COVID-19: Administration failures are catastrophic

COVID-19 virus deaths have risen from 56 to more than 2,600 in one month

COVID-19 - Image from the CDCThe COVID-19 (Wuhan) virus has taken more than 2,600 souls, so far. Almost 80,000 are infected. Since COVID-19 grabbed the world’s intention, a great deal of data has been collected. However, much about the virus remains unknown, including critical details needed to fight the disease.

COVID-19 is a coronavirus. It’s zoonotic, meaning it initially developed in animals such as bats, pigs, and small mammals. Unfortunately, it mutated and jumped from animals to humans. Now the virus’ infection is spreading human to human. MERS and SARS are also coronaviruses.

Publisher note: Due to the changing nature of this threat check the Centers for Disease Control Site for the latest information.

Older adults, particularly men, are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19

Both adults and children have been infected. However, older people, particularly men, those with compromised immune systems and respiratory illnesses, plus those already otherwise sick are the most vulnerable.

The disease spreads through respiratory droplets, via coughing, sneezing or speaking. Contact with infected saliva or through close personal contact via hand touching or touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes, can infect people.

No one yet knows if COVID-19 is transmitted through the air. But the rapid spread of the virus in the Diamond Princess cruise ship raises that possibility. Right now, medical authorities just don’t know.

We know that patients displaying COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath are infectious. Whether or not the virus can be transmitted asymptomatically is unknown. A study that concluded it was proved to be seriously flawed. Other reports of asymptomatic transmission remain unconfirmed.

COVID-19’s mortality is less than SARS, but the number of those infected is already 10 times SARS

Click here to subscribeThe COVID-19 mortality rate is approximately 3.3 percent, less than a quarter of SARS, but COVID-19 infections are far more easily transmitted than SARS. It took SARS nine months to infect about 8,000 people while COVID-19 has infected almost 80,000 in five fewer months. Ann Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director at the CDC, is seriously concerned by the transmission speed of COVID-19.

No one knows how long COVID-19 can remain infectious on contaminated surfaces. Researchers studying SARS, another coronavirus, are concerned because SARS can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for as long as nine days.

While vaccines are under development, no drugs or vaccines specifically designed to treat or prevent COVID-19 are available now.

Government officials may be underestimating the quarantine period needed to ensure public health safety.

Currently, government health officials have pegged the COVID-19 incubation period as no more than 14 days. That may be a problem. Mercy College Professor of Epidemiology, Statistics, Research, and Mental Health, Rossi A. Hassad PhD, MPH, says we can’t just look at the incubation period. The latent period must also be included. With uncertainty growing, he’s suggesting that health authorities should consider increasing the quarantine period to 21 days.

When the Diamond Princess docked at Yokohama, only 10 people on board were infected with COVID-19. The passengers were isolated in their cabins, but the crew continued to work, make, deliver and clean up from meals for passengers, etc.

The problem with the quarantine was that the passengers were never actually isolated. They had regular, though mostly indirect, contact with the crew, some of whom were infected. In addition, the ventilation systems were shared between cabins with filters that likely can’t filter out COVID-19 if the virus can be transmitted by air.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was interviewed. He said, “The quarantine process failed.” Aboard the cruise ship, 634 are confirmed to be infected (17 percent) and three have died of the virus.

The NIH says the Diamond Princess quarantine was a failure

How to Sail Happy DownloadThe Trump Administration should have negotiated with the Japanese government to evacuate every American from the ship shortly after it docked in Yokohama. The Americans should have been flown under full medical supervision to the U.S. Placing these evacuees in a land-based medical quarantine facility could have actually isolated patients. This action may have prevented much or all of the spread of the disease.

When the Trump Administration finally evacuated Americans back to the U.S., the CDC was adamant that COVID-19-infected Americans shouldn’t be transported with uninfected Americans. Yet, Trump political appointee Robert Kadlec M.D., MTM&H, M.S., assistant HHS secretary, a career physician and officer in the U.S. Air Force, with the U.S. State Department, overruled the CDC, the U.S.’ primary public health agency. Infected passengers flew with uninfected passengers with only a plastic sheet between them. It will be weeks or longer before we know how bad Kadlec’s mistake is. Whatever happens, he broke the word of U.S. officials who promised infected passengers wouldn’t fly with uninfected passengers.

Trump Administration officials continue to follow the 14-day incubation period, not the more conservative 21 days now being suggested by some physicians. That means Americans are being released from quarantine before we can really trust that contact with them is safe.

The Trump Administration gets a COVID-19 failing grade

The Trump Administration gets a failing grade for its COVID-19 decisions because:

• The Diamond Princess quarantine and passenger evacuation was too little, too late.

• Trump Administration political officials overrode the nation’s top public health experts.

• COVID-19 quarantines are for the shortest time possible rather than the most conservative safe time.

American lives are at stake

The Trump Administration must stop playing COVID-19 politics. They must follow the lead of public health experts, not political appointees. With so much unknown about COVID-19, a scientifically conservative approach is the only one that makes sense.

More stories on Travelers United blog about COVID-19:
Wuhan: more deaths, some progress, stupidity, malware, and fraud
Wuhan: flawed data, missteps, overreaction and death