Coronavirus Update Feb 28, 2020

29 02 2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update Feb 28, 2020 as of 11 p.m.

The first COVID-19 cases have now been reported in Belarus, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, The Netherlands, and Mexico. Japan’s Hokkaido (one of the main islands) declares a state of emergency. Switzerland bands all events over 1,000 people. Kenyan medical personnel are taking charge of border crossings. In the US, the official count of infections stands at 60 as of this morning, but once again, they believe the numbers are much higher as people are likely thinking they have the flu as they share similar symptom presentation. (Has anyone told Trump yet that Dr. Birx, an Obama appointee, is leading the task force now and reporting to Pence who is supposed to be leading the task force?)

Trump was at a rally in South Carolina on Friday saying that this is all a Democratic hoax. You can understand then when the mixed messaging from the administration makes the stock market react, or maybe you can’t because you don’t care; remember that people’s 401K’s are tied to the stock market.

While putting this blog together, the news came through that San Antonio, Texas has 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in San Antonio.  Those infected with the coronavirus, per the CDC, included 9 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, one from the Wuhan group of quarantined passengers and one that was transferred from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, CA. One-hundred-forty-five people remain under quarantine in San Antonio after two planes—one from Wuhan and one from Tokyo—arrived at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland. Ninety people from Wuhan were released after clearing quarantine without contracting the virus. Two of those infected were part of the group that came from Wuhan.

An HHS Whistleblower has now come forth (seeking immunity from repercussions) alleging that the workers met with the first evacuees from China’s Wuhan Province without proper training and without proper infection control or appropriate protective gear. [I apparently know more about infection control than an HHS person with any common sense should have known—I spared my entire family from my bout with the flu in January that lasted 2 weeks. Also when I had surgery and my husband had to change my bandage on my spine, I watched him and every time he broke sterile precautions, he was made to start at the beginning (for example, he would put on gloves, but then touch the sink top, or scratch his face, or blow into his glove to get it on his hand. He got really good after we went through a whole box of gloves the first few dressing changes).] Also, VP Pence is controlling all messaging about the virus which includes health officials. Yes, be suspicious about this. I noticed that on all the channels I was looking at that if someone from the CDC was talking on the news, they spoke their minds. That should reassure you AND make you trust what is coming from them and no others.

My favorite infectious disease doctor, Dr. Matt McCarthy of NY-Presbyterian Hospital and author of the book “Superbugs”, was on a news segment today. The question was asked, “What’s changed since? [he had spoken last].” He said, “A lot has changed. Two days ago, I was here saying we’ve got to focus on testing. Now we have to focus on three things. We have to focus on these drug shortages. That’s the big news going on right now is that what people don’t realize—your viewers may not realize—is when they put a pill in their mouth there are a number of different compounds inside that pill. There is only one that really matters. That’s called the API (active pharmaceutical ingredient). A lot of those APIs are made in China and if we cannot get that API we can’t get to your drug and we’re just starting to see the tip of the iceberg with this. There is the first coronavirus-related drug shortage in the United States. That’s a big problem. And I’m going to say, it’s not just the APIs. We also have to worry about medical devices. We’ve got a whole lot to be worried about. I know we have this Task Force that’s coming out and saying, “Don’t worry; everything’s fine.” Well I can tell you things are not fine.”

How badly did Trump sabotage America’s coronavirus response? Efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. Neither the NSC nor the DHS epidemic teams have been replaced. Trump said it is no problem; he can get them back whenever he wants them. Can he? The answer is “no” he can’t. In previous administrations people in these agencies would work with and respond to health crises for long periods of time which is essential for a team to work efficiently and trust one another. Drills were done all the time for different case scenarios, much like a fire drill, or sadly active shooter drills, to work out problems when the emergency doesn’t exist so you aren’t having to take time out to fix problems while time is of the essence.

Will this get significantly worse? Dr. McCarthy states (to a question if the numbers are going to get higher): “Absolutely and it is spreading. We aren’t testing at full capacity. We are starting to roll out tests. We are getting more people done.” The interviewer interrupts and says, “So people who are walking around this building who don’t feel so well, and they have it?” Dr. McCarthy responds: “Absolutely; that is a possibility. The concern I also have is that the people who are getting tested, it is a tremendous delay. There is somebody in New York City we think who might have coronavirus. We can’t test them in this city. We send the test to Atlanta, to the CDC; that’s an unacceptable delay. We’ve got to fix that. When you see the testing change to where we can test, at the bedside, which is called point of care diagnostics, that’s when we can actually start to have some certainty about what’s happening. That’s when we are going to start getting real numbers, that’s when the markets are going to stabilize, but until then it’s going to be a guessing game.”

The interviewer asks: “What are the symptoms?” Dr. McCarthy responds: “It’s much like a flu-like symptom. So, you have a runny nose, fever. You’re on the subway and somebody sneezes on you this could ABSOLUTELY spread like crazy. And so, when you have the administration censoring experts, people like Tony Fauci, who is the most respected infectious disease doctor in the country. When I wrote my book, “Superbugs” the first doctor I quote in that book is Tony Fauci. He is no longer allowed to speak freely. He has to clear every scientific statement with Mike Pence and it should be the opposite. Mike Pence should have to clear statements with Tony Fauci and that has to change.”

The interviewer asked what can the media be doing better do to prepare for this: Dr. McCarthy responded: “Asking tough questions.”

Interviewer: “To whom?” Dr. McCarthy: Number One Mike Pence—the buck stops with him. We’ve established the chain of command. I think Trump did the right thing by saying ‘here is the process; I’m putting this man in charge.’ We need to hold his feet to the fire and say 1) drug shortages, medical devices—what’s happening with these things.”

The interviewer: “Your average person doesn’t have access to the Task Force or Mike Pence but you know what they have access to? Social media. Their Facebook page. We already know there is so much disinformation. As it relates to medicine, how do people protect themselves at a time when—the situation around corona for anyone there are more questions than answers, and no doubt people’s Facebook feeds are filled with stuff.”

Dr. McCarthy replies: “What I always say I would never get my medical advice from a stockbroker. I would not go to somebody who is thinking about the stock market or thinking about viewership to get their medical advice. You want to go to medical professionals. I don’t wake up every morning thinking how the markets are going to fluctuate. I’m thinking about how do we to contain this pandemic. And the key here is to get reliable information and it is a mistake to tune into these cable news shows to try to sensationalize things and that’s the problem we have right now.


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