Policy in the Time of Corona: A Correction!

Since writing the following post, I’ve come across important information from the New York Times (Younger Adults Make Up Big Portion of Coronavirus Hospitalizations in U.S.) suggesting that critical illness, irreparable damage to the lungs, and even death can occur among adults of any age.

Therefore my policy suggestion to allow low-impact healthy people to acquire natural immunity to the new Corona virus while protecting high-impact (relatively high-risk of death) people until a vaccine or other treatment can be discovered, tested, and distributed to all is not viable and might lead to disastrous results as in Italy and the UK.

These are the facts so far:

  1. All adults are at risk of becoming critically ill or dying.
  2. The risks are even greater for people 70+ years old.
  3. People with coronary problems, diabetes, cancer, and/or smokers are more at risk than people 70+ years old.
  4. The rate of infection from Covid-19 (Coronavirus) doubles every 2-3 days. In the numbers will seem insignificant, then a week or two later the numbers will leap frighteningly until half the population are infected and then the infection rate will continue to grow but more slowly until it finally runs its course.
  5. It takes 2-14 days before a person infected by Corona begins to show symptoms. That means a person may think he is healthy but directly or indirectly infect people for up to 14 days before he knows he is sick. That’s up to 16,384 people.

“Until the virus runs its course” means until a treatment is discovered, tested, produced, and distributed to the population or until 66-70% of the population has been infected.

The following are the policies or strategies different countries have adopted to deal with Corona:

  1. Shutdown all business and services but the ones we can’t live without and order all people to stay at home. What about the homeless? This is not a viable long-term strategy: big and small businesses will bankrupt, most people will be unemployed, and government services will break down at all levels. People will panic.
  2. Close off all borders (air, sea, and land): first national, then state, then city, and then neighborhoods. People may resist or attempt to sneak through.
  3. Ensure hospital staff and service providers have adequate protective gear (biohazard suits, gloves, and N95 masks). If doctors or nurses become infected, they won’t be able to treat the influx of patients. Patients and their families will panic.
  4. Make sure hospitals are equipped with enough isolation rooms, beds, and respirators to handle the leap in numbers of infected populace who cannot self-medicate or are critically ill. Otherwise, staff will have to decide which patients to treat. Italy didn’t have enough respirators, so they had to take them from older patients and give them to younger patients. The older patients died without the respirators.
  5. Test hospital staff and service providers for Covid-19/Corona. How often?
  6. Test people who were quarantined for Covid-19/Corona to determine whether they can be released.
  7. Test the general population for Covid-19/Corona. How often?
  8. Test people who think they might have Corona symptoms.
  9. Same as #1 but make it voluntary instead of mandatory. Try to “flatten the curve” by slowing down the rate of infection in the population by increasing the stringency of policy measures over time. This might allow the government, hospitals, and critical services to ramp up their resources in time for the inevitable onslaught of infected people, but only if the government, hospitals, and critical services utilize that time and not just “buy time”.
  10. Same as #2 but monitor movements rather than controlling them.
  11. Do nothing about it. Try to cover it all up. China did that from November 15 until December 30. The truth will out. People will stop answering the phone. Bodies will start piling up in the streets.


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2 responses to “Policy in the Time of Corona: A Correction!

  1. I agree 1 is untenable for too long. 9 might work, but we need readily available tests so we know who’s healthy and who needs to stay quarantined. No easy answers.

    Let’s hope the infection rate does down soon, and doesn’t spike again if the measures are loosened.

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