Welcome to the New (Ab)Normal! “There is a deepening national sense that the progress made in fighting the pandemic is coming undone and no patch of America is safe.” Sobering truths from @juliebosman @mannyNYT @thomasfullerNYT https://t.co/eW1EMxvSN8 — Patricia Mazzei (@PatriciaMazzei) August 2, 2020 Colleagues and I are out with a new report today with 10 …
Reports of influenza and a host of other infectious diseases have plummeted as the COVID-19 pandemic has driven people into lockdowns.
In many places, social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus may be smothering the spread of other infectious diseases at the same time. But, in other places, the pandemic may simply be masking disease spread, as people may avoid seeking care for more routine infections while health care systems stretched thin by the pandemic may struggle to conduct routine, surveillance, testing, and reporting.
Some of the resulting declines are dramatic. Countries across the Southern Hemisphere have reported much lower numbers of influenza than usual. Australia, for instance, began 2020 with a relatively high level of flu—reporting around 7,000 lab-confirmed cases in both January and February. But the outbreak crashed in March, with reports of only 229 cases in April, compared with nearly 19,000 in April 2019, as noted by the New Scientist…
don't miss this one!
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) July 31, 2020
Pleased to share my contribution to @BostonReview's "Thinking in a Pandemic" series. My focus was applying solution-based thinking to move us towards our goal of living safely. I would love for you to read it, but summarizing the main points here. 1/11https://t.co/vY9gQPerrP
— Natalie E. Dean, PhD (@nataliexdean) July 30, 2020
… At this point, we know the problems. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, can spread before infected people develop symptoms—between 4 and 41 percent of people never develop symptoms, in fact—yet we are nowhere near herd immunity. At the same time, the United States continues to lack sufficient capacity for testing and contact tracing. Countries like Germany, Greece, Italy, and Australia conduct on average two hundred tests to find a single confirmed case; in the United States, every twelve tests uncovers a new infection. Widespread lockdowns imposed in March and April dramatically slowed epidemic growth, but they came with enormous costs, not only economic—leaving tens of millions unemployed—but also social and medical. Vital medical services have been disrupted, including infant vaccination, cancer screening, and HIV treatment programs. The impacts are far-reaching and severe. On the other hand, where lockdowns have been lifted too quickly, transmission has resurged, leading some states to reclose businesses.
It is natural to react to seemingly impossible situations by focusing on the problems. Why is this happening? Why were we so unprepared? Who is to blame? Our collective experience during the pandemic has been likened to the stages of grief; hundreds of millions of people have collectively experienced denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. The last, critical stage is acceptance. Given that the virus is here to stay, how do we learn to live with it safely?…
As we continue the work of implementing sorely needed solutions, there are four principles we can use to guide our action.
First, we must constantly work to shift the public discussion from the general to the specific, forcing ourselves into the proverbial weeds. Much of the national conversation surrounding lockdowns, for example, has operated at an unhelpful level of generality. Policies of this magnitude have large and broad-reaching impacts—medical and economic, of course, but also legal and social. They also are not implemented uniformly: they impact different geographic regions and different employment sectors in different ways. The reality is far more complex than a simple dualism: “lockdown good!” or “lockdown bad!”…