October 1, 2020

Superspreader

While I was writing tonight about misinformation and COVID-19, word came that the president and his wife have tested positive for COVID. I am not surprised because of his resistance to mask wearing and social distancing. I figured it was only a matter of time. Testing is only so effective, because it may not catch an early infection because there is not enough virus yet. The amount of virus can increase rapidly over the course of a day and that person is then very infectious. Incubation takes about 2-6 days but some people may not show signs for up to 14 days. SARS-CoV-2 is sneaky that way.

We will also worry for all the other people possibly exposed in the last few days, his entourage who accompanies him, the pilots and staff of Air Force One, the Secret Service who guard him, and others who do the day to day caring for them. Also, his opponent at the debate could have been exposed since the virus is airborne. Frustratingly, his children also took their masks off in the debate hall and did not put them back on when asked by one of Case Western Reserve’s medical staff, possibly exposing others in the room.

We all have lots of reactions to this news. I relate it to what I started to write earlier. Trump has been the biggest superspreader of misinformation about COVID-19 in the US, shown in an excellent study by Cornell University. Much of the information he spread has been shown to be false, including new data that shows hydroxychloroquine does not work to prevent COVID-19 in health care workers. That misinformation actually blocked our ability to fight the virus and prevent deaths and disability (Don’t forget the Long Haulers). That misinformation slowed our response which has harmed the economy ever more. That misinformation also caused harm in more ways than I have listed.

He has continued to sow misinformation, despite the overwhelming number of 200,000 deaths. During the debate, he said children do not get sick, which directly conflicts with other data that shows increased cases in children as schools open. The thing about children is, even though they may not get very ill, they are super spreaders to older family members, which can be deadly. He and his crew seem to magically think the virus is going away, even as cases are rising in Wisconsin at alarming levels and hospitals there are filling up to capacity. Other midwest states are also having more cases.

Unpacking what went wrong will take a long time. What is clear now is that the virus is not yet contained. We also see that as the virus hits close to home more and more people start masking up without complaint. This event may help the people resisting masks change their view. We can always hope for that. The more empathy we have for others the better we are about choosing the best options. I don’t want to be a superspreader.

You all already know to wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and don’t be a superspreader.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-misinformation.html

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/88883 hydroxy

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/covid-19-cases-rising-among-us-children-as-schools-reopen/

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/pandemic-is-far-from-over-experts-say-despite-trump-allies-claims/

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/88900 Wisconsin

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation-politics/wisconsin-is-frazzled-by-surging-virus-cases-and-growing-campaign-frenzy/