Dr. Fauci briefs America about COVID-19

Summary: The COVID-19 crisis tests affected nations. It tests America as it has not been for generations. It shows our strengths and weaknesses, giving a picture of our ability to prosper – and perhaps even survive – the greater challenges that lie ahead in this century. Clear vision is the first step, which is why briefings like this by Dr. Fauci are essential. Otherwise, we will be lost in a sea of misinformation.

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The media (the press and others) each day flood America with trivia about COVID-19. Some true, some exaggerated, some fiction – with essential data and insights mostly lost in the flow. The most exciting stories propagate the fastest, and we become more ignorant – less connected with reality – as the epidemic rages on. The misinformation is a failure of our ability to Observe. The resulting confusion and ignorance is Disorienting (a failure of Orientation). So of course our ability to collective make effective Decisions is diminished. Our ability to effectively Act degrades. This is our OODA loop in action, describing America’s ability to respond collectively to a crisis.

A fast effective OODA loop makes a powerful nation. A broken one makes a weak nation, no matter how many tanks we have. No matter how much gold we have in Fort Knox.

The first step is to find useful sources of information. Unfortunately, these tend to become rarer as a crisis runs on. For example, the daily WHO briefings no longer say much. Experts and officials become more cautious in what they say. But there is good material out there. Such as this transcript of CNN’s Jake Tapper interview of Dr. Anthony Fauci on March 29 (slightly paraphrased for clarity). Fauci is the Director of the National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force.

This is one of the best briefings I have seen about COVID-19 in the US. Unfortunately, that’s a low bar. Clear and fequent communication to the public of the situation and responses is an essential element of crisis management. There has been little of it so far in America.

Tapper: Dr. Fauci, it’s always good to see you. I want to ask you about the latest development, the CDC {said in their March 17 press release} …

“Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.”

This came after President Trump considered an enforceable quarantine, as he put it, for those states. So, why did the administration go with this travel advisory instead? And will this help stop the virus?

FALUCI: I think it ultimately will help stop the virus, Jake. We had very intensive discussions last night at the White House with the president. As you know, the original proposal was to consider seriously an enforceable quarantine. After discussions with the president, we made it clear, and he agreed, that it would be much better to do what’s called a strong advisory. And the reason for that is that you don’t want to get to the point where you’re enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal.

One of the issues is that about 56% of all of the new infections in the country are coming from the New York City area. That’s terrible suffering for the people of New York, which I feel myself personally, as a New Yorker. So what was trying to be done is to get all nonessential travel to just hold off, because what you don’t want is people traveling from that area to other areas of the country, and inadvertently and innocently infecting other individuals.

We felt the better way to do this would be an advisory, as opposed to a very strict quarantine. And the president agreed. And that’s why he made that determination last night. And I believe he tweeted it out last night.

TAPPER:  So, Dr. Fauci, the U.S. now has the most officially reported coronavirus cases on the entire globe. Of course, that requires that you believe all the other countries reporting, including China. But let’s just for now assume that the U.S. numbers are the largest. Do you believe that the U.S. is now the epicenter of this outbreak?

FALUCI: It’s certainly is the focus of what’s going on right now. We have a very difficult problem here. We have areas of the country, such as the New York area.

We have places like Detroit and other cities starting to get into trouble, where the curve did what exactly I said on this show and other shows some time ago. It putters along a while, and then it just goes way up. And when it does that, you’re really in full mitigation. It’s very difficult to do containment.

We want to strongly do mitigation in those areas like New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area, at the same time that we don’t neglect other areas of the country, where it looks like there are just relatively few infections, because we have a window of opportunity there, as Speaker Pelosi said, to get out there and test. If we do testing, identification, isolation, getting people out of circulation who are infected, and contact tracing, we might be able to prevent those areas from getting to that stage where we’d have to do mitigation, which is much more than difficult and much more frustrating than trying to contain.

TAPPER:  Dr. Deborah Birx {response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force) said yesterday, as you know, that she doesn’t think any city will be spared from this virus. {See her interview on “Meet the Press.”} How many cases do you think the U.S. will reach? A million cases, 10 million cases? Or do we not even have any idea?

FAUCI: You know, Jake, the honest — to be honest with you, we don’t really have any firm idea. There are things called models. And when someone creates a model, they put in various assumptions. And the model is only as good and as accurate as your assumptions. And whenever the modelers come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario.

Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I have never seen a model of the diseases that I have dealt where the worst-case scenario actually came out. They always overshoot. So, when you use numbers like a million, a million-and-a-half, two million, that almost certainly is off the chart. Now, it’s not impossible, but very, very unlikely. So, it’s difficult to present.

I mean, looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths. We’re going to have millions of cases. But I don’t think that we really need to make a projection, when it’s such a moving target, that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people.

What we do know, Jake, is that we got a serious problem in New York, we have a serious problem in New Orleans, and we’re going to be developing serious problems in other areas. So, although people like to model it, let’s just look at the data of what we have, and not worry about these worst-case and best-case scenarios.

TAPPER: Dr. Fauci, we’re about to hit the last day of the 15 days to flatten the curve. Everybody watching at home wants to know how long you think it’s going to last. What steps does the United States need to take right now in order to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel? And when might that be?

FAUCI: I want to see a flattening and a turning down to the curve. So, if somebody asked me a question, what about New York, should we be pulling back on New York, obviously not. New York is doing this. New Orleans is doing this. When we start to see a daily number of cases, instead of increasing and escalating, they start to flatten out, turn the corner and then start coming down, when we see that, then you could start doing the modification of the intensity of your mitigation.

As I have said before, it’s true the virus itself determines that timetable. You can try and influence that timetable by mitigating against the virus, but, ultimately, it’s what the virus does.

When I start seeing this happen, then I will come back on the show and tell you that I think we’re at that point now where we can start pulling back a little, but not right now in several of the places that I just mentioned.

TAPPER: Well, there’s this discussion out there about loosening the social distancing guidelines in some parts of the country. CNN is reporting that some federal health officials are preparing a recommendation where some parts of the country will be able to open schools and open businesses. I hear that. Then I hear what you’re saying – that there are these hot spots that we know of, New Orleans, New York – and that we don’t really have an idea of where other hot spots might be.

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: You just agreed with what Speaker Pelosi said. Because of the lag in testing, there could be hot spots in all sorts of cities that we don’t know.

FAUCI: Right.

TAPPER: So, what do you think about the recommendations that some parts of the country might be able to loosen the guidelines, given the fact that we, at least according to you, don’t even know where these next hot spots will be?

FAUCI: Great question, Jake. If you look at an area, any area – take one that has moderate degree of activity – you can’t just empirically say, I’m going to loosen restrictions there. You can do it, but you absolutely must have in place the capability of going there, testing, testing in an efficient way. Not take a test, come back five days later, and find out if you’re infected. But testing, knowing in real time if a person is infected, and then getting them out of circulation. And contact tracing. Because if you release the restrictions before you have a good eyeball on what’s going on there, you’re going to get in trouble.

I’m not against releasing the restrictions. I’m actually for it in an appropriate place. But I don’t recommend it unless we have the tools in place in real time to do the things I just said. If we can do that, we can keep things contained without slipping into the need of having to mitigate, the way they are in New York and New Orleans and other places now. So, it’s doable, but it’s only doable if you put the tools in place.

TAPPER: Do we have those tools? Vice President Pence said that there had been more than 600,000 tests across the country, which is certainly an improvement from where we were a month ago. But there are 330 million Americans. How many tests need to be done before you will feel comfortable knowing where the hot spots are, so then some restrictions can be loosened in the future?

FAUCI: Jake, I don’t think it’s quantitative – how many tests you need. I mean, obviously, you want to get tests out there that one can get a test easily, in real time, with a result right away. If you compare a couple of weeks ago to where we are right now, we have an amazingly larger number of tests than we had before. But what I want to see and I want to be satisfied is that those tests are being implemented on the ground where we need them. That’s the connection I want to make sure, not just tests out there, but are the tests being able to be implemented?

If we can do that, Jake, I think we could reasonably, with the safety of the American people in mind, pull back on some of the restrictions. But you got to have all the players and all the material in place. That’s what we’re trying to do.

TAPPER: Right, but it doesn’t sound like those tools are in place right now?

FAUCI: You know, Jake, in some places, they are, and, in some places, they’re not. We have to be honest and realistic, because you go to a place, and people say, I still can’t get testing as quickly as I want to. But that situation is being less and less common as the days and weeks go by, because the more we’re hearing of people who maybe could not get tests before are getting them now.

It still is not a perfect situation, because I’m sure people will be calling up and saying, I needed to get a test, and I couldn’t get it. Hopefully, that’s much, much less frequently than we saw a week or two ago.

TAPPER: When do you think you will be comfortable with the amount of testing being present, so that restrictions can be lifted in some parts of the country?

FAUCI: I think it’s going to depend a lot on the availability of those rapid tests that you can get really quickly, 15 minutes or so, where you will know right away. So that when you identify someone who’s infected, that person doesn’t go out into society for a few days, infect a bunch of people, and then you bring them back because the test is positive. When we get those tests, then I think we’re going to be closer. To put a time on it, Jake, I don’t know. It’s going to be a matter of weeks. It’s not going to be tomorrow. And it’s certainly not going to be next week.

I think {answers} the question you asked me. When are we going to get that material, those tests, and the PPEs and other things that people can utilize with that? When we get it out there, that’s when we’re going to be able to do what you’re talking about.

TAPPER: What you’re saying makes it very clear that, when the 15 days to flatten the curve campaign is up – and that will be over early this week – you don’t think that we’re ready to lift guidelines yet?

FAUCI: We’re going to obviously seriously discuss and consider that. My own opinion, looking at the way things are, I doubt if that would be the case. But we’re a group. We’re a task force. We’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk about it. But, obviously, what you see me describe, it’s a little iffy there. So we will take it as it comes. We will look at it. And if we need to push the date forward, we will push the date forward.

TAPPER: Governor Cuomo has been talking about needing 30,000 ventilators. They’re not using them right now, but he says that his experts are telling him that he needs to prepare for that. Do you have any reason to doubt that 30,000 ventilators for New York is what his health officials are recommending?

FAUCI: You know, there’s a lot of different calculations. In my experience, I tend to believe Governor Cuomo. There are some that say there are ventilators that are there in a certain place that’s accessible. We just need to connect the dots to get them accessible. So, there are two issues here. Are there ventilators there that you can use that you need better access to? And, if so, get them. If not, then give them to him.

One way or the other, he needs the ventilators that he needs. Hopefully, we will get him the ventilators that he needs. They may be closer to him than is realized. But if they’re not, we will get them there. And if they are, we will try to help him get access to the ones that are there. Bottom line, he’s got to have the ventilators, period.

TAPPER: Last question for you, Dr. Fauci. I have to ask you about something that the president said at his press conference on Friday. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: “When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA, it’s not right. I say, Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan. You know what I say? If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

TAPPER: Dr. Fauci, can you assure the American people that whether or not they get the help they need from the federal government, it does not depend on whether their governors are appreciative enough of the federal help or flattering enough of the Trump administration?

FAUCI: No, Jake, I think the reality, not the rhetoric, but the reality is that the people who need things will get what they need. I know the spirit of the task force, and when people need things, it doesn’t matter who they are. We try to get them what they need.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Fauci, God bless you. Thank you so much for all the work you’re doing. We really appreciate it.


A reminder of the key fact

Epidemics, depressions, and wars are natural aspects of life. If we become weak, one of these ills eventually will destroy our society. For America to survive, each of us must stay connected and committed to our communities and nation. As the Director-General of WHO has said since the beginning, we can survive this well if we support each other. We have the resources. We need only the standard virtues of compassion and courage plus some wit and willpower.

It’s easy to follow the COVID-19 story

The World Health Organization provides daily information, from highly technical information to news for the general public. These are the best sources of information.

Also, see the wealth of information at the CDC website, especially their situation reports.

Posts about effects of COVID-19

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a powerful and disturbing story about “Birth of a Man of Steel …for the Soviet Union.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also, see these posts about epidemics…

  1. See the ugly cost of the next big flu pandemic. We can do more to prepare.
  2. Stratfor: The superbugs are coming. We have time to prepare.
  3. Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2009 swine flu in America.
  4. Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2015 ebola epidemic in America.
  5. ImportantA vaccine against the fears that make us weak.

A medieval city defeats a plague

Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City
Available at Amazon.

Florence Under Siege:
Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City

By John Henderson (2019), professor of Italian renaissance history at U of London.

I strongly recommend reading this fascinating review of it in the London Review of Books, with its great excerpts. From the publisher …

“Plague remains the paradigm against which reactions to many epidemics are often judged. Here, John Henderson examines how a major city fought, suffered, and survived the impact of plague. Going beyond traditional oppositions between rich and poor, this book provides a nuanced and more compassionate interpretation of government policies in practice, by recreating the very human reactions and survival strategies of families and individuals.

“From the evocation of the overcrowded conditions in isolation hospitals to the splendor of religious processions, Henderson analyzes Florentine reactions within a wider European context to assess the effect of state policies on the city, street, and family. Writing in a vivid and approachable way, this book unearths the forgotten stories of doctors and administrators struggling to cope with the sick and dying, and of those who were left bereft and confused by the sudden loss of relatives.”


31 thoughts on “Dr. Fauci briefs America about COVID-19”

  1. People are in fear due to the large number of newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients. This fear demands an explanation.
    Very infectious diseases will spread rapidly. This is mathematically represented in the RO number. The RO number, also called the reproduction number, denotes how fast an infectious agent spreads to new people w/o immunity.
    The morbidity number denotes the number of people who are infected that manifest symptoms.
    The mortality number, is the number of people that succumb to a disease they have contacted.
    All of these numbers ARE DIFFERENT & are dependent on data collection & how good the data is.
    The RO value for Covid-19 is PRESENTLY 2.2. That means that an infected person will infect @ 2.2 others, whereas the Flu has an RO value of 1.3.
    The morbidity of Covid-19 is approximately 15-20%, that means that 15-20% of people with the disease will exhibit symptoms (mild to severe). Not all w symptoms require hospitalization.
    Currently the mortality rate in the US is approximately 1.5% and in the World @ 4.4 %.
    These numbers will change as times goes on, as we test more, as we learn more @ the biological behavior of the virus & as we learn to treat it. The creation of herd immunity & a vaccine will make big changes on these numbers.
    Thus more people infected only denotes 2 things: how infectious the virus is and how aggressively we are testing. This is independent, though related, to morbidity & mortality.
    Hope this helps and decreases y’all’s fear!
    Stay healthy & adhere to the CDC guidelines.

    1. Rene,

      Thank you for the briefing. Note, however, that all of that has been repeatedly posted here from briefings by WHO and CDC. But this statement is something different:

      “People are in fear due to the large number of newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients.”

      How many people are “in fear” to any substantial degree? I don’t see much fear. Much of the public debate discusses whether the response measures are excessive.

      As for the number of cases, that depends on the metric used. The growth rate is high – but the number of cases is microscopic in the US population. In affected clusters, medical facilities are under pressure or worse – but that is still a small fraction of the US.

      Rather, I suspect that fears are about the future course of the infection. Since few officials will comment on that (CDC and WHO have resolutely refused to do so), rumors dominate the public stage. It will kill millions! It’s a bust or even a hoax! Etc.

      Amidst the rising tide of misinformation – the focus of these posts on how we see, how we process what we see, how we make collective decisions, and take collective actions. These are the big factors that will distinguish the success of individual nations in managing COVID-19.

  2. The fear, I think is based upon the “media” presenting numbers of infections w/o explaining these numbers appropriately. This is a very infectious virus, as reflected by it’s RO number. Furthermore, the rise in numbers is in a logarithmic scale, which much people cannot grasp, as most of us think in linear terms.

    The infection will continue growing, since there is no immunity in the human hosts, unless we do what is recommended by the CDC, we develop herd immunity, therapeutic tools (medicines) and eventually a vaccine. Good policy enactment must be based on good science. The misinformation which you mentioned will take hold if we do not explain the basic concepts to our fellow Americans, although there are always political opportunists that will “bend’ a crisis to fit their agenda.

    Thanks for your postings, I read them daily and have been doing so for years.

    1. Rene,

      I agree, but the situation is complex. My coauthors urge me to go for the gold – as so many others have successfully during this epidemic – and be sensationalistic. Tell scary stories. Paint dark futures.

      People who have done that have seen their posts go viral (an apt metaphor).

      My posts about COVID-19 have been in effect public service announcements. Just the facts, people. And they’ve gotten far below average traffic.

      Side note: while the media (press and other) ramp up their coverage into giga-words per day, I find that there is little news. This is a commonplace during wars (Shaw reported this happening during WWI). Filling the gap with exciting chaff creates marketable media content but makes the public increasingly ill-informed. Free-market dynamics, giving us what we want – not what we need. Just like McDonalds.

      Thank you for your comments! Any suggestions about content would be greatly appreciated!

  3. Go always w the Truth, for the Truth will set you free. But, your task of finding the Truth is so difficult. Be Sisyphus for us & push the boulder to the peak.

  4. Mr. Kummer, good point about there being little new news from day to day.

    Dr. Fauci’s is weighting his words, but this interview leads me to believe that the spread of this virus can no longer be controlled. Despite all efforts, we seem to be headed (globally, not only in the USA) towards a forced herd immunity outcome. From what I have read, about 70% to 80% of humans will have to be infected for herd immunity to take hold.

    Political leaders and scientist must know that’s what is happening. Why are they still acting like this virus can be stopped?

    1. Bernard,

      I understand your point, but it is thinking inside the box. Of course it can be stopped. China is a poor nation, with a primitive medical infrastructure. Plus, they were the first affected – only slowly seeing the nature of the virus. Yet they stopped it.

      We can too. Remember that except I gave from Tom Clancy’s “Debt of Honor”? Commenters laugher. As if we’d need such drastic measures. We’re Number One!

      Slow and stupid, the two sins that Nature’s god always punishes.

      We just need to contain it until drugs are validated, a few months (my amateur guess).

      In a year or two we’ll have a vaccine.

    2. Bernard – a follow-up to your comment.

      There are steps that the Federal and State governments can take that are far more powerful than anything done so far. Such as the subject of this article:

      Does President Trump Have the Power to Issue a Quarantine Order?
      By Andrew McCarthy, a former Federal prosecutor. Lots of misinformation about this subject.


      1. Thanks Larry, I also have a follow-up comment. My resignation to the inevitability of the Coronavinus spread is also based on the significant number of cases that are not detected and/or show little or no symptoms. The OODA procedure will not be applied to these cases, but they will still be able to spread the infection. A quick search gave me these two references:



        Considering the number of known cases, even if the OODA protocol was perfectly applied in each case (impossible in practice) there has to be too many unknown cases in the wild for the spread to be stopped.

        OODA would have worked if this thing had been nipped in the bud a soon as it was detected in China.

      2. Bernard,

        “if this thing had been nipped in the bud a soon as it was detected in China”

        Or – if the US had applied 1/10th of the effort China has applied, then we would have the same level of infection as the East Asian states bordering China.

        But all discussions about COVID-19 in the West are in the forms IT’S CHINA’S FAULT BECAUSE WE ARE SO GREAT! Learning is hard for the West.

        “I also have a follow-up comment. My resignation to the inevitability of the Coronavinus spread is also based on the significant number of cases that are not detected and/or show little or no symptoms.”

        Unless you have some relevant expertise, I suggest leaving such forecasts for those who do.

      3. After seeing SARS and Ebola successfully contained, nobody, myself included, wanted to even think that COVID-19 could not also be contained.

        Thus, I would have written the same thing about initial containment if the original country of Coronavirus infection had been Italy or the USA.

        I’ll revisit this page, let’s say next September, and will be very happy to eat my words if I have been unduly pessimistic.

      4. Bernard,

        “will be very happy to eat my words if I have been unduly pessimistic.’

        You are not quite getting my point about giving predictions to the world about matters in which you have no competence. It’s not helping. It’s just one more person throwing chaff into the air.

    1. etudiant,

      Not at all a surprise, rather a commonplace. The death toll in army units was lower when deployed to Af and Iraq than when in the US. Fewer traffic deaths, fewer bar fights, etc. Similar here in COVID19-America. Fewer people on the roads, both for commuting and entertainment. Autos killed aprox 37k people last year. This year’s total will probably be much less.

      But there is a far larger factor. There were 129 confirmed cases on March 6. There are 103k as of March 28. The deaths from confirmed cases take a few weeks to show up in the number.

      And the epidemic might just be starting in America, so drawing conclusions – let alone applause – is way premature.

      1. Valid point that the US outbreak was still in its infancy by March 7.
        Still, we have about 150,000 confirmed cases through March 30, so somewhere between 3,000 and 15,000 expected CoV deaths, not all from this 3 week interval.
        Clearly there is a reduction in the US mortality rate, even with the virus accounted for.
        That suggests there is considerable room for benefit from behavioral change.

        Separately, I do not think the CDC comes out of this with much credit.
        They failed the nation disastrously with their defective and inadequate CoV test, compounding the failure by refusing to allow industry or health providers to step in quickly.
        Worse yet, they have done tremendous damage by their insistence that Americans do not need masks. As the Czechs have noted, masks are to protect others, they capture the spittle emitted when we talk. So it is stupid to emphasize their modest utility as personal protection devices, they protect those around us and should be mandatory.

        Dr Fauci is doubtless an effective communicator and has a strong record. His personal achievements however should not blind us to the egregious failure of the organization he represents.

      2. etudiant,

        “Clearly there is a reduction in the US mortality rate, even with the virus accounted for.”


        I suggest that you leave such analysis to people with some relevant competence. It’s just one more person throwing chaff into the air. It’s not helping.

        “I do not think the CDC comes out of this with much credit.”

        Yes, they screwed up big-time with the tests. But their public advisories and information has been accurate.

        “Worse yet, they have done tremendous damage by their insistence that Americans do not need masks”

        Nope. Effective masks are scarce. They should be kept for front-line medical personal, not for people visiting the grocery store. If the US was competently run, the Federal govt would have nationalized the entire supply in February (as I hear France recently did).

        “His personal achievements however should not blind us to the egregious failure of the organization he represents.”

        I suspect that is false. He represents the White House Task Force, created (de facto) sometime in March (ie, created in January, then disappeared for a month during which Trump tweeted madly), which has done OK – and is only an advisory body. He is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of Department of Health and Human Services. I haven’t followed NIAID’s activities during the epidemic, but am unaware of any “egregious failures” by it.

  5. Broadly speaking, the CDC failed at their primary responsibility.
    Their name says Center for Disease Control. They did not perform what they were created for.

    Re the numbers, I’m not throwing any chaff, I’m simply stating the numbers. Analysis is up to others.

    I do think most Americans would see Dr Fauci as the spokesman for the CDC, no matter what his label ‘du jour’ might be.

    Lastly, I think you are quite wrong on the mask issue, their function is to protect others, not to protect you.
    So the intake filtering efficiency of the masks is irrelevant, they hugely cut down on the crap you exhale, even just a t shirt is a big help. For the CDC to say they should not be used is really harmful, even if there are supply issues.

    1. etudiant,

      You are ignoring what I’m saying. What cracked right-wing sources are you reading to get this nonsense?

      “Their name says Center for Disease Control. They did not perform what they were created for.”

      That’s pretty delusional. They are doctors and scientists, not gods. Their goal is to control diseases. There are no guarantees that they can do so, let alone in the time frame that you believe your awesomeness deserves.

      “I think you are quite wrong on the mask issue, their function is to protect others, not to protect you.”

      That’s absurdly false. Talk to a doctor or nurse about the role of a mask when treating patients with infectious diseases.

      “For the CDC to say they should not be used is really harmful, even if there are supply issues.”

      Again, bizarrely false. They wanted masks used by those who most need them – which is front-line medical people. Who are now desperately need them, due to Trump’s failure to nationalize the supply.

      1. Larry, that is just wrong on the mask issue.
        Surgeons wear them to protect the patient and likewise people should wear them to protect others around them. They retain your oral excretions and keep you from touching your face, both highly desirable aspects during this outbreak.
        The CDC wanting to reserve the best masks for those in the front line is quite reasonable, most people don’t need an N95 or N100 filtered respirator, but everyone would be well served to use a basic mask during this crisis and it is just stupid to deny it.
        Agreed that the CDC are not gods, that is abundantly clear.
        What they did not do is recognize that a disaster was unfolding or articulate the danger, even though that is their job and there was abundant evidence.
        In China, people risked their lives to sound the alarm and we learned about it, but if the CDC was ringing the tocsin, it sure was muted. We got a bureaucratic response all down the line, on the testing, on the masks, on the ventilators. I believe they deserve a D at best.

      2. edidiant,

        I appreciate you making stuff up. See my cites of actual experts about masks.

        As for the CDC, implementing most of WHO’s recommendations required approval of officials far senior to those of the CDC. Discussions at that level are public – so you don’t know what was said. They were not going to make public statements that contradicted the views of a cabinet secretary and the president

        It’s nutty to blame the CDC for the failures of senior admin officials. It is a small agency – with only 15 thousand employees and a budget of aprox $12 billion, and a wide range of responsibilities other than infectious diseases. Its Director isn’t even senior in the sense of requiring Senate confirmation.

      3. Edidiant,

        See this NYT article: “‘Health Care Kamikazes’: How Spain’s Workers Are Battling Coronavirus, Unprotected” – “Over 12,000 health care workers have contracted Covid-19 in Spain amid grave shortages in personal protective equipment. Nurses and doctors showed us how they make their own gowns, masks and shields.”

        Write these Spanish hospitals and explain your theories to them.

        Please stop writing about matters about which you know little. I’m moderating your comments. Matters well-supported in some way will be posted. We’re in an emergency, and throwing chaff into the public discussion is a public menace. It won’t happen here.

      4. Dr Michael Ryan at the WHO Media Briefing, March 30:

        “In general WHO recommends that the wearing of a mask by a member of the public is to prevent that individual giving the disease to somebody else. We don’t generally recommend the wearing of masks in public by otherwise well individuals because it has not been up to now associated with any particular benefit.

        “It does have benefit psychologically, socially and there are social norms around that and we don’t criticise the wearing of masks and have not done so but there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit. In fact there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly or taking it off and all the other risks that are otherwise associated with that.

        “There also is the issue that we have a massive global shortage and where should these masks be and where is the best benefit? One could argue that there’s a benefit of anything but where does a given tool has its most benefit? Right now the people most at risk from this virus are front-line health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific so we have to be very careful on supply but that is not the primary reason why WHO has advised against using masks at a mass population level.”

    1. Ron,

      Please be serious for a minute. What do you get from that, vs. what you’d get from reading a primary source – such as WHO’s daily Situation Report? Which also gives info that puts the numbers in a meaningful context.

      1. Ron,

        Are you kidding? The US has applied few of the measures that China used to contain COVID-19. Why would you expect similar results? Perhaps because we scream “WE’RE NUMBER ONE AND CHINA IS LYING”?

      2. 2/ Ron,

        “Will our time frame be similar?”

        This just in: America already has far more cases per capita than China (more cases with 1/4th the population). Perhaps you should be reading the WHO reports instead of whatever fun graphics you’re reading now.

      3. Larry,

        “Perhaps because we scream “WE’RE NUMBER ONE AND CHINA IS LYING”?”

        My guess (guess) is this virus was brewing and spreading for weeks in Wuhan during the month of December, and spread around the world before China knew about it and locked down their city.

        Seriously, stop pointing fingers and spreading rumors.

      4. Ron,

        “My guess (guess) is this virus was brewing …”

        Since you know absolutely nothing about the situation and have absolutely no relevant expertise, your guess is irrelevant.

        “Seriously, stop pointing fingers and spreading rumors.”

        Worst case of projection I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not posting anything of your except for its instructional value to others – as errors – I suggest you save your time.

  6. Masks… well, it depends. The garden variety “surgical masks” do not offer any protection to the wearer, and Etudiant is right, it will protect the non–infected from the infected. Yes, it will also serve as a reminder that you should not touch your face. As masks become more available, they will be accessible to the public at large, In the meantime, a recommendation to wear mask in the face of the current lack of them will create pandemonium.

    Regarding the CDC, I do not think anybody though it was going to be this bad, mostly due to faulty information and data our of Wuhan. As we get our own data/experience, and that coming from the EU, we are able to refine our battle plans. Much like WWII, at the beginning, many though we were going to fail, but we did not. Have faith and patience! (Is this a good time to read Churchill?)
    The enactment of policy is like dancing: the right steps with the right timing…

    1. Rene,

      I am quite shocked at your comment.

      (1) “Regarding the CDC, I do not think anybody though it was going to be this bad, mostly due to faulty information and data our of Wuhan. ”

      While endlessly repeated, that’s totally false. See the timeline. By mid-January, WHO was giving strong warnings – and urging that others copy China’s strong response. By mid-February, they were ringing all the alarms. The US began intense preparations in early March..

      (2) “The garden variety “surgical masks” do not offer any protection to the wearer,”

      But public demand has created a shortage. Are you happy that hospital personal have an inadequate supply to make people like Edudiant feel safe?

      “Yes, it will also serve as a reminder that you should not touch your face.”

      That’s an odd reason to widely distribute a very scarce and needed resource.

      “Etudiant is right, it will protect the non–infected from the infected.”

      I suggest that we go with the advice of WHO, the CDC, the US Surgeon-General, and other experts – not Etudiant.

      WHO: “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”

      “Seriously people-STOP BUYING MASKS!” began a 29 February tweet from U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

      An article in Science gives the bottom line:

      “Even experts who favor masking the masses say their impact on the spread of disease is likely to be modest. Many are also afraid to promote mask buying amid dire shortages at hospitals. … key factor pushing health authorities to discourage mask wearing is the limited supply, says Elaine Shuo Feng, an epidemiologist and statistician at the University of Oxford, whose team last week published in The Lancet a comparison of various health authorities’ face mask recommendations. For that reason, Mark Loeb, a microbiologist and infectious disease physician at McMaster University, says, ‘I do not think that it is sound public health policy for people to be going out and purchasing medical masks and N95 respirators and wearing them out on the street.'”

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