By ANISH KOKA, MD
COVID is here. A little strand of RNA that used to live in bats has a new host. And that strand is clearly not the flu. New York is overrun, with more than half of the nation’s new cases per day, and refrigerated 18-wheelers parked outside hospitals serve as makeshift morgues. Detroit, New Orleans, Miami, and Philadelphia await an inevitable surge of their own with bated breath. America’s health care workers are scrambling to hold the line against a deluge of sick patients arriving hourly at a rate that’s hard to fathom.
I pause here to attest to the heroic response of the medical community and the countless more working to support them. At the time of this writing, despite 368,000 confirmed cases in the United States, 11,000 deaths have been reported. A horrid number, but still a far cry from Italy with 130,000 cases, and 16,523 deaths, and Spain with 14,000 deaths amidst 140,000 cases. Italy and Spain may be a few weeks ahead of the United States, but at the moment, Italy and Spain have case fatality rates (12.5%, 10%) that are multiples of the United States (2.5%). If this rate does stand, it will be a testament to the tenacity of medical workers toiling under extenuating circumstances.
With the scale of the tragedy now obvious, the take from some very smart people is that the people who should have been paying attention were asleep at the wheel. The easy target is the bombastic New York real estate developer and current President of the United States who repeatedly assured raucous campaign crowds and the nation that the virus was under control before it wasn’t.
The charge is made that the President ignored warnings and painted a rosy picture of an unfolding crisis in a short-sighted attempt to preserve the economy and a beloved stock market. He may be guilty of the latter charge, but the real question relates to ignored warnings. Where were the warnings? Who was sounding the alarm that was ultimately ignored?Continue reading…