Viewpoints: Self-Quarantine Is Essential During Pandemic, But Will Rush Limbaugh’s Followers Comply?; Lessons On How U.S. Hospitals Can Avoid Italy’s Crisis
Editorial pages weigh in on these issues surrounding COVID-19.
The New York Times:
The Single Most Important Lesson From The 1918 Influenza
In 1918, a new respiratory virus invaded the human population and killed between 50 million and 100 million people — adjusted for population, that would equal 220 million to 430 million people today. Late last year another new respiratory virus invaded the human population, and the reality of a pandemic is now upon us. Although clearly a serious threat to human health, it does not appear to be as deadly as the 1918 influenza pandemic. But it is far more lethal than 2009’s H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, and the coronavirus does not resemble SARS, MERS or Ebola, all of which can be easily contained. (John M. Barry, 3/17)
The Washington Post:
Trump’s Late Conversion To Reality Leaves Out His Supporters
Behold, the perils of the Pinocchio presidency.For three years, President Trump told his supporters that the federal government perpetrates hoaxes and frauds, that the media produces fake news and that nothing is on the level except for his tweets. He did the same with the novel coronavirus, portraying it as an ordinary flu that would “disappear” and accusing Democrats of a hoax and the media of exaggerating. Belatedly, Trump has begun to speak the truth about the virus, which by some estimates could kill more than 2 million Americans without attempts to control it. After an abrupt change of tone Monday afternoon, Trump continued to say the right things, using the same word on Tuesday that former vice president Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have used: war. (Dana Millbank, 3/17)
The New York Times:
In The I.C.U., Before The Coronavirus Storm
I didn’t even notice the balloons at first. With our laser focus on coronavirus, on our protocols and procedures, our carts of isolation gowns and our fears about mask shortages, it is easy to see only pandemic these days. But as we stood outside the cancer patient’s room on our rounds one recent morning, I finally took note. Three “Feel Better Soon” balloons. They were the kind you might buy at the gift shop, colorful and festive. He had been in the hospital for weeks and they were shrunken by now, wilting. (Daniela J. Lamas, 3/17)
The Wall Street Journal:
American Hospitals Can Avoid Italy’s Fate
China locked down Hubei province in late January in a last-ditch attempt to slow the novel coronavirus epidemic. But hospital admissions for Covid-19 continued to rise for another four weeks. At the epidemic’s peak, nearly 20,000 patients were hospitalized, more than 10,000 in severe or critical condition. There are lessons here for the U.S. A rapidly escalating outbreak in a large American city would severely burden an area’s health system. Americans are doing things to try to avert this outcome: working from home, cutting down on social interactions. That will slow down chains of spread. But if two more large cities suffer rapid epidemic spread at the same time, the health system will be overwhelmed. There are steps American hospitals and policy makers can take now to increase capacity to deal with a crisis. (Luciana Borio and former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, 3/17)
In The Coronavirus Pandemic, We're Making Decisions Without Reliable Data
The current coronavirus disease, Covid-19, has been called a once-in-a-century pandemic. But it may also be a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco. At a time when everyone needs better information, from disease modelers and governments to people quarantined or just social distancing, we lack reliable evidence on how many people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 or who continue to become infected. Better information is needed to guide decisions and actions of monumental significance and to monitor their impact. (John P. A. Ioannidis, 3/17)
Why Did It Take So Long For Me To Get Tested For Covid-19?
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Massachusetts is not an accurate reflection of the number of people who are actually sick because delays in testing have left symptomatic patients with nowhere to turn — except back into their communities, possibly spreading germs. (Jennifer Crystal, 3/17)
Coronavirus Testing Delays Caused By Red Tape, Bureaucracy And Scorn For Private Companies
Chaos, disorganization and cluelessness describe the current state of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Doctors, hospitals and state labs give patients needing tests the runaround, each pointing to the other as the place to get tested. Some people self-quarantine for days awaiting their results, only to be told the lab misplaced or bungled the test. As of March 11, the U.S. trailed most of the developed world in tests administered, with per capita numbers virtually the same as Vietnam's. (Jeffrey A. Singer, 3/18)
Coronavirus Has Sent Gun Sales Through The Roof. What Do People Fear?
The people buying every gun available in this country apparently are preparing for total anarchy. Fear and panic is driving the gun-buying frenzy. But fear of what? It can’t be that Americans are arming themselves to protect their stash of toilet paper. Whatever the reason, gun sales are up everywhere but particularly in states like California, New York and Washington that have been hit hardest by coronavirus, according to The Los Angeles Times. Ammo.com also reports that revenue from sales on its website increased 309% from Feb. 23 through March 15, compared to same time a month before. (Elvia Diaz, 3/17)
The New York Times:
The Coronavirus Is Here To Stay, So What Happens Next?
In the last few days, most Americans, even President Trump, have come to terms with the need for social distancing. Though they feel fine, they are staying home and developing new routines — killing time baking, binge-watching, figuring out how to home-school their kids. It took far too long for Americans to accept how serious the coronavirus is. Now that we’ve finally taken the necessary measures in many places to close schools, offices, restaurants and other businesses, people are asking: How soon will it all be over? Two weeks? Four weeks? When can we go back to normal? (Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Susan Ellenberg and Michael Levy, 3/17)
The Washington Post:
Four Ways To Help Prevent Loneliness While You’re Social Distancing
What if we were told that the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic was to smoke 15 cigarettes a day? What would you do? Loneliness, we know from the research, can be as bad for your health as smoking. It’s more predictive of mortality than obesity. And loneliness itself was a pandemic long before covid-19 got its name. (Amanda Ripley, 3/17)
Seven Essential Steps For Thriving In Our New World Of Social Distance
If, like me, you've been receiving emails from most every organization you're involved with saying that classes, lectures, services, and other planned events are now being conducted online amid the coronavirus crisis, you've almost certainly noticed a trend. With so many of us already connecting with our communities through social media and smartphones, we have already taken big steps away from physical proximity as the core of our human intimacy. What we are now witnessing is a quantum leap toward the virtualization of our lives. (Jamie Metzl, 3/17)
Nation's Opioid Addiction Treatment System During COVID-19 Needs Reform
Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. This often repeated and important public health messaging is critically important as the nation seeks to contain COVID-19. Recently, CDC officials encouraged people to have a 2-week stock of their medications. Unfortunately, for people taking medications for opioid use disorder, this simply may not be possible — without critical federal intervention. (Caleb Banta-Green, Regina LaBelle and Dr. Yngvild Olsen, 3/17)