My house smells like bleach. Not crazy bleach, but it just hangs in the air for a while on Saturday mornings.
The rest of the week I hit the contact surfaces in my home a couple times a day. We’ve hunkered down pretty good here at the Pen City Current funhouse.
The world’s new favorite saying, “Flattening the curve” has a different meaning to me. It’s what I’ll have to do after this cabin-fever snack binge I’ve been on subsides.
This week especially has been an interesting week with regard to state reporting on the evil archenemy coronavirus. The Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen have been pushing the Governor hard as to why she hasn’t ordered a shelter in place for the state.
Other outlets have been asking hard questions, too. As a local reporter I’ve relegated myself to reporting on the daily press conferences and tying those to local coronavirus news from schools, cities, health officials, and the county. We think that’s the best way to provide local information to our readers.
We also will not print speculation or rumor. We get the “where-there’s-smoke, there’s-fire” adage, and we could publish some of that – we’ve certainly fielded the calls. But we believe that would throw a wrench into what local health officials are doing to keep the community safe.
We read and hear the complaints that where people work or whether they’ve traveled shouldn’t be protected information. Well, as someone who digs for information on a daily basis, we feel your pain. But HIPAA rules are geared toward keeping patient medical data private.
In a vacuum, yes, that data doesn’t lead to a person, but in this world where the number one form of communication is social media somebody, without a doubt, would be able to assemble the pieces and think they’re doing society a favor by naming the person.
That’s tremendously scary, not only for the person suffering from the disease, but could undermine the very fabric of what our local experts are doing to keep us safe.
This positive that was released Friday afternoon in Lee County should NOT have come as a surprise to anyone, yet many took to social media, many are now hunting for masks, many are screaming for more details.
No. Let these people work, because they are the defined and best equipped people to mitigate these issues. They are doing contact tracing and, according to Michele Ross, the Lee County Health Department administrator, mitigation will come from that investigation and future investigations.
Let them do their work. All health experts have been saying for four weeks to assume it is in your community. If we are heeding that advice, then you are responsible individually for those recommendations. Let them work, and be an ally by doing your part.
But here’s one thing I will say. All metrics and data aside, the Governor hasn’t, in my opinion, ordered a shelter in place because it’s pointless.
What would a shelter in place accomplish? Make people stay home? Only to the extent they don’t need groceries, gas, pharmaceuticals or medical care. Isn’t that already what the state is doing? Essential businesses still stay open under a shelter in place.
Minnesota has a shelter in place order and 80% of the people are still working, according to Reynolds. It would be to hard to prove that isn’t the case right now without the shelter in place.
Also keep this in mind, 92.9% of the people being tested are negative. That doesn’t mean they’re still negative a week later, but that would require another test. Many are screaming for more tests. I’ve spoken with many health officials. I do believe there are people who have this who are home with it and dealing with it, that haven’t been tested.
The sad part is that there are surely sick people at home recovering who in earlier times would be getting treatment. But a positive or negative test on someone who isn’t severely ill and struggling, will not, at this point, change the treatment.
After watching this coronavirus unfold week after week and reading diligently on it, it’s cutting a path through the world, and it’s impact will be felt economically, educationally, politically, and socially for years to come.
We will be changed.
I believe therapies will come soon that reduce the severity – they may not cure COVID-19- but put it back on a level with seasonal flu where the symptoms are treated. Some experts are talking about a combination hydroxychloroquine and a Z-pack showing 7-day results on reducing symptoms. But the FDA hasn’t approved that. I believe the accelerator is fully to the floor on anything that may slow the damage of this virus. Harvesting antibodies is underway in some areas from those who’ve recovered from the virus.
Then….look ahead. I believe you will see educational programs built that will allow literally a one- or two-day transition to distance learning for every student and school in America. I believe that’s being built right now.
I believe we reinvigorate our pandemic response teams. This will happen again, and it will kill more people, but we will be at the ready and quicker to act. State’s will create their own stockpiles so federal shortages won’t impact their response. States may stock up on testing supplies, PPE and other things we’ve found ourselves short of the past four weeks. Or…at least they should.
Health researchers will now begin a new era of ramped up viral combat. State and federal emergency response teams will look at how they can improve. Hospitals will create new viral response protocols. And people, as a whole, will be cleaner and more careful in public. And we’ll all get better at UNO™.
It is tragic. We will get better.
But for now, wash your hands, stay home, call in sick when you’re sick , cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and sanitize contact surfaces regularly.
Then text your friends with a joke, send a crazy emoji, answer the damned lists on Facebook, check on family, and get out a good book. Go for a walk but keep a distance. Be smart and be safe…
… and start planning that monster block party when we can unlock the doors from this bad boy. But that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is co-founder and editor of Pen City Current and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org