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There are a lot more with coronavirus than you think due to ‘feckless federal response’: Harvard epidemiology professor

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Harvard University epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch warned that there is a significantly larger number of people with the coronavirus or COVID-19 than the public thinks that there is.

In a Washington Post editorial, he sounded the alarm that there must be more testing so that Americans can act with more responsibility and care.

He explained that reporters are all asking the same questions about test kits and isolation, which prompted him to issue a blanket editorial to explain the way things should be moving in an ideal world where the virus is taken more seriously than it currently is.

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“In one respect, the answer is the same for all of them: We must vastly expand our testing capacity,” he wrote. “No country has controlled transmission effectively without massive testing capacity. The United States currently has a sliver of the capacity we need, which is a tiny fraction of that available in other countries. South Korea has performed over 320,000 tests — almost one for every 150 people. That is 30 times the testing per capita that we have done in the United States. Exceptional teams are racing to solve testing bottlenecks at local and state levels — Massachusetts is just one example — filling the vacuum left by the complete absence of federal leadership.”

He said that regulations and technical problems have caused delays but now that we’re past them, there should be mass testing. There isn’t. Now there’s an equipment problem.

“We don’t have enough protective equipment for testers, nor swabs for sampling or reagents to extract genetic material from the virus,” he explained. “We don’t have enough physical test kits, or enough human power to run large-scale testing. The result is that we have no idea how many people are infected with the coronavirus or how fast the virus is spreading.”

When it comes to controlling the country or even a community, he said that isolation continues to be key in stopping transmission and keep from overwhelming our healthcare system.

“Containment can work when there are few enough cases that the public health system is able to deal with them and their contacts, so that the workload is manageable, and when a large fraction of cases are tested and identified, so that preventing them from infecting anyone else dramatically reduces the total amount of transmission,” he explained.

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Of course, things in the U.S. are different from places like Italy and Spain, who have managed to shutdown the entire country.

“The feckless federal response created such delays in testing that most cases here are not being confirmed, even now. We don’t know even approximately how many people are infected, but it’s certainly more than the current count of more than 35,000 confirmed cases. Even though many places are reporting relatively small numbers of confirmed cases, this is not comforting. In many parts of the country, we are seeing rising numbers of flu-like illnesses that when tested, are not flu, and may well actually be covid-19 if only we could test them.”

It’s for this reason that so many epidemiologists believe that the majority of the coronavirus cases are going undiscovered. He said that he doesn’t even believe the U.S. will ever really find all of the cases that exist because it simply can’t get mass testing to happen.

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“If we can scale up testing and reduce case numbers through effective social distancing, we should consider testing very widely and resuming isolation and tracing, which work best in synergy with social distancing,” he encouraged. “For now, testing priority should go to hospitalized patients and health-care workers (to protect them from infecting one another) and to surveillance to estimate the prevalence of mild infection in the community.

Until the U.S. reaches this point, he said that the government will be forced to answer why tests are only available for the sickest of patients.

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Read the full editorial at the Washington Post.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.

Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.

"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."

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John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police

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John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.

It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."

While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."

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Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent

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The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.

The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.

Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/1267291138655956992

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