Governor Cuomo visited with President Trump yesterday about the future of New York State’s recovery from COVID 19. Both of these men from Queens, New York, have the toughest job you could ever imagine under worldwide pandemic conditions.
Both must make a public health decision that will impact every person and business under their jurisdiction. Neither of them has any medical education of which I’m aware, so they must rely upon experts in the field to offer them guidance. Ultimately, the decision to reopen business and travel rests with them.
Because each of these men is from opposite political parties, you would think the complaints and compliments about how each of these men is handling the crisis would divide the population along partisan lines, but it doesn’t.
It took a global pandemic to blend new groups of people consisting of GOP, Democrats, and Libertarians, all meeting up at new sub-set intersections. These new groups could be called the fearful and the fearless, or the virus believers and the deniers. The believer group has hunkered down. The deniers are conducting public protests demanding freedom to get our economy going again.
Here’s the scary part, no matter to which sub-set you belong, you better pray and hope the decision to reopen our country is perfectly timed, or we could end up doing this all over again. Not only is the timing important, but so is the location. One size doesn’t fit all for the varying differences in urban downstate compared to sections of rural upstate.
There must be considerations for travel between areas that are open into areas that remain in quarantine. Given our country allows freedom of movement, how a regional opening works is anyone’s guess. We do know many people have died because of COVID 19, and we don’t want to add to those numbers because of impatience. The decision-makers have little margin for error.
It was over 30 days ago the country was put into quarantine because the coronavirus is highly contagious; it would likely kill older people and those afflicted with health problems. As an added fear, there is no vaccination. Authorities told us to hunker down and shelter in place. While we sat at home, we watched the Italian army bury the dead, and we began to hear of the first COVID cases in New York City, which quickly expanded to where we are now.
We are at the point where exhausted doctors, nurses, and scientists are saving the day, so now is not the time for people to get impatient and restless, although it’s hard to blame them. Some people haven’t had a paycheck for weeks. Others have gone to a food pantry for the first time in their lives. A friend said this analogy to me about the recovery timing; “if you parachute out of a damaged airplane at 5000 feet, don’t jump out of the chute at 200 feet thinking that’s close enough.”
Remember a short time ago when everyone was screaming, “We need ventilators!” Now we know they should have included virus testing capacity in their pleas. Laboratories and manufacturers need to mass-produce COVID 19 testing capability the same way they make pregnancy tests available in any drug store.
I’m no doctor, but it seems to me we need two types of tests; we need a blood test for those who may have antibodies indicating they already had the virus and may now be immune. Additionally, we need a nasal swab or saliva test for those we suspect are sick and could spread the virus when they sneeze, cough, and talk.
However, testing and locating contagious people then takes us down another rabbit path known as contact tracing. This is where an Army of public health investigators are needed to reconstruct a virus carrier’s movements to see to whom and where the virus may have spread. Then the health investigators have another list of people to trace backward. This whole thing is mind-boggling, especially when you realize a person who sat at home, isolated for the past month waiting for the all-clear, could leave home for the first time and contract the virus.
Smart minds have to figure a way to separate people who need isolation so that society can get back to work with money flowing again. A plan with constant monitoring and further testing of people to ensure the future spreading of the virus remains minimized. Continuous monitoring is why we need an endless supply of test kits and near-instantaneous results. Until there are a cure and a vaccination, this constant testing could be our new normal. Whatever the plan our leaders choose to implement, when they give the all-clear, the timing has got to be perfect.