Politicians keep telling the Sars-Cov-2 virus what to do. The virus has responded by infecting, disabling and killing more effectively https://regenerationhealthnews.com/sleep/interview-with-the-virus/. Countries that controlled the virus, like Vietnam with zero official deaths and Taiwan with seven, aggressively use tracing and tracking.
Why haven’t Americans? Here are some reasons, and why they don’t pass muster.
A. It Won’t Matter
People often tell me, “just let it rip. Then we’ll be over with all this, get back to normal.”
Alright, let’s “let it rip.” With a fatality rate of .5-1%, and a probable disability rate of 3-4% (there are many, many long term negative results of Covid-19 infection) in a world population of 7.8 billion, we’re talking 39-78 million dead and hundreds of millions disabled. Add on social, political, and economic cataclysm as economies and agriculture fails, people go hungry and fight, and the prospects exceed standard definitions of catastrophe. Then there’s the consideration that with a reservoir of billions of cases the virus mutates enough to repeat its destruction season after season.
There is also the position expressed by one of my patients that “when people die of this they go to heaven, and that’s a good thing. So what’s the big deal?”
I told her I would prefer to postpone my end and that of others, if possible.
The US now has as many people dying in ten minutes as Taiwan has lost in six months. Preventing this is very possible.
B. There Are Too Many Cases
As of this writing, Tokyo has shot from 20-40 to 123 daily cases, provoking a “national emergency.” Though most have been traced and tracked, calls are growing for further lockdowns. With a comparable population, Florida now has 10,000 cases a day. After the governor was asked what other measures he’d consider besides telling bars they can’t sell alcohol consumed inside (you’re not actually closing the bars, you see) his response was “Like what?”
Like test, trace, track, isolate, and support. In a recent study ranking states for their tracing and tracking abilities, Florida ranked 51st out of 51 entities https://testandtrace.com/state-data/.
Will this selling point be used to get people to visit Disney World?
With case levels so high tracing and tracking are much more difficult, thus much more needed. You can at least begin to try and control major point outbreaks. Not doing so is on par with saying people will murder each other, so why have police?
C. It’s Too Expensive
There are several metrics for how many tracers and trackers are needed. Dr. Tom Frieden, who ran CDC from 2009 to 2017, argues we need about 260,000 workers nationwide. Including their salaries and the infrastructure required to properly trace and track, you might get a figure of $26 billion per year.
Compare that with at least $3 trillion unleashed by the Fed and Federal government so far.
Are you willing to pay $26 billion a year to get your economy back? Maybe even more?
D. It’s Too Hard
Tracing and tracking is not easy. As Dr. Tony Fauci explained, you can’t just call folks up on the phone. You have to knock on doors. Ask people difficult questions they often don’t want to answer.
Why is why perhaps half of the people in American cities are refusing to talk to tracers and trackers.
In the old days before Covid-19, the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC would spend two weeks educating trackers on how to interview reluctant subjects. We were world leaders in such training. We trained much of the world.
The story of how that expertise has been dismantled, derided, and denied in the past four years requires considerable investigation.
Yet the capacity remains. There are thousands of potential teachers in the U.S. And there are ways in a country with laws like ours to protect privacy so that people do not fear for their jobs and reputation when they talk to field epidemiologists.
During the AIDS epidemic many learned that silence = death. This epidemic is not very different.
The ability to track Covid-19 is fully within the capacity of the United States and every one of its states. What has been lacking is political will, especially from those leaders who thought their words could wish the epidemic away.
Tracing and tracking is not simple work. You need to find cases, test them quickly and accurately, find their contacts, and quickly quarantine them so they do not infect family, co-workers, and everybody else. In many cases that isolation will require housing and support, conditions a devastated hospitality industry might consider a lifeline. Because Americans move around, it further requires national coordination. And it needs to be in place for the next epidemic that might arrive, like the H1N1 swine flu now beginning to infect humans in China.
Get Americans to work together and we can do it. It’s worked all over the globe.
If we don’t? You don’t want to go there.
You already know where we’ve been.