Get serious, people. That’s the message that Surgeon General Jerome Adams told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Today about the coronavirus and the need to slow its roll across America. “We don’t want Dallas, or New Orleans, or Chicago to turn into the next New York,” Adam said, pressing home the urgency of staying at home rather than congregating in public. “This week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams warned about the rate of contagion in the second half of the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” effort:
“I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams said in an interview on the “TODAY” show.
The disease is spreading, he said, because many people — especially young people — are not abiding by guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing.
“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said.
Adams said that young people are flocking to the beaches in California and people are still heading to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to view the cherry blossom trees that bloom each year. He warned that young people need to understand that they can contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and they can be hospitalized and potentially die from it.
“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no test. We need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else, stay at home,” he said.
“I hear the urgency in your voice,” Guthrie remarks, but then presses Adams on an overnight tweet from Donald Trump. The president appeared to strongly hint that he would call for an end to shelter-in-place orders at the end of the 15-day period:
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
Adams replies that the 15-day period was initially launched to prevent a massive spike as seen in Italy, in the hope that it would “instill a sense of urgency across America.” Unfortunately, the mitigation measures haven’t been universally adopted, Adams explains, which is why next week will get bad, and likely the week after that even worse now. “Every single day counts, every single second counts,” Adams says, which is why all people “need to act as if they have the virus right now” and stay in self-quarantine as much as possible.
Was Trump serious about the cure being worse than the disease? James Pethokoukis thinks so, and also thinks it’s a valid concern. The rapid destruction of a national economy has health implications of its own, which means that this requires a series of trade-offs. If we can avoid outstripping hospital resources to deal with the worst cases, then we should think about reopening businesses:
I don't know what the right amount of quarantine time is. But a liquidation of the US economy also has health consequences, both long and short. We can't pretend there are no trade-offs. https://t.co/Tr4j0UHzqs
— James Pethokoukis (@JimPethokoukis) March 23, 2020
Fine and dandy, says radiologist (and Hot Air reader) Pradheep Shanker. But let’s establish that we know the scope of the outbreak and whether we can contain the worst-case response:
True. That is why the rapid stimulus is necessary.
My plan, in general?
1. Can stop 'shelter in place' when and if we can do rapid, widespread testing, AND monitor/quarantine positive patients.
2. Once that occurs, slowly let states decide to remove restrictions.
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) March 23, 2020
This is why the lack of testing development early on matters. We are still flying blind on the scope of the problem. How many people have coronavirus? Who develops the symptoms, and why? What is the overall mortality rate, and what is the expected hospitalization rate? More data on those questions is coming in now, but until we institute widespread testing — or at least large-sample random testing of populations around the US — we don’t know the amplitude on any of those questions for certain. Until we know that, we can’t know whether the cure is worse than the disease.
At the end of this fifteen-day period, expect another 15-day period to be announced. That will be easier to swallow if the bailout and stimulus packages get through Congress. At the end of thirty days, however, pressure might get too high to reopen even with those bailouts in hand. And by that time, in all likelihood, it may not matter in terms of spread any more, especially with idiots still piling onto beaches and into cherry-blossom parks. Get serious, people.
Addendum: Lindsey Graham wants Trump to err on the side of containment:
President Trump’s best decision was stopping travel from China early on.
I hope we will not undercut that decision by suggesting we back off aggressive containment policies within the United States.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 23, 2020
It’s actually more up to the state governors than it is to Trump anyway, but tone and message matter. It’s easier for governors to keep containment policies in place when Trump offers public support for them.