The US Virus Problem Is Going From Bad To Worse: But There Is One Bright Ray Of Hope - Testing

Let’s face it. There is a lot about the virus that we do not know. And the politicization of the issues has not helped. But experts I trust (recognizing nevertheless that they might be wrong) fear we are on a bad path that will get much worse before getting better. Dr. Michael Osterholm is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research/Policy at the University of Minnesota and Mr. Kashkari is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. They just laid all this out in an article published in the New York Times. I quote from that article:

We believe the choice is clear. We can continue to allow the coronavirus to spread rapidly throughout the country or we can commit to a more restrictive lockdown, state by state, for up to six weeks to crush the spread of the virus to less than one new case per 100,000 people per day –currently, the US is running at approximately 17 new cases per 100,000 people per day.

The imperative for this is clear because as a nation what we have done so far hasn’t worked. Some 160,000 people have died and more than a third of all US cases occurred in July alone.

And the next six months could make what we have experienced so far seem like just a warm-up to a greater catastrophe. With many schools and colleges starting, stores and businesses reopening, and the beginning of the indoor heating season, new case numbers will grow quickly.

The authors say the US opened too soon and suggest the only way to control the virus is through another lockdown: one with real teeth. To successfully drive down the case rate to less than one per 100,000 people per day, we should mandate sheltering in place for everyone but the truly essential workers. By that, we mean people must stay at home and leave only for essential reasons: food shopping and visits to doctors and pharmacies while wearing masks and washing hands frequently.

They point out:

At this level of national cases we simply don’t have the public health tools to bring the pandemic under control. Our testing capacity is overwhelmed in many areas, resulting in delays that make contact tracing and other measures to control the virus virtually impossible.

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Terrence Howard 1 month ago Member's comment

Testing is key until we can get a vaccine. What's really scary to me is that 1 in 3 Americans say they will refuse to take a COVID-19 vaccine. So even if we get one, and the rest of the world can be saved, America may still go down the gutter because of ant-vaxer nut jobs and their conspiracy theories.

Dick Kaplan 1 month ago Member's comment

Sad but true. It amazes me how so many people will believe anything. And the crazier it is, the more likely some of these people are to believe it. When the truth and the science behind it is so much more believable.

Barry Glassman 1 month ago Member's comment

I agree our only hope is testing, but there must be better, more accurate tests out there.

Charles Howard 1 month ago Member's comment

There are definitely better tests being developed, like the one Ayelet Wolf linked to below. But it sounds like this one is ready now. Who knows how long we'll have to wait for the others.

Alexis Renault 1 month ago Member's comment

Yes, and don't forget, it can be hard to even get the current test and the current test is expensive. This one sounds much better at only $1, much easier to administer, and even if it's only 50% accurate, I've read that the current test is only 70% accurate. Which, while better, isn't so much of a difference.

Angry Old Lady 1 month ago Member's comment

Let me ask you this - if I gave you a 50/50 chance of surviving Covid-19, or a 70% chance, which would you take?

Angry Old Lady 1 month ago Member's comment

I disagree with your assumption that correctly identifying 50% of the population is better than not. Because it would create a situation where half the people who ARE infected, may get a false negative, and instead of playing it safe and staying home (especially if they were showing some symptoms), will instead walk around confidently, and infecting many more than they would otherwise.

Bill Johnson 1 month ago Member's comment

Angry Old Lady, you are correct if that's the case. But I'm not sure if that's what the author meant. Elliott Morss, can you clarify if you meant that it will only be able to correctly identify half the people as infected? Or does that also mean they will only be able to correctly identify the negatives?

In other words, is the failure rate 50% for both positives and negatives? Or only positives?

Ayelet Wolf 1 month ago Member's comment

Very exciting Elliott. Thanks for sharing. But the new 1 second saliva test out of Israel sounds much more promising to me:

But the more available tests the better.

Elliott Morss 1 month ago Author's comment
Andrew Armstrong 1 month ago Member's comment

This doesn't sound very convincing to me at all. I agree the current tests are problematic since they give a lot of false test results and are expensive. More importantly, they are in short supply since they contain some hard to come by components. But a "more than 50%" chance of correctly telling you if you are infected is horrible. How much more than 50%? 51%? You'll have almost as good odds flipping a coin.

Currency Trader 1 month ago Member's comment

Yes, and one of the components that are in short supply are actually cotton swabs. Which this new test still needs.

Adam Reynolds 1 month ago Member's comment

Agreed, we'll need more info - what is the actual false testing rate?

Carol Klein 1 month ago Member's comment

If this test is only accurate 50% of the time, then yes it's a joke and just a way to steal people's money. But if it's closer to 60% and it's really so cheap, then I would think people could take several tests in a row to increase the accuracy.