Covid 19, Part III

Arthur Ahrens of Branchport is the author of this article which is published here with permission. Views expressed by contributors are their own.

A nuclear reactor is a marvelous piece of technology. Electricity is generated by turbines driven by steam produced by heat created by a series of nuclear fissions.

Controlling the fission process is a delicate matter. Reducing the number of nuclear fissions too far will shut the reactor down. Increasing the number too far will melt the reactor. It is the operators’ job to keep the reactor running as efficiently as possible. In practice, this means running with the number of fissions as high as possible without disaster.

The operators have NO real time data. The fissions occur at 3% of the speed of light. To regulate the reactor, they depend on accurate historical data generated by the reactor seconds ago. A long time when you are riding the dragon.

Disease control is similar. Epidemiologists and health officials rely on historical data generated by testing to identify positives via contact tracing. These positives are then required to isolate or quarantine.

The entire effort to control a pandemic is dependent on all three legs of the process : testing, contact tracing, isolation / quarantine. Remove one, and the effort fails.

New Zealand, Vietnam, and Iceland have all controlled the pandemic successfully using this technique.

Iceland’s screening and contact tracing system has been so efficient that it now boasts one of the lowest virus death rates in the world: 3 per 100,000 people.  Germany and other countries have had similar success, although not as dramatic.

Covid 19 is exploding exponentially in the US. Why?

The number of tests has been vastly increased from the beginning of the pandemic. But shortages of test facilities, test kits, reagents and laboratories are combining to make timely test results available to only a small number of people. Results returned beyond the window to do any productive contact testing are useless. And there are many of them. A failure here.

An army of contact tracers is needed. Each person needs specialized knowledge and training to do their job. Presently, our country is very short of the number of needed contact tracers. And with many test results taking too long to arrive, there is nothing for a contact tracer to work with. A failure here, also.

The result of the previous two failures is that many positive cases are unaware that they are shedding virus and continue to be carriers of Covid 19, infecting their neighbors. The predictable result is the exponential growth of the virus that we are seeing in Texas, Florida, Georgia and other states.

Some European countries are going to be returning their children to school shortly. Without exception, these are countries that have used testing / contact tracing / isolation and quarantine to control and mitigate Covid 19. Opening their schools represents a minimal risk.

Trump, DeVos, Reed are demanding schools open in the fall, despite Trump’s failure to contain the virus. Because of this failure, opening our schools represents a significant risk to our children, our seniors, our economy.

Arthur Ahrens (Richelieu/D’Artagnan/Athos/Porthos/Aramis)

Branchport, NY 7/12/2020


About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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14 Responses to Covid 19, Part III

  1. Arthur Ahrens says:

    I just saw an ex FDA official on MSNBC (did not catch his name)
    who states that since FL, TX, AZ et al are at the top of their testing capability, one can expect the reported number of cases to plateau soon.
    The only way to track the disease will be counting the number of deaths.

    And Trump is removing the CDC from the reporting chain.

    The propaganda people will soon be controlling the data message.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. whungerford says:

    Trump may deceive himself, but is it possible he will deceive many others?


  3. Arthur Ahrens says:

    From Politico Nightly 7/15/2020:
    The virus isn’t going away — Halfway through July, the situation is actually worse in many parts of the country than at the start of the pandemic. Daily Covid deaths are at their highest levels in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and other states, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Last week, Covid Exit Strategy , a group tracking state progress in meeting Covid containment goals added a new shade, “bruised red,” to its color-coded map to signify states where Covid is spreading uncontrollably. Nearly 20 states are now colored deep red.

    About 7 to 9 percent of the population, or 23 million people, have been infected to date, estimates Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Minnesota. He said transmission won’t slow until at least half of the population becomes infected. If cases continue growing at today’s pace, even with a lower death rate, he projects that about 800,000 people will die before any sort of herd immunity kicks in. Plus, he added, a shortage of crucial drugs like remdesivir and maxed out hospital capacity could start to reverse progress that clinicians make in treating Covid patients. And young people with common underlying health conditions like obesity aren’t immune from the worst effects of the virus.

    “It’s like a big giant forest fire that’s looking for human lives to burn,” he said about the virus. “This is going to last for many months and it is going to get worse.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. whungerford says:

    Herd immunity depends on reinfection not being likely. If reinfection is likely, herd immunity isn’t even a cruel and expensive answer.


  5. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Ah, a known unknown. Although there is some evidence that antibody protection diminishes after Covid infections.


  6. Arthur Ahrens says:

    The University of Washington’s IHME now projects that COVID-19 will claim 224,000 American lives by Nov. 1.


  7. whungerford says:

    Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written that societies fail to see disaster when the wolf is at the door. That seems to be the case here today–there is no consensus that we have a problem and need a solution.


  8. Arthur Ahrens says:

    He also states the leaders of any endangered society, the chiefs, believe that the threat will only affect the little people. The chiefs are often wrong.


  9. Arthur Ahrens says:

    About Florida… 7/19/2020

    Anonymous in Tallahassee, FL, writes: I’ve read your items several times over the past few weeks about Florida and COVID-19 and thought I’d add a little bit of behind the scenes information about how politicized this has become.

    I work at the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and have been neck deep in COVID data for months now. You know, and have mentioned, that Florida’s data transparency has been mixed at best. Behind the scenes, the goal is clear: make the numbers look good. Sadly, we have proven to be willing to mislead the public in order to meet that goal. It was widely reported last week that we finally released our hospitalization numbers. I think P.D. mentioned a while back about how us not releasing that information made it hard to gauge the outbreak. You can see the numbers here.

    You need to pay close attention to the top: Hospitalizations with Primary Diagnosis of COVID-19. We aren’t really releasing our hospitalization numbers. We are having each hospital report how many COVID-19 positive patients are in the hospital, but not primarily there for COVID-19. Some examples we provide are” “Say a person is in the hospital because they broke their leg, but just happens to have COVID-19.” Or: “Say a woman is in the hospital to have a baby, but just happens to have COVID-19.” We then subtract the number of “non-primary” COVID-19 patients from the overall number of COVID positive patients. This is the number we release to the public. For example, today we had a little over 9,400 COVID positive patients in the hospital. We publicly reported a little over 8,200 because we subtracted the 1,200-ish “non-primary” COVID positive patients.

    It gets worse when you dig into that 1,200 “non-primary” number. If you break it down by hospital, you see that about 75% of the hospitals either don’t answer or answer 0 for that question. However, about 20 hospitals are reporting 100% of their COVID positive patients as “non-primary.” My guess is this is just data entry errors, probably from untrained hospital staff who are trying to answer a confusing question. In fact, one hospital today reported 10 more “non-primary” positives than positive patients resulting in -10 hospitalizations. Think of how good our numbers would be if everyone followed their lead!

    Normally, when I find glaring errors like this, I point it out to the relevant people for correction. However, with this, I’m afraid to point it out because fixing it means making our numbers worse. I privately reached out to a co-worker I trust and have worked with for years. He isn’t in the administration but is high enough up to have a good gauge of the politics. He told me it would be OK to point it out to some QA folks, but then forget about it. He said, “that’s the only way I’ve been able to keep my job and my sanity.”


  10. Arthur Ahrens says:

    The Single Most Important Lesson From the 1918 Influenza
    —Tell the truth. At its core, society is based on trust.–

    By John M. Barry

    Mr. Barry is the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.”


  11. Arthur Ahrens says:

    The Pandemic Could Get Much, Much Worse. We Must Act Now.
    A comprehensive shutdown may be required in much of the country.
    By John M. Barry

    Mr. Barry is the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.”

    …..”During the 1918 influenza pandemic, almost every city closed down much of its activity. Fear and caring for sick family members did the rest; absenteeism even in war industries exceeded 50 percent and eviscerated the economy. Many cities reopened too soon and had to close a second time — sometimes a third time — and faced intense resistance. But lives were saved.

    Had we done it right the first time, we’d be operating at near 100 percent now, schools would be preparing for a nearly normal school year, football teams would be preparing to practice — and tens of thousands of Americans would not have died.

    This is our second chance. We won’t get a third. If we don’t get the growth of this pandemic under control now, in a few months, when the weather turns cold and forces people to spend more time indoors, we could face a disaster that dwarfs the situation today.”


  12. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Inside Trump’s Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus

    A good read. Birx is complicit in this mess.


  13. whungerford says:

    General Mattis resigned in protest. Should Brix and Fauci do the same?


  14. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Mattis is a poor example of a profile in courage. Don’t make him a hero. How long did he serve a man he knew was unfit before he resigned?

    Fauci resign? From what position?

    Birx is a political animal. She’s made a Mattis-like decision. Her time to resign clearly was when she sat stoically silent while the President of the United States suggested internal application of bleach as a treatment for the coronavirus. A doctor, she failed to correct advice that was dangerous, harmful and life threatening. Some people actually followed that advice. It’s easy to see that she will never resign.


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