As of Sunday, there have been 40,565 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States and 477 in Texas. Even though Texas hasn’t suffered near the rate of infection or death that New York or New Jersey have, that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen.
What the media and the man in the White House fail to get across is that the suffering isn’t just death.
COVID-19 also results in 25% pulmonary function deficit that takes 15 to 20 years to heal, some sort of coagulopathy (excessive bleeding due to a failure to clot) present in one-third of patients (long term implications not clear), neurological deficits (it may not be only smell and taste that are affected), joint inflammations (now being investigated), and liver damage — none of these things are trivial.
We know that kids are infected. It seems relatively benign. Do they have any alterations in their neurobehavioral development? Growth? The comparison is oft made to the flu. The flu is not neurotoxic, and it isn’t hepatoxic either. And while there are some pulmonary consequences, they’re pretty rare.
Republicans and Libertarians are complaining about the cost to the economy of keeping businesses closed. I don’t hear anyone asking about the costs to the economy from the deaths and long term health damage of large portions of their employees and customers?
The squatter in the White House is amping up his rhetoric about allowing businesses to open their doors while failing to take the steps necessary to prevent a second wave of infections. He’s encouraging armed protesters to hold rallies at state capitol buildings all across the country, there was one in Austin, too. Not only are the guns carried by these protesters dangerous and unnecessary, the protestors are out there screaming without masks so they’re potentially infecting each other.
Gov. Abbott is talking about reopening businesses in Texas in a couple of weeks, and while the rate of infection and death has been 35 times lower than New York, there is no evidence that the risk has passed. In fact, public health experts say that there are a few things that must be done before the stay at home orders are lifted.
First, testing for infection has to be much more widely available than it currently is so we know who is infected. Second, tracking down all those who have come into contact with the infected person over the prior two weeks and testing them has to be done. That isn’t as simple as it seems because then any of those found to be infected set off another wave of contact tracing. This takes a lot of manpower. Next, any found to be infected must be quarantined for a minimum of two weeks.
One of my sisters is a nurse in a rural hospital, she has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in quarantine. She is well enough to stay at home now, but that can change. Her health is in danger along with that of her family. In addition, the hospital where she works is now understaffed putting further strain on the remaining medical staff at a time when the number of patients with COVID-19 is rising.
Economists say the shutdown is costing the U.S. economy about $20 billion a day. Ramping up production of test kits and the ability to analyze the kits reportedly would cost $25 billion so, in other words, just a little more than one day of closure. If he wants the economy reopened, why isn’t the president taking steps to ensure adequate test kit production and analysis capacity?