With each passing week, we learn more about what works and what doesn’t to contain the Covid-19 contagion, acknowledging that we have far more to learn.
What have we learned?
One. The testing process is going far too slowly in this state and in the country. Bill Gates make the point that we need a self-swab test to achieve the necessary massive level of testing and get health care workers out of the line of fire. He thinks such a test, like an at-home pregnancy test with strips dipped in liquid that show results by color, should be available in a few months.
A vaccine prevention is the best answer, but we can’t wait around while it’s developed.
If we could test often and freely, it would allow people to come to work safely, and it would cut down on the controversial need for masks at work.
A Wisconsin example of self-testing is Cologuard for coloncancer detection. Exact Sciences of Madison hit a home run with that product. From personal experience, it’s easy to use, quick and effective. Exact is helping with Covid care.
Two. Compared to other countries that have contained the virus better than we have, we need an army of people to trace people who have been in contact with an infected person. We have such an army of capable unemployed people. Put them to work. Information technology can help with the tracing, but we still need several hundred thousand of front-line tracers.
Then put the small percentage of contagious people in quarantine for weeks until they are safe. It would be expensive, but far less costly than the subsidies to take are care of 34 million jobless people damaged by the collapse of the economy and by the loss of tax revenues that come from companies and employees at work.
The price tag for the wide-scale testing and tracing would be in the tens of billions versus the trillions of economic damages that we are incurring.
Three. There will always be a small percentage of knuckleheads in our society, the guys who jammed the taverns after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the Gov. Evers orders on closing businesses. It’s sad enough that they are endangering themselves, but it is close to criminal that they are also endangering the people they come into close contact within the bar, at work, in their own homes.
The re-opening of the economy can only happen if the large majority of Americans use their common sense on using all the preventive measures against spreading the very nasty virus. Please don’t wave the American flag if you are one of the blowhards who is endangering the Americans who are close by. It’s not about you. It’s about all of us together.
Note that most bars and restaurants opened cautiously and enacted extreme cleanliness and social distance guidelines. Some haven’t opened at all. Bless them.
Polls show that a big majority of Americans want cautious re-opening, regardless of party.
Let’s take the re-opening step by step and keep a close eye on the health metrics, particularly the number of positive cases, growth in the numbers of tests, percentage of positives among the tested, hospitalizations, deaths and percentage of deaths among the positive cases. We need to see all those metrics moving in the right direction.
To end on a positive note, my wife and I walked with for an hour and 20 minutes on a segment of the Ice Age Train Saturday, and it was uplifting. The dozen or so other hikers and their dogs stepped aside to keep distance, as did we. Best of all was the explosion of Wisconsin’s wild flowers. There are several blankets of Spring Beauties covering hillsides, some lingering Bloodroots, lots of Trilliums, and a sprinkling of Wild Oats, Violets, Marsh Marigolds, Mayapples and Solomon’s Seal.
Tip. Walk with two hiking poles; it’s like a skiing sport; you can move a lot faster without fear of falling on roots or rocks; and you get an upper-body workout.