The goal of “The Real Issues Concerning COVID-19” series of posts has been to sort out the real issues that will determine when and how economies will reopen in an economically effective and reasonably safe way. I’ve been frustrated that the information broadcasted by the Heath Experts Advising Politicians and The Public (“HEAPPAs”) has (1) caused too many people are too scared to begin to consider when and how to ease nonpharmaceutical interventions (“NPI”), (2) used incorrect and misleading data, and (3) generally failed to advise the public concerning the real COVID-19-related issues facing the American people. HEAPPAs sowed confusion rather than clarity. Confusion fostered doubt that stymies the adoption of useful strategies to move forward.
Having ushered the country into NPI strategy without an exit strategy, HEAPPAs owed the American people useful advice on how to get out of the mess they created. Instead, the little guidance they offered was typically impractical or uselessly sketchy.
- HEAPPAs, without explanation, moved the goalposts concerning the purpose of “flattening the curve.” At first, it was to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Then it was a general-purpose means “to save lives.” Their explanations concerning the first were clear and sound. The reasons concerning how lives would be saved by “flattening the curve” in the absence of hospitals being overwhelmed were virtually non-existent. Their failure to respond to credible critiques of “flattening the curve” being a general purpose life saver by many respected epidemiologist and others left the impression that HEAPPAs could not defend their position or were motivated by non-health objectives.
- HEAPPAs have been mostly mum about the mental and physical harm and death inflicted by NPI — information essential to reasonable decisions about the costs and benefits of reopening. HEAPPAs ignoring their responsibilities to inform on these critical health issues have added unhealthy angst, stress, and discord to an already tum situation.
- After months of silence on the subject, Dr. Fauci’s recently said[i] that he “totally supports” easing NPI because longer lockdowns could do “irreparable damage” to local economies. (Note: He couches the issue in terms of health vs. money, i.e., he talks about the thing about which he has no particular expertise and is silent on the negative health consequences of NPI). Then, he neutered the comment by adding “in a proper way in the appropriate setting,” without providing details concerning what way is proper and what setting might be appropriate.
- The CDC adds to the messy messaging by publishing reopening strategies that are impractical.[ii] While Dr. Fauci’s and the CDC’s lips are saying “carefully reopen,” the practical effect of their words is “remain closed” — without explaining why staying closed is better than reopening. In other words, they have not explained why delaying the COVID-19 deaths is with measures that are killing people is the right approach.
Politicians and the public desperately needed information and constructive advice to make informed decisions and to get the required buy-in by the public so that customers and suppliers would be willing to engage in commerce. They have gotten roughly squat from the HEAPPAs.
As I’ve mentioned before, respected epidemiologists, who were not HEAPPAs (although some have testified to Congress), have disagreed with leaving NPI entirely in place.[iii] Yet, to my knowledge, until a few days ago, no one has advanced a concrete proposal as to how to proceed. Dr. Katz came close on May 7 but did not pull the trigger.[iv] A few days ago, Dr. Darria Long and Dr. David L. Katz came through with a sound framework, which, hopefully, will soon become the basis of a strategic plan.
I highly commend to you:
[ii] For example, see “Considerations for Schools.” How can enough busses be built, bought, and delivered between now and the start of school to achieve 6’ spacing, i.e., two kids per row and only odd or even rows are available. That means that only 14 kids per trip can be transported in a bus designed for 39 kids. Will the kids in the bus at the back of the long que of busses get to the school house door before first period is over?
[iii] “WHO hails Sweden as a ‘model’ for fighting coronavirus without a lockdown” (pulling the rug from under Swedish model bashers), “Why lockdowns are the wrong policy – Swedish expert Prof. Johan Giesecke,” “Perspectives on the Pandemic | Dr. John Ioannidis Update: 4.17.20 | Episode 4,” “Perspectives on the Pandemic | Dr. David L. Katz | Episode 3,” “Perspectives on the Pandemic | Professor Knut Wittkowski Update Interview | Episode 5,” Michael Levitt– Explains this Viral Lockdown – Fully!” and Carl Heneghan “UK coronavirus outbreak peaked before ‘unnecessary’ lockdown,” and “Dr. David Katz | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO).”