Letter: Demand testing
There is a great hunger for returning to normal, as we all go stir-crazy to one degree or another. That being said, it would be incredibly dangerous to jump the gun and reopen schools and Main Street before it is safe to do so.
So how do we know whether and when it is safe?
Well, we could simply hunker down until an effective treatment and/or vaccine is developed and made widely available. But who knows when that might emerge? Uncertainty leads to fear and desperation.
So how do we avoid this uncertainty?
Data. Vast amounts of data. And how to we get this data?
Massive testing, contact tracing, disciplined isolation and quarantine.
That’s the only way to deal with the uncertainty of this pandemic.
Before we can reopen for business, at any level of society — town, county, region, state or nation — we need to know whether or how well all this isolation and social distancing is working. We need to know who is infected and who has been infected and who is still vulnerable?
Who shows up at a hospital is only part of the larger picture. There is an unknown number of people who get infected, yet show no or minor symptoms. These people can spread the disease without knowing it, so it would be grossly irresponsible to turn them loose in the community by opening everything up,
The only way to identify who has the virus is massive, repetitive testing. Just because you are clear now, doesn’t mean you’ll be clean in a month. Just because you carry antibodies, doesn’t mean you’ll be clean and clear forever. Just because you feel fine and show no symptoms, doesn’t mean you can’t spread death and suffering just by walking into a room or through the grocery store.
With massive testing, we can identify people who can go back to school and back to work. That data can allow public health officials to determine whether and how quickly and to what degree, we can get back to “normal.”
Using mobile phones, apps and Bluetooth communications between devices, each cleared/clean individual could be clearly identified for public health officials and for employers and the general public. With such technology, peace of mind could be returned to the public square. Walking down the street or into a store could be relaxed, not anxious.
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