number of fatalities, and catastrophic economic damage.
Somehow, I don’t see a ban on interstate travel holding up. Apart for the Gestapo tactics it implies, the already severe economic burden will only be greater on the states enforcing the cordon.
The more important question is: why is The Dumpster®’s disapproval rating shrinking?
They are already giving up on getting more tests. Maybe if the new 45 minute test does get produced sufficiently, that will change, but some areas now say don’t test unless it will make a difference in treatment. If we get a specific treatment, that may change again, but for now – don’t waste your time.
That should be the nation’s response to listening to Trump spread misinformation (still).
Lets get the Wall Funds back or stop building Destroyers in Bath Maine which Collins sold her
solesoul for to Trump. Worth billions also.
Would you let me come home, alone in my car, using disposable gloves to pump gas and keeping social distance at a couple of rest stops or peeing in a jug I have with me for that purpose? Hope so because I am at a rural cottage in Wisconsin getting some work done to preserve my investment and wish to return home to Indiana next week. Seriously, when you get away from the cities ( where there is mass transit and people get crammed into office buildings ) people are often pretty isolated except for school, church and taverns. With all of those closed the grocery store becomes the biggest congregation of people. In short, while I do not doubt your exponential growth nor the fact that in some locales it is too late to stop the spread by anything short of what you propose, that is not true in more rural areas. A very large number of people are going to die unless there is a very effective treatment developed like tomorrow—that is baked into the cake—but your proposed closing of state borders is not only unconstitutional( probably are exceptions but they would be federal) but unnecessary. There is also the issue of necessary commerce—food, fuel, medical supplies etc.
It occurs to me that you can freely roam in your private car bubble during a shelter-in-place order. That sounds indistinguishable to me from taking a stroll or a bike ride. For a lot of people — the elderly in particular — it may be the only way they can get out and about just for the sake of getting out. If you may drive to a park to take a walk, why may you not drive back and forth to a park just for the ride?
I may be just getting over a pretty mild case of the virus myself.
I had planned to come out of my gated garage in Chicago to utilize the McDonald’s drive thru across the street for lunch everyday (my usual lunch). But instead I always find myself taking a short jaunt to a McDonald’s a mile away — a nice relief. Getting around a bit in our closed car bubbles may be just the thing to help us tolerate movement restrictions as this thing drags out — to avoid temptation to break the “prohibition.”
You can take your whole family out for the same old Sunday ride around as long as they live with you — and stay buttoned up.
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There should be strict work rules in place to protect workers who have to handle money and credit cards all day. Hand washing facilities should be placed right at the work spot so they can sanitize immediately when they leave the work place. I’m worried about the kid in the McDonald’s drive thru window. I was thinking about sanitizing my credit card but I am guessing he of she is going to do 50+ an hour X 8 hour shift.
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Another common sense thing would be some mechanism to allow people who have passed through the illness and are beyond the transmission to others phase to be returned to circulation so to speak — if there is some scientific/bureaucratic way to do it. Might possibly get things rolling back to normal a hell of a lot sooner — and more smoothly transitioned. Make everyone feel a lot better to watch the world coming back — start tomorrow. I know there is some process by which you can tell whether someone has achieved immunity — may be just a question if possible to manufacture enough I guess.
This latter could be done at the local level — prodding the federal to get moving. Bring the economy back for the price of some ID badges? Use the state driver’s license facility? Got nothing else to do.
i suppose new deal democrat is right about how to stop the epidemic, but i am not ready for complete control of my life by the government.
I spend the best part of my life outdoors just walking around, When I was a kid this was enough to get me stopped by the poiice and even taken to jail if they didn’t like me… and i am white.
i don’t want to go back to that. now that i am a shabbily dressed grownup they might shoot me. “he had his hands in his pockets: I thought he had a gun.”
i try my best to stay fifty feet or several hundred feet away from others.
at this point [they say] there is no way to prevent almost all of us from getting the virus, some of us will die. i don’t want to spend the rest of my days locked up in my house… or jail… because a criminal president was more worried about his image than the lives of millions of people, and congress was more worried about selling their stocks before the crash, and my fellow liberals are more worried about dying than the civil rights of anybody.
The idea of letting those who had gone through the illness return to normal activity sounds better than it probably would be. Now you give an incentive to folks to get sick and get over it. I consider my general health and what I think I know about the disease and would be very tempted to find a way to get infected if I had the incentive of what could be a really significant advantage for my career just a couple of weeks away. The income I need for my 6 person family is critically endangered now, mainly to protect the elderly and those otherwise in frail health. If the plan is to keep everyone in that posture, well it is very tough but maybe tolerable. But if the notion settles in that under 50s can roll the dice with a tremendous chance of simply a week of feeling moderately lousy and then stomp all over the career prospects of those “idiots” who are still self-isolating, forget it. If someone wanted to guarantee the income of every American who self-isolates for 12 months and also reintroduce those who have recovered into normal activities, well that might work. The policy otherwise makes Brady Sluder (the young man famous for telling the world his view of the priority of partying) a kind of prophet.
Why would you risk it? “40 percent of patients sick enough to be hospitalized were aged 20 to 54.” While older people have a greater chance of dying, are you willing to take a risk even though you are younger. Furthermore when those who are younger expose themselves to a greater chance of becoming ill, they take resource away from those who have a higher risk of dying with less exposure.
the danger (among others) is that we (any of us) will think we have THE answer and impose it on everyone else… even if we think we are only imposing it on ourself. our actions have consequences unlooked for.
i think a pretty good case can be made for voluntary self quarantine, and we can hope that nearly everyone will honor it. but we become pol-pot insane when we start running around trying to force everyone to do what we think is god’s, or the collective’s, will. on the other hand, we might see someone egregiously taking chances with someone else’s life and decide we need to stop them. i would be very, very careful about the latter, but i can only urge other people to be just as careful; i can’t force them to not force someone else. at some point we are all subject to the laws of entropy… those damn little electrons can’t be trusted to follow the laws of physics.
we don’t know that having had the disease makes you immune, or makes you not a carrier. you don’t know that having the disease won’t kill you, or someone near you, despite your being young and healthy.
and, this is probably what you were already saying, i can certainly bet that any attempt to follow such a policy would certainly result in so many unintended consequences that we would be very sorry we tried it.
the economy is going to be bad, they say. worse for some than others. we could actually prevent that from being fatal to anyone if we had leaders who had common sense and any concern for common decency. in the end we might even discover that the free market is not the answer to everything, or that we might be able to live quite happily with less money and more time.