Essay: Good News Despite the Bad

Mar 31, 2020


We have all made it to the 14th week of WWIII, with no cease fire on the horizon.

By Steve Plotkin

Three themes are reverberating just now regarding the coronavirus, lack of testing, shortage of protective equipment, and shortage of medical ventilators.

Looking backwards, there is now sufficient evidence that the richest country in the world, with abundant scientific and medical specialists, simply squandered a full month in preparation for this devastating pandemic, which is now engulfing major sections of America.

This lost month between late January and early March, left us blind to the tragic health scale now unfolding.  This derailed our best chance at containment, and so now, each day seems to bring news that is worse than the day before. 

There will be epic books written about this.

Setting aside China's questionable veracity, we have finally beat out China and Italy and earned the pandemic Olympics and the world title for casualties in WWIII.   And still, many Americans sickened by the virus cannot get tested.

But with all this, yes Dorothy, there is good news about the coronavirus pandemic, and some good things happening these days.

First, after the disastrous squandering of a month, the USA is finally on a war footing.

American industry has stepped up to manufacture and supply critical items.

Most people with COVID-19 recover.  It is thought that 99% of infected people with the virus will recover, while some will have no symptoms at all.  The overall death rate is projected to be about 1%, far less than MERS or Ebola, but still, ten times higher than the average seasonal flu at 0.1%.

Children seem to be less vulnerable and often and have milder experiences as most infections so far, involve adults.  For kids and their parents, that's good news.

The internet again proves we cannot live without it.  It shrinks our new love affair with social distancing, and preserves social and medical connections, especially during quarantine, or long lock-down days and nights.  Also, our family doctors now have new-found skills as virtual doctors.

For many, ZOOM.US is the new national currency for family teleconferencing, and mental health.

The newly approved federal legislation provides a huge 500-page boost of improvised support systems.

The pandemic has exposed problems in our healthcare delivery systems.   In the future, we can target

a faster global response, focus on distribution of testing kits, and present more reasoned public messages.

Many people and organizations have stepped up to improve the situation.

In the US, for example, major health insurers are covering testing and care for COVID-19 and waiving copays and deductibles. A number of professions have provided resources to help those taking a financial hit by the pandemic.

Each state implemented their own version of social distancing, with accompanying speed bumps and positive results   

Regarding testing, a five-minute, point-of-care coronavirus test could be coming very soon from medical device maker Abbott Labs.  This would be a game changer.

Other companies are rapidly developing quick response testing, taking under an  hour.

Meanwhile, the upcoming celebration of Passover celebrates the biblical Exodus from Egypt, and incorporates the biblical 10 plagues.

It is somehow ironic to celebrate a plague these days, but the good news is that it will be far easier to explain a pandemic to the kids.

But it has to be asked, Who made the Almighty so angry at us? 

Americans have been thru some trying times, and we will get out of this one too.

This is Steve Plotkin