We are in the thick of the epidemic now. We will officially pass 150,000 deaths in the US tomorrow. We already passed that number, depending on how you count them. The states fighting the biggest fires are Texas, Florida, Georgia, and California with warning signs of smoldering embers in many other states, like New Mexico, North Carolina, and here in Washington.
We are learning more and the estimated fatality rate has come down, probably closer to 1%. As a comparison, the flu fatality rate is about 0.1%. Not as bad as we feared, but still devastating to a population. Now, the bigger concerns are the long term effects some people have. Yes, many people have positive SARS-CoV-2 tests and few, if any, symptoms. Others have symptoms lasting for months. This is an infection that I want to avoid. I am not taking my chances.
How can we do better? One limiting factor is that tests get backed up at the labs due to the overwhelming number of tests from states that have huge outbreaks. This is a problem. Some people are waiting 10 days to get their results! During that period people may be out and about and infecting others, or they may be staying home to self quarantine and aren’t able to work. Or they got a test and then went places where they could have been exposed again and by the time their negative test comes back 10 days later, they are incubating an infection.
We need a better system. And it is coming-a rapid and reliable home test that is only $1-2 per test. Results in as little as 15 minutes. Dr. Paul Sax, a Harvard Infectious Disease doctor, writes about how much a game changer it can be. We can do the test easily at home before we go visit our elderly mother, or new grandchild, or finally get that medical test done that you have postponed. So many other ways it can help. We all should advocate with our leaders to get this approved. There is a bonus video in the blog that is helpful.
But for now we are left with washing our hands, wearing masks, and physical distancing outdoors. And fighting off disinformation. A never ending job, with more stories today of disinformation spread by our leaders and those who wish us harm. Let’s remember that most people doing the right thing. It is the loud ones we hear about.
Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, outdoors, and enjoy that ice cream cone without guilt for once.