Anthony Fauci has clearly reached the “hard truths” phase of public messaging, and not a moment too soon if the feds are going to convince people to start isolating themselves. Last night he warned the public that America’s going to look different over the next few months than it usually does. Today he dropped this grim truth bomb in a hearing before the House:
A top federal health official told lawmakers on Wednesday that the coronavirus would continue to spread in the United States, issuing a stark warning: “The bottom line: It is going to get worse,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
He indicated that the National Basketball Association should bar audiences from its games. “We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience as the N.B.A. plays, so be it,” he said.
There’s nothing surprising about that, just like there was nothing surprising about what he said last night. If you’re following coronavirus news, you know the arc the disease is on; of course it’ll get worse, although the rate at which it gets worse is all-important and depends on social distancing. But to hear him putting it explicitly in buckle-up terms is sobering.
Also sobering but not surprising:
Dr. Fauci's response when asked how many people will get and/or die from COVID-19 in the U.S.:
"If we are complacent and don't do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up…many, many millions."
Trump has spent WEEKS downplaying the crisis. pic.twitter.com/yW6DgHeHKs
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) March 11, 2020
Right, that’s exponential growth. If people don’t isolate, the disease doubles every week. We reach millions infected in a few months. If they do isolate — and they’re already doing so to some extent, thankfully — then it slows down. Self-isolation is especially important since there’s evidence that the moment the disease is most contagious is *before* symptoms begin showing.
Research from the scientists at the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology found that transmissions are likely being driven by the coronavirus’ high rate of viral shedding.
This refers to the process of the virus replicating itself and then spreading into other parts of the host’s body or the environment where they could continue the process, early on in infection.
The highest levels of virus were found in the throats of patients in the earliest stages of infection and before they feel unwell, which is when they are most likely to be walking about and coughing, spreading the virus.
In most patients it takes five days to start showing symptoms after the disease is contracted. Anyone who’s waiting to shut down a school or a church — or to bar fans from a farking basketball game — until they see evidence of illness in attendees is waiting too long to slow the spread.
The dopes at MLB are proposing to move games from stadiums in cities where there’s currently an outbreak to cities where there isn’t so that fans can attend. Literally the entire point of scientific messaging about COVID-19 over the past few weeks is that we simply don’t know where there disease is circulating widely and where it isn’t due to the lack of aggressive testing. If a series between the Astros and Yankees is moved from New York to Houston because there are fewer *known* cases in the latter, and it turns out that the illness actually is spreading in Houston unbeknownst to researchers right now, then letting fans into the Astros’ park is an invitation to aggressive community spread.
If we had reliable testing, all of these decisions would be easier. We don’t. We’re flying mostly blind. The government failed. Now we’re stuck in a bunker.
Fauci turned up on Hannity last night and had to address happy-sounding questions about how 99 percent of people will survive and it’s mostly “only” older people who will die. In a better, saner world, he wouldn’t need to spread this message on Fox; Fox, as the president’s loyal mouthpiece, would be in the lead among cable news channels in educating people about the risk from the virus and encouraging mitigation measures they should take. (Tucker has tried to do that a little, to his credit.) The more viewers — especially Fox’s base of very old, at-risk viewers — who take this seriously, the sooner it’s over, the sooner we recover, the better for the country and for Trump’s electoral prospects. Instead the constant temptation among Trump-friendly media is to downplay the disease’s severity lest voters get the impression that the great man hasn’t been up to the challenge and isn’t taking this remotely seriously enough. Newsflash: Americans are going to form their impression of Trump’s performance on this based on the number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths a month or two from now. No amount of happy talk in his tweets or on Fox broadcasts will change that. The only way out is to beat this back.
Here’s Fauci warning Fox viewers that coronavirus is considerably more deadly than the flu (at least 10 times more) followed by CPAC head honcho Matt Schlapp “reasoning” that because no one at CPAC seems to have caught the disease from the infected person who was there it must be “very, very difficult” to get it, totally undermining Fauci’s message. Hopefully Hannity will have Fauci back on again tonight to explain that even if “only” one percent of infected people die, the rate of hospitalizations from COVID-19 is much higher than it is for the flu. Overwhelmed hospitals can’t treat patients — and not just coronavirus patients, all patients. What happens to death rates when the health-care system melts down?
Hannity, who has been downplaying how dangerous coronavirus for weeks now, is reminded by Dr. Anthony Fauci that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is at least 10 times higher than the seasonal flu.
"You gotta make sure that people understand that," he says. pic.twitter.com/6ALFCddC2O
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 11, 2020
Matt Schlapp (who has no medical background): "Coming out of CPAC, one thing we've learned is, even when there's an infected person among thousands, it's very, very difficult to contract this virus."
Actual medical experts say the opposite. pic.twitter.com/oFZCCDPd85
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) March 11, 2020