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