I tried to write a rational assessment of today’s hearing, but that effort seemed much too polite given the actual proceedings.
What seems clear now is that the government does not know what to do next about COVID. It is whipsawed between being accused of being too restrictive and destroying the economy, or too aggressively reducing restrictions and “killing people.” Neither is true, but given the way this was presented on the “news” tonight, you would have thought that millions of people and millions of jobs died today.
People cannot just sit home for the next 6 months. Unfortunately, that won’t even save lives if we don’t have a drug or vaccine to treat the infection. This is because infections will continue to occur at a lower rate regardless of social distancing. Flattening the infection curve does not change the area under the curve. We need to prevent serious illness and deaths, not infections.
Without some guidance around COVID that is easily communicated and understood, there is a daily reassessment of what is happening driven by narratives around computer death projections or the latest bizarre COVID case report (which is repeated over and over in the “news”). Several of the taskforce members seem overwhelmed by this discourse.
There are clearly political narratives that underlie both sides of this debate, but I will choose to refuse to acknowledge them. Political motivations do not help anything. They just make all this harder.
The fact is that we don’t know exactly what will happen when we fully end social distancing, but we need the courage to make a plan and stick to it. Whether it is administered by states or the feds, slow or fast, we need to stop fighting and make it happen.
The CDC should be leading this effort but seems to have little influence on what happens. Dr. Redfield provides little reassurance that he is in control of any facet of this debate. He seems to have trouble answering almost any question. It is especially disturbing that the CDC’s problematic, contaminated COVID testing program initially undermined the US effort to define and control the pandemic.
If testing is as important as was suggested today, then there needs to be a well-defined plan of whom, when, and how to test. I have yet to hear that, especially from Dr. Giroir. He is responsible for the testing program but seems more focused on promoting himself by spouting off on the “numbers of tests” rather than providing a rational testing plan. Dr. Hahn also holds responsibility here as the FDA allowed COVID tests without any validity into the country. This undermined the public’s trust for the testing process.
Time to move forward. The real question is: who is ready to lead the way?