"What we must do to beat COVID-19 now and forever" by Ed Zotti

These days our former editor is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, his beat being “City at the Crossroads: The trends shaping Chicago, the decisions we must make.”

Usually he writes about topics that do directly shape Chicago, like housing, and taxes, and demographics, and transit, etc. This column has a little wider reach.

What we must do to beat COVID-19 now and forever, with a big boost from technology

your humble TubaDiva

I mean, he’s right. How can anyone deny it?

Sending everyone home is fine… as a temporary measure. It’s also broad and stupid and immensely damaging. Stupid’s better than nothing at first, but we need to get smarter, and contact tracing and targeted isolation is what everyone needs to do. Soon.

Here in Pakistan they send you a text message if you have been within the proximity of anyone with a confirmed or probable COVID19 diagnosis.
Surely the US can do that.

Actually, I don’t know if the US could do that. It might be a violation of patient privacy laws–a violation that could get any entity that did it sued into bankruptcy at some point.

Excellent column. Who would initiate use of this technology in the US? I’m guessing individual states, correct?

We have patient privacy law too. We are not uncivilised barbarians as you seem to think.
And it’s not like they tell you the person’s entire medical history, just enough that you have been exposed.

And I would like to see the lawsuit. Be thrown out of court. These are not ordinary times.

Well, it’s both true, and yet still not very useful. In the end there is no exit plan except for herd immunity, either via vaccine or infection. He is simply positing a different way of managing the parameters of controlled infection. It may be a better way. But that is all there is to it.

Test and quarantine with tracking is great if you think you can actually snuff out the epidemic. But nobody thinks that is possible, with good reason.

I agree herd immunity is the only way out long term. But that’s a couple of years away at best. But, our immediate problem is the lockdown. That has to somehow be eased while managing the inevitable rise in cases.
I wonder if mass PPE is the way to go. Textile makers can produce an eyewatering volume of goods in a relatively short period.

You can’t just hand out PPE - you have to be taught how to use it properly. How to put it on, get a good fit, how to avoid contaminating it, how to properly remove it without contaminating your own self.

The average human being is capable of learning it… but who is going to teach 300+ million people how to do this in a short time frame?

Nice one. Makes me feel part of the big wide world.

I am thinking more about seven billion. There is a world beyond the United States after all.

As it is, not everyone needs a full-on plague suit. Most people will be fine with masks and gloves. Its those in public dealing occupations who will need to be covered most.

Give it in phases. Medical personnel. Then police. Then to the general public, with businesses told exactly which workers need the full treatment and who can make do with less.

What we are doing right now is very quickly going to become unfeasible.

I have a big, bushy beard. Wearing a mask effectively is a challenge.

Shaving it off is exceedingly simple.

Heh. Easier said than done. I’ve considered it, but haven’t shaved since I was a teen.

Yeah, I grew a beard this past January, my first in over 3 decades. Bad timing. Fortunately removal is easy.

Surely Youtube has many good instructional videos on how to properly and safely put on and remove PPE. Our clinic staff has gone through the institutional video reviews already. It is important.

Then change the law.

Not that hard.

Good piece by Mr Zotti.

I’d summarize the needs as follows:

  • better tracing (more trust in government - gasp!)

  • more widespread testing (again, Zotti’s spot on)

  • more techie tools to enforce social distancing (facial recognition technology, camera-generated fines, etc)

  • a more socialized healthcare system and economy – the key!

You cannot control what you cannot identify, you cannot trace when you cannot test. The key to mr Zotti’s outline requires massive amounts of tests. Testing &tracing defines who’s quarantined. It will take a massive amount of tests, but it is the only way to control this before widespread vaccines are available, other than just letting it run and call it herd immunity. Some people seem to not realize that testing, tracing and quarantine need not be perfect. It just needs to bring the average rate of infection from carriers down below 1.0.

I agree that some kind of public care option would be a good thing.

However would you trust the current administration to run any such thing?

I don’t know the answer. My health insurance company is a rolling disaster, I certainly don’t like them being in charge of my health care, at all turns they optimize for profit over actual results. I don’t think the current administration would do any better though.

As Weird Al once put, “I don’t know whether to shoot myself or go bowling.”

An intelligent article written by an intelligent man. More testing is an absolute must, as is wider health care coverage in the US. Technology offers much promise, and government plays an important role in health. It would be great if both technology firms and governments had been consistently honest, trustworthy, user focused, secure, intelligently regulated and were broadly believed to act with the utmost integrity.