Viral Times and Public Health

April 9, 2020 – The good news – the curve of infection seems to be flattening. The bad news – as of this morning, 432,599 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 14,830 deaths were reported in the US, with 16.8 million people filing for unemployment, and in California, the jobless rate already up to over 10% (from 3% a month ago.) Worldwide, 1,503,900 cases and 89,931 deaths were reported. Even with the flattening of the curve, these numbers are expected to double in the next week! Many of us are wondering, “How is all this even possible? Who is responsible? How have we failed?” I’ve seen a number of conspiracy theories posted on line, but in the immortal words of the cartoon strip character Pogo by Walt Kelly, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.”

The US Government has received over 20 warnings since 2005 from scientific commissions and think tanks, warning of the very real possibility of just such a worldwide pandemic, our current lack of resources to deal with it, and had chosen to take no action. In 2015, Bill Gates, who has been supporting public health efforts around the world for the past ten years, presciently gave a TED talk outlining the likelihood of the exact scenario we are now facing. (For those of you interested, he gave a well-reasoned and understandable analysis of our current situation and options in a half hour CNN interview about ten days ago. Check it out.)

I attended medical school at an institution with a world class School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and one of the first things I was taught was that the health care system can only cure retail, but prevent wholesale. Despite this truism, our country has only been spending less than 3% of its healthcare dollar on Public Health and prevention. In the truly global world in which we currently live, the vectors of horrible diseases (think Ebola) are only a day’s flying distance from us. When this current crisis passes (and with time, it will) if we return to our prior posture of sticking our heads in the sand, of not funding our public health programs, of not trying to improve WHO (World Health Organization), we will be back facing either a resurgence of Covid-19, or some new, potentially more lethal disease.

There is no question that our economy is suffering greatly, that many of us are faced with severe financial hardship. Until a vaccine becomes available, which may take another year and a half or longer, those who haven’t already been infected will remain susceptible to becoming ill or dying if the disease surges again because we prioritized money over lives. We desperately need unified leadership to get through this crisis, along with patience on all our parts. We need to be united in hope and in vision, reaching out to those around us who need help the most, and demonstrating kindness and understanding with those in our immediate reach. We need to remain grateful for all that we have been given, and strengthen our faith to support us. As testing becomes more widespread, those who have had the infection and recovered can return to work, and potentially, the antibodies their bodies developed can be used to treat those that are critically ill. Until then, we must remain six feet apart, or face being six feet under. I welcome your comments.

This entry was posted in Covid-19, Health and wellness, News and politics, Organizations, Thoughts & Musings, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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