What a National Public-Health Response to Covid-19 Would look like

I have been unable to assess what various governments are doing in the United States, so I created some findings about what China is doing to compare results with the United States.  Following are the most important conventions for halting infectious diseases.  I hoped to find all of them in my information searches for US policy.

1..Stop people from publicly infecting one-another.  This is the first order of protection.  It is accomplished by social distancing cooperation, isolation orders, and physical quarantines.  Public Health officials establish conditions the public is expected to follow.  State governments may augment social distancing by rule of law to close various activities where voluntary action would not be successful such as theaters, sports events, and schools.  Immigration and public health authorities are also able to use quarantine and isolation to refuse admittance into the country at border points and ports-of-entry.  There are twenty quarantine stations at the borders and ports of entry into the US. Each station has medical officers to oversee persons assigned to quarantine, and determine their release when considered safe.

2. Test excessively for cases of Covid-19.   The knowledge gained from testing supports assessments of what the population as a whole looks like.  China tested hundreds of thousands, and the US needs to do likewise. The more that all persons are tested, the better is statistical analysis.  Each record needs vital information of the tested person. In particular, concentrate saturation-testing in high-density living areas.

3. Trace backward in time and place to find all persons who had contact with each known infected person:  All those contacted, whether they were an infector or an infectee have to be tested and reported. Medical examination may be necessary.  Every single contact should be tested.  Public Health employees are appropriate to be assigned this duty. 

4. Build a database of EVERYTHING related to public health activity.  Information is important to every aspect of severing disease connections and postponing surges that overwhelm treatment. One of the most important attributes of China’s success in stopping growth was knowledge contained in a comprehensive data system centrally managed.

5. Disinfect frequently used public places. Places still accessible to the population may become contaminated by infected people touching common objects such as door knobs, hand rails on escalators and stairs, countertops of banks, vending machines, etc.  

6. Publicize information and cautionary reminders. It is important to have favorable public response to directives of health officials.  This is brought about by truthful and frequent updates on what is being done and results thereof.  

All of the least expensive supplies needed to protect the public and public health workers are abundantly available at true market prices.  The reason the US is in short supply of masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, test kits, swabs, et al is because laws permit the FDA to needlessly eliminate them from distribution in the US because they are not approved by the FDA.  There are plenty of competent testing agencies abroad that have examined and permitted these items elsewhere, as for example the European Union.  Temporarily cancel these regulations.  

If the US does not establish a national public health policy in every state that enforces the above six actions, then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy there will not be enough hospital beds, ventilators and infrastructure to meet the future need for them.  Covid-19 is a very short-cycle threat.  It is only about three-weeks-time from infection to final outcome; death or good health regained.  Thus, preventing new infections is more important to ending the pandemic than treating the already-ill.  That is merely a statement of fact, not a suggested policy per se.  Items 1-3 are essential and can be implemented with inexpensive supplies and reasonably abundant workers.  It is too late for item 4, but the place to start is among high density populations and a get-tough policy on social distancing.  

Up to now, we have only made a meager start to halting Covid-19.  In one particular day China’s epidemiological tracking teams – 1800 teams, each of five member’s minimum – made 27,335 close contacts. Every close contact was tested yielding an average 2.0% new confirmed cases.  

Wuhan, China has many clusters of neighborhoods where multi-generations of families reside in large apartment complexes.  Social distancing does not apply here, and China recognized it IMMEDIATELY by testing 100% of the occupants.  They found between 78% and 85% positive testing for Covid-19.  I am reminded of December 7, 1941.  An unprepared United States found itself in a mighty war against the two strongest military powers ever in existence.  We had just lost a substantial part of the navy.  Roosevelt asked William S. Knutsen to be in charge of all military production; he agreed if Roosevelt pledged to leave him completely alone.  The same pledge applies today

Publiustoo.com April 13, 2020