First published at TheHill.com on September 1, 2020
For eight months, the U.S. government leaders have operated the machinery of the COVID-19 pandemic following case counts of positive laboratory tests. But, in the middle of a pandemic, case counts are not a representative indicator of infectious disease in a population.
So far, according to the CDC, the United States has seen two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, a larger one in April and a smaller one in July. Hospitalizations, which are roughly proportional to infections, peaked at 10 per week per 100,000 people during the week beginning April 11th fell…
There will be more deaths. On one side America, the statement is an indictment of the hastily made ambitions of the heartless. On the other, it’s a plot for the country’s take-down. In a divided country, no one can offer a middle path.
At Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent Senate hearing, we only heard the party line of the expert consensus. Open only when infections are falling and hospitals are ready. Make decisions place by place. Don’t expect a vaccine. Be prepared for more cases and deaths. The hearing didn’t provide much political ammunition, but it could have offered more perspective.
Originally published @ The Hill
Politicians are not scientists, yet they have promised that their decisions to contain COVID-19 will be based on science, not politics. Is that even possible?
The science of COVID-19 still has more questions than facts. The first models forecasting calamity alarmed us, but their predictions have been way off. Each week brings a new revelation. The first cases arrived earlier than the ones we caught. The number of us infected are orders of magnitude higher than we can count. Ventilators, we are learning, may be harmful. And, though tragically fatal for some, COVID-19 appears to…
Our actions to respond to Covid-19 will have public health winners and losers today and in the future. We each have a responsibility to examine all the risks and have a difficult but necessary public conversation to get the balance right.
By Rajiv Bhatia MD, MPH
If I told one of my patients that quitting her job would save lives, I suspect she’d have some questions. She’d want a lot more facts.
Covid-19 didn’t given us time for much of a public conversation. The restrictions on travel, gathering, and business came swiftly. What was once unimaginable quickly became quickly acceptable.
By Rajiv Bhatia, MD, MPH
Uncertainty and fear are normal, and being precautionary wise, at the beginning of an epidemic. Many are anxious both about exiting “stay-at-home.” But, now that we have some actual experience. There are many reasons to feel more secure.
Every epidemic is local
Most places in the US do not share the characteristics, including, for example, intergenerational households, high population density, and daily public transit use, of the cities where the virus has spread the fastest. What happens in Wuhan, Milan, and New York doesn’t necessarily happen in San Diego, Houston, and Oklahoma City.
On March 19, facing uncertainty as to whether the state’s hospital capacity would meet the needs of the Covid-19 epidemic, the California Department of Public Health ordered everyone in the state to stay home, effectively ending normal economic and social routines. Weeks after that indefinite order, the pace of the epidemic has thankfully slowed, and many hospitals — now retooled to manage increased Covid-19 demand — are well under capacity.
Without either proven pharmacological treatments or an effective vaccine, we’ll be living with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future. California needs…
Rajiv Bhatia, MD MPH
The U.S. failed to test at the scale required for understanding, predicting, and controlling the coronavirus epidemic, and we are living with the consequences. Overwhelmed with the immediacy of hospital demands and struggling with shortages of testing supplies, our doctors and public health officials are still telling us: “We can’t test everyone … just stay home unless you are really ill.” This message is profoundly disconnected from the one coming from most national and international public health experts: “Test every suspected case.”
Once community transmission of coronavirus occurred, authorities told us that it was too late…
We already know that Americans on average are not the healthiest lot. Endless statistics tell us that our life expectancy and our rates of chronic disease lag behind our peer countries. As for those with less — less education, less income, less power, in lower-class jobs, and in the least desirable neighborhoods — health is even worse.
Basically, you die earlier and spend more time disabled if you’re an American rather than a member of most other advanced countries. — Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of WHO’s Global Program on Evidence for Health Policy
After finishing my medical training, I worked at the Tom Waddell Clinic in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. The clinic was free for everyone with no questions asked. In the winter, homeless patients would drop in, telling the nurse they had pneumonia. What most wanted was a note for a week in a residential hotel.
At Tom Waddell, I learned that poverty was physical. I saw how poverty hurt and how it got under the skin. I remember a man who couldn’t get his asthma under control. He had a regular job, understood his disease and took his…
Rajiv is a physician and health scientist working to make basic human needs the foundation for population health improvement.