Coronavirus in the US: things are ‘changing hour by hour’

Posted by


>>Sreenivasan: THE RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IS CHANGING ON AN ALMOST HOURLY BASIS. TESTING IS INCREASING, HEALTH CARE WORKERS ARE FACING NEW CHALLENGES, AND THERE ARE GUIDELINES FOR ALL OF US TO CONSIDER IN OUR INTERACTIONS. CAROLINE CHEN, WHO REPORTS ON HEALTH CARE AND PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES FOR PROPUBLICA, JOINS US NOW FOR MORE. ONE OF THE CONCERNS THAT SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE HAD NOW– LAST WEEKEND, THE ADMINISTRATION SAID, THERE’S GOING TO BE A MILLION MORE TESTS OUT THERE– THE TEST KITS OUT THERE. THEY’RE GOING TO BE GETTING OUT TO THE PRIVATE LABS. THEY’RE GOING TO BE HAVING ACCESS TO IT. AND JUST THIS AFTERNOON, WE HEARD BOTH THE VICE PRESIDENT AND THE PRESIDENT SORT OF MODIFY THAT, BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN YOU TALK TO DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS, THEY DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE ALL THOSE KITS.>>SO, THINGS ARE LITERALLY CHANGING HOUR BY HOUR. I THINK, EVEN AS OF THIS WEEK, WE HAVE CONTINUED TO HEAR AMERICANS SAY “WE WANT TO BE TESTED, WE CAN’T GET TESTED.” AND TO HEAR DOCTORS SAYING, “WE WANTED TO GET THESE PATIENTS TESTED AND WE CAN’T.” AND THAT’S TREMENDOUSLY FRUSTRATING AND ANXIETY- PROVOKING. AND I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT, NOT JUST ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL, BECAUSE OF THAT ANXIETY OF, YOU KNOW, I WANT TO KNOW. IT’S IMPORTANT FOR THE COUNTRY TO KNOW WHERE THE DISEASE IS. AND I KEEP THINKING ABOUT AN INTERVIEW I DID WITH A SCIENTIST WHO SAID “THE DISEASE IS AHEAD OF THE DATA.” AND THAT’S SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THE DISEASE HAS SPREAD, IT’S SO HARD FOR PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS TO PLAN AND TO KNOW HOW TO RESPOND AT A MACRO SCALE. AND I THINK THE PROBLEM THERE, AS WE KNOW, HAS NOT ONLY BEEN JUST PRODUCTION OF THE MATERIALS, BUT I THINK ANOTHER THING THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT IS, YOU KNOW, IT ACTUALLY TAKES MANPOWER AT INDIVIDUAL LABS TO RUN THE TESTS. AND SO, THAT’S WHY I’VE CONTINUALLY BEEN ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO THINK ABOUT THE IDEA OF, WHAT IS THE CAPACITY AT YOUR LOCAL LAB? NOW, AS WE JUST SAID, THINGS ARE CHANGING. SO NOW WE HAVE THESE BIG COMMERCIAL COMPANIES COMING ON BOARD. SO, QUEST AND LABCORP CAME ON BOARD THIS WEEK, AND THEN ON THE HORIZON, WHICH IS GREAT, ROCHE, WHICH IS A BIG SWISS PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY AND DIAGNOSTICS COMPANY, JUST GOT F.D.A. APPROVAL, AND THERMO FISHER, WHICH IS ANOTHER HUGE COMPANY. SO THAT’S GOING TO BE BIG VOLUME. AND, THAT’S GREAT. I JUST WISH THOSE HAD BEEN READY TO GO A MONTH AGO.>>Sreenivasan: RIGHT, THAT’S ONE OF THE CONCERNS THAT PEOPLE HAVE, IS, OKAY, THAT’S FINE, THREE WEEKS OUT, FOUR WEEKS OUT, IF WE HAVE THESE MILLIONS OF TESTS. BUT WHAT DOES THE VIRUS DO IN THE MEANTIME–>>OH, THE VIRUS IS NOT WAITING.>>Sreenivasan: RIGHT. SO, IS IT– IN THESE THREE OR FOUR WEEKS, SHOULD WE JUST SORT OF DEFAULT TO THAT NOTION THAT, “HEY, LISTEN, IF YOU’RE PRESENTING WITH THE SYMPTOMS, CALL YOUR DOCTOR, DON’T SHOW UP AT A WAITING ROOM RIGHT AWAY.”>>SO, I THINK THE RECOMMENDATION HAS VERY CLEARLY BEEN TO CALL, AND DON’T RUSH INTO A WAITING ROOM OR TO AN E.R., BECAUSE REALLY, THE HOSPITALS NEED TO BE ABLE TO TRIAGE. SO I WOULD SAY, LIKE, LISTEN TO WHATEVER IS BEING TOLD TO YOU IN YOUR AREA, BUT THE ADVICE IS, REALLY PICK UP THE PHONE FIRST.>>Sreenivasan: IF OUR HEALTH IS THE FIRST PRIORITY, THEN WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM HAS TEN WEEKS, THREE MONTHS, SIX MONTHS, TO BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH ALL THE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT GET SICK. BUT THAT ALSO MEANS TEN WEEKS, THREE MONTHS, SIX MONTHS, THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE TAKING THESE SIGNIFICANT PRECAUTIONS AND LIFE CHANGES.>>YEAH, ABSOLUTELY. AND I THINK THE THING THAT… I FEEL LIKE IT’S A BIG TAKE-HOME FROM THAT NOTION OF FLATTENING THE CURVE IS THAT WE ALL HAVE A PART TO PLAY HERE, RIGHT? THAT IT’S NOT THE SORT OF INEVITABLE THING THAT, YOU KNOW, INDIVIDUALS HAVE NOTHING THAT THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE. SO, EVERY ACTION THAT YOU TAKE– YOU KNOW, STAYING HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK, YOU KNOW, MAKING THE CHOICE TO PRACTICE MORE SOCIAL DISTANCING, TO, YOU KNOW, NOT BE IN SOMEONE’S FACE– YOU KNOW, CONTRIBUTES TO FLATTENING THE CURVE. AND I THINK THAT WE ALL CAN PLAY A PART THERE.>>Sreenivasan: YOU KNOW, FOR– THERE’S SORT OF THESE CONVERSATIONS THAT HAPPEN AMONG WHITE COLLAR WORKERS ABOUT WORKING FROM HOME, BUT THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY THAT DON’T HAVE A CHOICE. THEIR JOB INCLUDES BEING IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE AND SERVICING THEM. WE WERE TALKING OFFLINE ABOUT A PHONE CALL THAT YOU WERE GETTING FROM SOMEBODY WHO– TELL US ABOUT THAT.>>YEAH, SO I GOT A PHONE CALL THAT HAS REALLY STUCK WITH ME, FROM SOMEONE WHO WORKS IN A GROCERY STORE IN THE SEATTLE AREA. AND THIS PERSON TOLD ME THAT THEY’RE FAIRLY ELDERLY, AND THEY RELY ON THIS JOB, SO THEY NEED THIS JOB TO WORK, AND THEY’RE NOW SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE, YOU KNOW, CROWDING IN THE STORE, PANIC SHOPPING. AND THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO JUST NOT WORK THE JOB, YOU KNOW. THEY DON’T HAVE A LOT OF PAID TIME OFF. AND THE PERSON WHO CALLED ME SAID, YOU KNOW, “I WOULD LOVE TO JUST GO HOME AND QUARANTINE MYSELF AND BE SAFE, BUT I HAVE TO… TO BE AT WORK. I NEED THIS JOB.” AND THEY JUST FELT LIKE THEY WERE WAITING TO BE INFECTED. AND MY HEART JUST REALLY WENT OUT TO THIS PERSON WHO CALLED ME BECAUSE THEY HAD NO CHOICE.>>Sreenivasan: RIGHT. CAROLINE CHEN FROM PROPUBLICA. THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *