COVID-19 Update: No Plan For Testing

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment



More than 5,400 cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in North Carolina across 94 counties. Thursday featured an increase of 342 cases from Wednesday with an additional 14 deaths. Wake County has 557 cases while Durham County has 388 cases.

The New York Times’ David Leonhardt​​ ‘s newsletter:

This has been the week when everybody seems to be thinking about reopening the economy. Governors are talking about it. So are President Trump and leaders in much of Europe. Today, Trump plans to announce new guidelines on social distancing that will move the country toward reopening.

But before anyone gets too excited, it’s worth taking a look at what’s happening in Singapore, which has been celebrated for a model response to the virus.

Singapore’s approach has certainly been aggressive — and more effective than the American approach. In January, as the virus was spreading within the Chinese city of Wuhan, Singapore officials began screening travelers arriving in their country and placing anyone who tested positive into quarantine. Singapore also quarantined some travelers who didn’t have symptoms but had been exposed to the virus. And Singapore tested its own residents and tracked down people who had come in contact with someone who tested positive.

The result has been only 10 deaths, out of a population of 5.6 million, despite the country’s close ties with China. “They never had a big outbreak, because they were ready and nimble,” Aaron Carroll, a professor at Indiana University’s medical school and a contributor to The Times, told me.

Thanks to that response, Singapore had been able to avoid the kind of lockdowns that other countries had put in place. Restaurants and schools were open, albeit with people keeping their distance from each other. Large gatherings were rare. Singapore, in short, looked as the United States might look after the kind of partial reopening many people have begun imagining.

But Singapore doesn’t look that way anymore. Even there, despite all of the successful efforts at containment, the virus never fully disappeared. Now a new outbreak is underway.

The number of new cases has surged, as you can see in the chart above. In response, the country announced a lockdown two weeks ago. Singapore’s “present circumstances,” Carroll writes in a piece for The Times, “bode poorly for our ability to remain open for a long time.”

Many public health experts agree. Moving toward reopening still makes sense. But it will need to be done with extreme care. Even if it is, as in Singapore, people should be prepared for a series of partial reopenings — varying from place to place — that will sometimes be followed by new lockdowns.

As Ed Yong writes in The Atlantic:

The only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will probably arise. Much about that period is unclear, but the dozens of experts whom I have interviewed agree that life as most people knew it cannot fully return. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.”

Both the Carrol and Yong articles are well worth reading if you want to know what should be done: aggressive testing, tracking, quarantining and long-term social distancing. Oy…

Offers of bogus drugs to prevent or treat coronavirus infection. Websites selling fake vaccines. False promises of speedier receipt of government stimulus checks.

This is the new face of fraud.

With millions of Americans out of work and hunkered down at home because of the pandemic, twists on tried-and-true criminal techniques are flourishing. Multiple federal agencies, including the F.B.I., the Internal Revenue Service and the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, have recently issued advisories, warning consumers to beware of fraudsters eager to prey on people at a stressful time.

The fraught nature and unique circumstances of the pandemic have created an atmosphere of uncertainty, and that has led people to crave control, said Stacey Wood, a psychology professor at Scripps College. That may make them more susceptible to offers of unproven treatments and other virus-related fraud. “Opportunists take advantage of consumers’ vulnerabilities,” she said.

The Federal Trade Commission has received more than 18,000 coronavirus-related complaints, according to commission data from January through April 15. More than half the complaints involved some type of fraud, with reported losses of nearly $9 million.

Whether by telephone, phishing emails, text messages or social media promotions, unscrupulous actors are using their warped creativity to separate people from their cash, officials say.

The frauds include businesses selling intravenous vitamin C drips to “boost immunity” to the virus, websites offering masks that never arrive and even reports of fake drive-up testing sites, where impostors swabbed people’s cheeks in exchange for cash.

The F.T.C. and the Food and Drug Administration have jointly sent warning letters to companies selling teas, essential oils and colloidal silver — silver particles suspended in liquid — and other substances that supposedly prevent the virus. The F.D.A. has said that there currently are no products scientifically proven to prevent infection with, or to treat, the virus.

Trump’s Reopening Guidelines:

Trump just sent out a series of tweets which seem to be taking the side of the far-right “re-open” movement.

Kind of strange, since yesterday he was talking about the need to be smart about reopening. It’s like he wants to ingratiate himself with his crazy base, even as they desire to see death tolls rise.

He’s watching Fox News:

Ah, the press conference:

He lies.