It’s been a week full of press conferences, press releases and literally a minute-by-minute news cycle.
I’ve said many times it’s scary but a bit fascinating to watch how this virus, which Lee County Supervisor Rich Harlow suggested may have been started by Chinese people eating a contaminated bat, has changed the world as we know it.
R.E.M wrote those very words in 1987 and people took it to mean the world was ending, but that’s not meaning the grammar intends. Whatever the intentions of Michael Stipe’s lyrics….I do feel fine…today anyway.
The world “as we know it” has been changed, and to what extend those changes hang on after this virus subsides is to be determined by the world’s seven billion people.
Will hand sanitizer and the myriad of disinfectants become the norm? Will the world be a more sanitized place? Will ‘self-distancing” become an accepted word in the Webster world? Maybe. But what effect will that have on our health? Don’t we have good bacteria on our hands as well. What about great-grandma’s theory that being around people who are sick, builds our immunity?
Who knows. I just don’t want this cold to be here. We’ve hunkered down pretty good here at Pen City Current. I’m actually enjoying the telemeetings. I can write as they talk and it saves me time. I can also dress in Minnesota Vikings gear and work subliminally on their sports-deprived minds.
But for each one of these I participate in I see a group of people whose concern for ‘self-distancing’ is only outweighed by their passion for protecting their county, communities, schools, businesses and cities.
There’s a wide range of benefits being extended to public and private employees through the level-headed thought processes of those in charge. But those in charge of Iowa’s health care, are taking a different approach than others in the crosshairs of the national media.
This week officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health said the state has currently on hand 400 tests, not daily tests, but 400 tests TOTAL as of Friday.
We’ve had calls here at Pen City Current from people who say that can’t get tested for the virus and are being sent home. We called both the Lee County Health Department and Fort Madison Community Hospital, who both said that isn’t true.
However, the state, through press conference held from the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, is being very clear that you will only be tested if you require hospitalization, and those with mild symptoms should basically stay home and ride it out.
With more than 3 million people in the state, 400 tests is a scary, scary position to take when more tests are clearly available. So we believe its a safe assumption that the state is mandating serious screening measures before swabbing a person who genuinely is sick. But with what illness?
The Des Moines Register ran a story this week on this very issue and interviewed three or four people and families who couldn’t get tested. What the report failed to mention, in my opinion as I read the article twice – I don’t think one of those interviewed for the story actually tested positive for the virus at any point in their struggle with health clinicians.
So does that empower the state to believe they are doing the right thing by almost completely relying on the standard talking points of washing hands, not touching the face, and staying home if your sick? Maybe.
But the risk they run is alienating the public in general…and more importantly an election looming in November.
So, after listening to all of these press conferences a couple things are very clear as of Saturday at 10:30 a.m.. If you are sick, you will not get a test until health clinicians believe you need to be hospitalized…or if your private physician authorizes a test. But with medical facilities under an unprecedented change of focus and severely strained resources, it may be difficult to get in to see your physician. And if you do, that cost will be on you and your insurance company, not on the state.
The other thing is that Iowa is conducting itself independent of other state and federal moves, including the statewide shutdown just to the east of us.
But will Iowa come out as the state that didn’t overreact and came out better than most? That could be the case, but most federal epidemiology experts are saying at this point it’s better, in this particular situation, to overtest, to aid in isolation efforts and stem the tide.
Iowa’s chief epidemiologist, also the state medical director, Dr. Caitlin Pedati is saying self-distancing, hand washing, not touching your face, staying home if your sick, and calling-before-going medical advice, is sufficient…at this point.
The state has obviously taken unprecedented steps to help its residents from unemployment, to paid sick leave, to small business incentives, and extending deadlines in every single aspect of our regulated lives. Yet the optics are that we are pushing our resident away when it comes specifically to this virus.
The result of that remains to be seen, but it’s no stretch to say this tactic is high risk at what reward? We look smarter than everyone else? Are the tests extremely expensive and causing the state of Iowa to not want to purchase more as a cost savings measure? What’s the reason?
If state health officials don’t think that most people actually have the virus, isn’t it better to be able to provide that data, or are we afraid of the other side of that scenario, where more people have it than we want to admit?
All important questions, but for the time being we’re at the state’s mercy of these tests. All I have to say to that is….
Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay home if your sick, try to self distance, and call before you seek medical care if you think you have the virus.
This virus has obviously created some home time for most of us. Personally, we’ve turned to Euchre and cooking just to get away from the television, but I think I’ve found the best show we weren’t watching. Miracle Workers on TBS. The show features a very funny – and so-not Harry Potter – Daniel Radcliffe, and Steve Buscemi. Don’t watch with the kids. It’s a bit rough. But that’s Beside The Point.