A big issue with resuming elective procedures is the availability of PPE.
The fact that the surge never materialized doesn't demonstrate that the predictions were wrong; it demonstrates that social distancing is working.
Getting to herd immunity by letting people get infected would cost about 2 million lives in the United States.
We need to start preparing for a darker reality.
To clarify some facts. Might be a little long so feel free to move on, as I am giving more detail on a personal level so folks understand I have first hand knowledge regarding PPE and testing.
I'm in NYS-greater metro area. Medical technologist, out working in the hospital lab. Smaller hospital of a multi-hospital system. We have many COVID patients in house. We have employees with and recovering from COVID. We have an attached nursing home with many COVID patients. Yes we have had deaths. And we have discharged many many recovered COVID patients. We have tested thousands of patients, yes my smaller hospital system. Over 20,000. With many positive patients who never needed hospitalization.
There are no issues with PPE currently. The supply chain issues have been resolved. Now we don't have boxes of stuff just out and about like in the past. Because unfortunately a lot of that seemed to have developed legs and walked away. So most hospitals are keeping more stringent controls on their PPE, so they can have it available to those who need it. And they do. Everyone of us gets our temperatures taken when we enter the building along with a nice new mask. Everyone. Every shift. Every visit. We didn't 6 weeks ago. No longer an issue. I know many RNs, techs, Docs...... Every patient gets hand sanitizer with every meal tray. PPE is not an issue now.
The issue with elective surgeries, is allowing for sufficient staffing and ICU beds/ventilators should an area become a hot spot.
Next regarding the linked article. It is rather big on political slant. Short on facts.
To add some more background to clarify what's to follow regarding testing and studies.
Practicing laboratory science for over 30 years. Board Certified. On the bench, in management. Over a decade working for the company (ies) that pretty much started modern day laboratory testing. Coulter, then Beckman Coulter. Worldwide companies. I was involved in product development as things went to beta sites for FDA approval. And post product release supporting customer (laboratory) validation and implementation of new tests and products.
The time it takes to get a test through validation in this country takes years and is quite extensive. Products and tests are released in Europe and Asia, years before US gets approval. And I have also had products end up on hold elsewhere in the world because of problems discovered in the US that were missed elsewhere. The regulations have been in place long before this current administration was in place. And as a laboratory professional I am amazed by how quickly EUAs were issued and how quickly testing came up. Once it was taken out of the government hands and put into the laboratories. Specimen collection devices were a supply chain issue at first, the swabs and media expire. No one stocks for pandemic volume. Those issues are mostly resolved. Testing was a problem past tense. It is no longer a problem. We are currently doing over a million tests a week in the US. And constantly adding more capacity. And we still don't have solid information on specificity/sensitivity of these tests, in other words false negative and positive rates. Just because you have a test doesn't make it a good test. The jury is still out on how sensitive/accurate the South Korea testing was/is.
And there is no need to get a test just because you want one. You can test negative at lunch time and be exposed and "catch" COVID by dinner.
Antibody testing has started. Those EUAs are released for surveillance use only. There are no immunity claims. This is a new virus, that information is not available yet. Simply because the virus is new. And yes the denominator will get substantially larger. And the mortality rate will get lower. I could of been tested today if I wanted to be. No need at the moment. At some point I will.
And testing the whole US is not going to happen. Its not necessary and not practical. Surveillance testing is to get representative data. More testing where is it needed. Vulnerable high risk populations. Hot spots.
Hydroxychloroquine studies are still ongoing. There is a large study currently going on at the Northwell Health System on Long Island. My sister in law is an RN on a COVID floor with patients on that study. And I am sure there are more studies out there. Same with Resdemisvir. Even our small hospital is doing convalescent plasma transfusions.
The goal of the sheltering orders were never to get to 0 cases. It was to not overwhelm the hospital systems. 2 million deaths is an old model with no mitigation. And sadly people will die. Of COVID and a host of other things. Most people who get COVID will survive. How many will die due to the economic and social complications from this closure? That is a whole different thread. And "opening up" doesn't mean "business as usual" pre COVID. There will be mitigation. Masks are in our future for some time to come. Things like temperature tests. Social distancing in place. Restaurants and movie theaters will have less capacity. Remote working will likely be encouraged. Excessive testing and monitoring will be needed in long term care facilities. And how the long term care facilities were handled is a huge debacle. Contact tracing. And that is going to be different in different areas of the country. Contact testing in Montana is going to be a lot easier then NYC. Where its someone who was on the 4 train today around 8 am is COVID positive.
And no one is going to force any one to get a hair cut, go to the beach, get their nails done, head out to restaurant. No one is going to come force a child to head back into the gym.
Folks who are not comfortable being out and about can stay in and keep their profile low. But the folks who want to venture out, should be able to.
For us. I am working in a hospital. I come home to my family. If I want to sit on a beach blanket, snuggled up with my husband and kid, who I live with,as long as our blanket is appropriately distance from everyone else's it really shouldn't be anyone else's business.
Reasonable and prudent. Yes. But closed until a vaccine. No, not going to happen.