This is a very good read. It is long, so be forewarned. But it goes into multiple aspects of our failures from the beginning of this global pandemic. They touch on several of the points posters here have made for months now. The “experts” failures in communicating to us about masks. The inability to have efficient testing and contact tracing in place. The diverging messages from our elected leaders and our medical experts and community. I hope people will give this a read and weigh in with their thoughts. We should be better than this. We are America.
The United States has correctly castigated China for its duplicity and the WHO for its laxity—but the U.S. has also failed the international community.
Travel bans make intuitive sense, because travel obviously enables the spread of a virus. But in practice, travel bans are woefully inefficient at restricting either travel or viruses. They prompt people to seek indirect routes via third-party countries, or to deliberately hide their symptoms. They are often porous: Trump’s included numerous exceptions, and allowed tens of thousands of people to enter from China. Ironically, they create travel
The CDC developed and distributed its own diagnostic tests in late January. These proved useless because of a faulty chemical component. Tests were in such short supply, and the criteria for getting them were so laughably stringent, that by the end of February, tens of thousands of Americans had likely been infected but only hundreds had been tested.
Diagnostic tests are easy to make, so the U.S. failing to create one seemed inconceivable. Worse, it had no Plan B. Private labs were strangled by FDA bureaucracy. Meanwhile, Sabeti’s lab developed a diagnostic test in mid-January and sent it to colleagues in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Senegal. “We had working diagnostics in those countries well before we did in any U.S. states,” she told me.
As of early July, one in every 1,450 Black Americans had died from COVID‑19—a rate more than twice that of white Americans. That figure is both tragic and wholly expected given the mountain of medical disadvantages that Black people face.
Rather than countering misinformation during the pandemic’s early stages, trusted sources often made things worse. Many health experts and government officials downplayed the threat of the virus in January and February, assuring the public that it posed a low risk to the U.S. and drawing comparisons to the ostensibly greater threat of the flu. The WHO, the CDC, and the U.S. surgeon general urged people not to wear masks, hoping to preserve the limited stocks for health-care workers. These messages were offered without nuance or acknowledgement of uncertainty, so when they were reversed—the virus is worse than the flu; wear masks—the changes seemed like befuddling flip-flops.
This is the flaw with making science experts spokespeople.
Very few scientists know how to talk to laypeople, so a viscous cycle results
*Scientists intuitively understand the uncertainty that is inherent in science, especially in a pandemic, so they don’t communicate that uncertainty.
*The public at large thinks the latest science is uncertainty-free, so they believe scientists’ declarations, and if reality doesn’t pan out the way scientists declared it would, they start to believe the scientists don’t know what they’re doing. And they trust less and less.
This is the problem in an exchange between someone very knowledgeable and someone for less knowledgeable. The exchange has to happen at the level of the less knowledgeable, or miscommunication happens.
Very astute point. So, what is the solution when the chosen communicators, the elected leaders, cannot comprehend the message the scientists are delivering to them? Or if they do comprehend it, they ignore it and shoot from the hip?
By the end of this month COVID deaths will be the number 3 cause of death for the United States in 2020. Only heart disease and cancer will claim more American lives.
So no, I am not saying we have lost nothing beyond an absurd media hype machine. I’m saying we have lost an unconscionable number of our fellow citizens in the last 5 months, and will continue to lose more and more every single day.