Test, Test, And Test Some More

Testing is the only way we can rebuild trust in our shattered institutions

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The White House / Public domain

| Laurie Garrett, Author of The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust, in an interview with Michael Judge|

People of all stripes including the President like to talk about opening up the country for business and how the economic cost will be great or perhaps even greater than the loss of human life due to the virus itself. These people are crazy.

No one should listen to them. I repeat, no one. Every single person echoing this sentiment is so far removed from the overwhelming cost that if someone could be convicted of murder for the words they say, this would be a textbook example of it.

This is not to say, that there won’t be an economic cost. Far from it, and it is of paramount importance that the government takes steps to help mitigate it, Long term, the only responsible and ethical way out of the coronavirus quandary is through testing, mass testing on a scale that dwarfs where we’re at now by an order of many magnitudes.

The U.S. has made up some ground in the past few weeks. According to Tyler Sonnemaker, writing for Business Insider, “The US’s testing has ramped up considerably — more than 1.4 million people have now been tested, up from just 135,000 on March 20.” That number as of today sits at a little almost three million.

That may sound like a lot, but comparatively speaking it is a small drop in the bucket of what will be needed to right the ship. The United States tests performed per million people is about 9,000. This number still lags behind many other countries who ramped up testing far more quickly than the U.S.

As a percent, that clocks in at less than one percent of the population being tested. With the average person infected with coronavirus likely spreading to at least five or six other people, it’s hard to imagine that testing just under one percent of the population is sufficient. Everyone needs to be tested. and if they test negative, they need to be tested again over and over.

There are two main reasons why mass testing is our only answer back to something that resembles normal while also avoiding a resurgence of the virus. The first is tracking the virus and the second is trust-building.

Tracking

The more we test the clearer the picture we have the virus becomes. It’ll give us more and more data on how COVID-19 operates, it will help us identify more acutely who is at risk, better inform are response to the virus, and most importantly be able to identify accurately where hot spots are located as well as help with contact tracing.

Right now, the response to infections in the U.S. has been haphazard and blunt. Everything from messaging around the virus to ensuring a constant supply of medical supplies to hospitals and state’s that need them to locking down states has been wildly uncoordinated. The only comparison I can think of is it’s as if a drunk person was swinging a hammer wildly in every direction in order to hit a handful of flies.

Additionally, misinformation is buzzing around the internet muddying up the discussion. If I have to read one more cleaning tip that involves gargling bleach or hear that goods shipped from China are somehow infected, I will lose my mind.

Testing ensures we all have the same data, that data is accurate, and we can make better decisions as a result of it.

Building Trust

The average family with kids and grandparents will be loathe to go to school or a restaurant or even a bar after Trump “opens” the country back up for business. I know I would be. It’ll take a lot of convincing to get most people to accept that the things we used to do are safe. Mass testing will be the most important tool in convincing the public of that fact, not libertarian bros with podcasts or conservative hacks with radio shows telling us to trust them.

I’ve read too many stories on Twitter of loved ones dying suddenly and the family not being able to be in the same room as them as their loved one waste away. It’s heart wrenching. Staying home is the responsible and ethical choice. The burden of proof is on the government to convince us that going out in public is safe.

People need to be shown the data, not bluster.

There is no getting around that. This is how we get back to normal especially while we’re still waiting for a safe, effective vaccine to be deployed, which might take more than a year.

We’ve spent decades trading human life for productivity. You work far harder than you should and get paid far less for it. This is the first time in a long time that you, the worker, wield the power. The secret is getting out that hedge fund managers and investors, CEOs and the stock market aren’t what make the economy run. It’s actually you, the grocery store workers, the retail workers, nurses, doctors, and restaurant workers. You control the power.

Not the radio show hosts or the podcast hosts or journalists or economists or anyone else. They are scared, which is exactly why they are advocating for you to return to work and risk your life to do so. Every person advocating for the economy to open up again is far wealthier than you and far more insulated. Their only worry is waking the sleeping giant. There can be no return to work unless the government certifies that it’s safe through mass testing. A moment to soon and it’s time to talk about a general strike.

If anyone is truly struggling or wants to help, here and here are two resources I’ve found helpful in breaking down the options.

Written by

Highly-rated member of the political bronze league. https://linktr.ee/thevirtualregister

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