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The U.S. Isn’t Ready for What’s About to Happen

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,266
2,971
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Good read! An excellent article!!

For the professionals who try to manage homeland-security threats, reassuring the public after a natural disaster or terrorist attack—or amid a coronavirus outbreak like the one the world now faces—is just part of the job. I am a former federal and state homeland-security official. I study safety and resiliency issues in an academic setting, advise companies on their emergency-response plans, and trade ideas with people in public health, law enforcement, and many other disciplines. Since the beginning of the disease now known as COVID-19, I’ve also been receiving more and more text messages from nervous relatives and friends. The rash decisions that panic breeds have never made any emergency better. So like many others in my field, I’ve been urging people, in as calm a tone as I can muster, to listen to experts and advising them about concrete steps they can take to keep their families, communities, and businesses safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Avoid large gatherings. Don’t panic, and prepare as best you can.

Advice like mine is meant to be empowering, but now I fear it may also be misleading. If Americans conclude that life will continue mostly as normal, they may be wrong. The United States is far less prepared than other democratic nations experiencing outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Low case counts so far may reflect not an absence of the pathogen but a woeful lack of testing.

Disruptions are almost certain to multiply in the weeks to come. Airlines are scaling back flights. Conferences, including Austin’s signature event, South by Southwest, are being canceled. The drop in imports is hurting global supply chains. Corporations are prohibiting their employees from traveling and attending mass gatherings. Stanford University just canceled its in-person classes for the rest of the winter quarter, and other institutions are likely to take similar steps. Government agencies and private companies alike will activate continuity-of-operations protocols, as they are called in my field. Get used to it.


Aggressive steps are essential to protecting the public from a deadly virus. Last week, the World Health Organization assessed the fatality rate at a shocking 3.4 percent, much higher than previously believed. Early on, many American medical experts withheld judgment about the limited data coming out of China, but information from around the world has now confirmed how severe COVID-19 is and how rapidly it is spreading. As Dr. Margaret Bordeaux, my colleague at the Security and Global Health Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School, told me, “None of us want to be Chicken Little, but there is too much consistent data to not begin to rattle the cage pretty loudly.”

Even if the United States were far more ready for COVID-19, the consequences could still be grievous. In my field, adequate preparation means having the plans, money, equipment, and expertise in place to avert all but a tiny percentage of the harms that might otherwise occur. Yet because of the nature of pandemics, even a level of preparation that looks robust to homeland-security experts could still fail to prevent thousands of deaths.


I live in Massachusetts. During the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, three people died at the finish line, as two homemade bombs ripped through the crowd of spectators. It was a tragedy for their families and the people of Boston. Nearly 300 other people were injured. Fortunately, the city has a large number of hospitals with excellent trauma centers and was therefore unusually well prepared for such an emergency. Some people were treated on the scene; 127 others—many of whom lost limbs—were transported to local hospitals. Not a single patient who survived the initial blast died. Was this good news? Unequivocally yes. The efforts of so many first responders and health professionals, and the public, saved those who might have otherwise died. But success is relative. That even careful preparations could still leave some people dead and others badly harmed is both a fact of life and appalling to accept.

A threat as dire as the new coronavirus exposes the weaknesses in our society and our politics. If Americans could seek testing and care without worrying about co-pays or surprise bills, and if everyone who showed symptoms had paid sick leave, the United States could more easily slow the spread of COVID-19. But a crisis finds a nation as it is, not as its citizens wish it to be.

The coronavirus—and the measures enacted to stop it—could quickly change the rhythms of Americans’ daily lives. The United States is seeing its first deaths, first emergency declarations, first school closings, first mandatory work-at-home policies. If the number of COVID-19 cases spikes quickly, hospitals could soon be deluged with patients seeking care. This is a predictable consequence of any epidemic, but few Americans’ personal experience gives them any reason to understand how disruptive these changes could be if the epidemic continues to worsen.
Ironically, the officials now urging citizens to keep calm understand far more acutely than the general public how much else can go wrong. A municipal police chief in the Boston area recently urged me to imagine that a school district closed for even three weeks. Take just one child, raised by a single parent who is a police officer. The child is home, so the parent must stay home. Other officers in the same patrol will be affected even if they don’t have kids in school. Shifts will change, nonessential functions will be put off, and the department will have less flexibility to respond to problems unrelated to the epidemic—even as, with more teens unsupervised, rates of car accidents and certain crimes could well increase.

Emergency-response officials are hesitant to play out these dangers in public. This police chief asked me not to identify him because, like so many others in positions of responsibility, he worries that misgivings like his will become self-fulfilling prophecies—that citizens will panic if their local authorities give voice to their own doubts.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and his administration have vacillated between ignoring the threat and making wildly unrealistic promises about it. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence promised 1.5 million coronavirus tests, but The Atlantic reported Friday that, according to all available evidence, fewer than 2,000 had been conducted in the United States. Trump himself is simply lying about basic facts about the COVID-19 response; despite the testing kit shortfall, he has publicly stated that everyone who wants to get tested can get tested.
Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes: Trump’s Playbook Is Terribly Ill-Suited to a Pandemic
China’s aggressive containment of the new virus in the early weeks of this year gave other nations time to ready themselves for what was inevitably going to come: a shortage of test kits and personal protective equipment for a virus that spreads as quickly and causes as many deaths and hospitalizations as COVID-19 does.

The United States wasted that opportunity. Trump’s initial impulse to downplay the risk, at least until the stock market took note, wasn’t just fanciful; it was dangerous. He has consistently minimized the number of sick, blamed Barack Obama’s administration for a shortage of test kits, and publicly mused about the potential of a vaccine being found quickly. The American response to the new disease should be based on something more than hunches and magical thinking.



 
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tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
11,485
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Our feckless fearless useful idiot leader says Dem fear mongering about the virus is a hoax, the numbers are going down and nothing to worry about except how his own image and chances of getting reelected are affected by this badly timed pandemic.

A recap of his lies:

 

dawp

Lifer
Jul 2, 2005
10,310
1,521
126
Our feckless fearless useful idiot leader says Dem fear mongering about the virus is a hoax, the numbers are going down and nothing to worry about except how his own image and chances of getting reelected are affected by this badly timed pandemic.

A recap of his lies:

it's probable that trump is keeping the numbers artificially low:
posted this in another thread.
 

sportage

Diamond Member
Feb 1, 2008
8,876
1,158
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Is it probable that trump is killing off old people, the drain on his economy?
With the national debt insanely out of control and mainly due to Donald Trump and his policies, AND.... given that if re-elected Trump will have a short time to eliminate the national debt as not to scar his legacy?
We hear hints of cutting into the safety nets, social security, medicare, etc etc.
And who relies most on medicare and social security? You guesses it, old grams and gramps. Those bastards.
Create a virus, kill them off, and poof! No need to cut anything. Dead seniors collect no federal funds.
Frankly, and with knowing Donald Trump and the type of government Trump desires to create, would this be of any surprise?
Think of the virus. How it came out of nowhere. And how a vacation cruise ship or two with a hand full of vacationers on board could have infect every state in the nation.
Does this happen every day?
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,266
2,971
126

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
50,233
2,910
126
Is it probable that trump is killing off old people, the drain on his economy?
With the national debt insanely out of control and mainly due to Donald Trump and his policies, AND.... given that if re-elected Trump will have a short time to eliminate the national debt as not to scar his legacy?
We hear hints of cutting into the safety nets, social security, medicare, etc etc.
And who relies most on medicare and social security? You guesses it, old grams and gramps. Those bastards.
Create a virus, kill them off, and poof! No need to cut anything. Dead seniors collect no federal funds.
Frankly, and with knowing Donald Trump and the type of government Trump desires to create, would this be of any surprise?
Think of the virus. How it came out of nowhere. And how a vacation cruise ship or two with a hand full of vacationers on board could have infect every state in the nation.
Does this happen every day?
I think it's probable that you're a crazy person.
 

pmv

Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
6,899
2,230
136
On the plus side, South Korea is the only nation that is actually rolling out tests for people, and they're showing a 0.6% mortality rate.


Could be...that's what I thought it was going to be early on (I would have guessed at a bit under 1%)...but on the other hand, it apparently takes about a month from infection to death for those that die, and apparently about the same for recovery, so that time delay will complicate the figures. Many of those currently infected but not recovered could yet die, raising the death rate.

Looking at only the resolved cases - those who have either died or recovered - you get a death rate of 25%, which, conversely, is I'm sure, far too high. So I don't really know what to think. I just periodically check the numbers and worry about my elderly relatives.

I'm feeling retrospectively annoyed with all those medics who slightly condescendingly asked if you'd had your 'flu shots' and went on about how many people die of flu. This is clearly not akin to flu. Flu hasn't, in my lifetime, led to the whole of Italy being "locked down". I doubt it's caused this much global economic damage in that time either.
 
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SteveGrabowski

Diamond Member
Oct 20, 2014
3,006
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Could be...that's what I thought it was going to be early on (I would have guessed at a bit under 1%)...but on the other hand, it apparently takes about a month from infection to death for those that die, and apparently about the same for recovery, so that time delay will complicate the figures. Many of those currently infected but not recovered could yet die, raising the death rate.

Looking at only the resolved cases - those who have either died or recovered - you get a death rate of 25%, which, conversely, is I'm sure, far too high. So I don't really know what to think. I just periodically check the numbers and worry about my elderly relatives.

I'm feeling retrospectively annoyed with all those medics who slightly condescendingly asked if you'd had your 'flu shots' and went on about how many people die of flu. This is clearly not akin to flu. Flu hasn't, in my lifetime, led to the whole of Italy being "locked down". I doubt it's caused this much global economic damage in that time either.
True, the long incubation could be seriously skewing things in the positive direction in South Korea. Probably need another couple of weeks to see if this is the case. It's frightening seeing how bad things are going in Italy when you consider it's a nation with one of the most robust safety nets in the world. On NPR they were saying anyone in Italy who gets sick gets an immediate 3 day paid sick leave and then 20 days at half pay if they're still sick. Meanwhile in the US everyone doing McJobs at Walmart, fast food, gas stations, grocery stores, etc is going to be working sick just to make rent, pay the lights, food, etc. Originally watching the chaos in Italy all I could think is that's us in 2-3 weeks. But we're going to be way worse most likely.
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,266
2,971
126
True, the long incubation could be seriously skewing things in the positive direction in South Korea. Probably need another couple of weeks to see if this is the case. It's frightening seeing how bad things are going in Italy when you consider it's a nation with one of the most robust safety nets in the world. On NPR they were saying anyone in Italy who gets sick gets an immediate 3 day paid sick leave and then 20 days at half pay if they're still sick. Meanwhile in the US everyone doing McJobs at Walmart, fast food, gas stations, grocery stores, etc is going to be working sick just to make rent, pay the lights, food, etc. Originally watching the chaos in Italy all I could think is that's us in 2-3 weeks. But we're going to be way worse most likely.
The short version is -- what is wrong with this picture?? When people have to go to work sick even if they have a highly contagious disease........hmmmmm
 
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SteveGrabowski

Diamond Member
Oct 20, 2014
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The short version is -- what is wrong with this picture?? When people have to go to work sick even if they have a highly contagious disease........hmmmmm
How about the "solutions" coming out of DC? Tax breaks for the cruise industry. Or cutting payroll taxes. What the hell does that do to keep sick people from being stuck having to go in to work and further spread the virus? You can stay sick and infecting others, but just keep buying shit is what the Republicans are telling us.
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,266
2,971
126
How about the "solutions" coming out of DC? Tax breaks for the cruise industry. Or cutting payroll taxes. What the hell does that do to keep sick people from being stuck having to go in to work and further spread the virus? You can stay sick and infecting others, but just keep buying shit is what the Republicans are telling us.
Let us take a page out of the Republican play book.....humor me..ok?
The Republican claim that Trump was put in office by God -- Trump is God`s man!
Well now God sees that Trump won`t leave office so God in his infinite wisdom allowed a pandemic to hit the USA and in doing so, Trump and company are showing how unfit they are to serve and this virus could be the downfall of Trump......what guy!!!
 

pmv

Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
6,899
2,230
136
Let us take a page out of the Republican play book.....humor me..ok?
The Republican claim that Trump was put in office by God -- Trump is God`s man!
Well now God sees that Trump won`t leave office so God in his infinite wisdom allowed a pandemic to hit the USA and in doing so, Trump and company are showing how unfit they are to serve and this virus could be the downfall of Trump......what guy!!!
No, no, it's God's punishment for daring to try and impeach Trump! Note that the Good Lord has spared Russia!

Actually, I wonder what's really going on in Turkey and Russia? While everyone can see the disaster unfolding in Italy, there are also all these other countries that are black boxes.

They make China and Iran seem like paragons of open and honest reporting. Turkey claims to not have a single case of the virus. Utterly ludicrous.

And Iran is scary enough - the back-extrapolations (I'm sure there's a technical world for that concept) in this article seem quite plausible.

 

pmv

Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
6,899
2,230
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Do we really need a thousand virus threads?
There aren't a thousand, there are four. And one of those is 'non-political' which is decidedly limiting. And the others all have titles that supposedly confine them to certain issues. Should really be just one generic 'virus stuff' thread.
 

TheVrolok

Lifer
Dec 11, 2000
23,253
2,517
136
There aren't a thousand, there are four. And one of those is 'non-political' which is decidedly limiting. And the others all have titles that supposedly confine them to certain issues. Should really be just one generic 'virus stuff' thread.
I think you realize I wasn't being literal. Certainly the "thrust" of this thread ("we're not ready") is being discussed in all three of the other threads. There is so much cross discussion that's off topic of the supposedly confining topics that it's hard to recall which discussions are going on in which threads.
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,266
2,971
126
I think you realize I wasn't being literal. Certainly the "thrust" of this thread ("we're not ready") is being discussed in all three of the other threads. There is so much cross discussion that's off topic of the supposedly confining topics that it's hard to recall which discussions are going on in which threads.
I agree!! There should be one thread and only one thread about Trump!
There should be only one thread that encompasses the whole Democratic election.....
P&N woul;d die if that were the case...nice try though............
 

TheVrolok

Lifer
Dec 11, 2000
23,253
2,517
136
I agree!! There should be one thread and only one thread about Trump!
There should be only one thread that encompasses the whole Democratic election.....
P&N woul;d die if that were the case...nice try though............
lol, please, tell me how "we're not ready" isn't a topic that is entirely covered in the other threads because it's certainly being discussed there. Not to mention the little traffic in this thread suggests the same.
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,266
2,971
126
lol, please, tell me how "we're not ready" isn't a topic that is entirely covered in the other threads because it's certainly being discussed there. Not to mention the little traffic in this thread suggests the same.
sorry that you all butt hurt over the fact that i started a new thread! That really is your problem!
So deal with it!
The premise that just because there is another thread on roughly the same topic is absurd!
My point was using your words -- then I should see only one thread about anything Trump says or does....just one!
You really need to get over whatever is bothering you and move on! To allow this to get to you could be the precursor to a heart attack or high blood pressure! Please seek competent medical help, immediately!!
 
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TheVrolok

Lifer
Dec 11, 2000
23,253
2,517
136
sorry that you all butt hurt over the fact that i started a new thread! That really is your problem!
So deal with it!
The premise that just because there is another thread on roughly the same topic i absurd!
My point was using toy words -- then I should see only one thread about anything Trump says or does....just one!
You really need to get over whatever is bothing you and move on! To allow this to get to you could be the precursor to a heart attack or high blood pressure! Please seek competent medical help, immediately!!
lol.
 

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