Calculated Risk Comments on COVID-19 Non-Medical Policies

Share this author Bill McBride breaks down some excellent thoughts on what the U.S. government can be doing, and in fact should be doing, to limit the human and economic scope and tragedy of the unfolding SARS-CoV-2 COVID19 outbreak in this country:

Containment of COVID-19 has failed as was expected by most experts (but efforts delayed the onset). (examples: Washington, Oregon, California) I’ll stay focused on the economic data, however, just as during the housing crisis, I will suggest some (non-medical) government policies that would probably help.

First and foremost, pay attention to the recommendations of the experts. Here is the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 site. And here is the WHO’s COVID-19 website.

Also pay attention to your state and local health officials.

Here is the CDC’s site for Prevention & Treatment….

First, Let the experts brief the public, not politicians. In 1918, “happy talk” delayed action and cost lives. See: How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America

While influenza bled into American life, public health officials, determined to keep morale up, began to lie.

Early in September, a Navy ship from Boston carried influenza to Philadelphia, where the disease erupted in the Navy Yard. The city’s public health director, Wilmer Krusen, declared that he would “confine this disease to its present limits, and in this we are sure to be successful. No fatalities have been recorded. No concern whatever is felt.”

The next day two sailors died of influenza. Krusen stated they died of “old-fashioned influenza or grip,” not Spanish flu. Another health official declared, “From now on the disease will decrease.”

The next day 14 sailors died—and the first civilian. Each day the disease accelerated. Each day newspapers assured readers that influenza posed no danger. Krusen assured the city he would “nip the epidemic in the bud.”

And from the SacBee on another health crisis: Long before coronavirus, bubonic plague panicked California. A cover-up toppled the governor

When the plague came to San Francisco, business and government leaders were afraid of undermining the city’s shipping trade with Asia. Gov. Henry Tifft Gage repeatedly tried to discredit the federal government scientist who was trying to curtail the pandemic — even accusing him of starting the crisis by planting plague bacteria on cadavers. At the same time, Gage helped suppress an independent medical report confirming that bubonic plague was present in San Francisco.

“It was pretty crazy. There was a widespread cover-up,” said Marilyn Chase, a UC Berkeley lecturer and author of “The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco.”

In its official history of the case, the National Institutes of Health called it “one of the most infamous chapters in U.S. public health history.” […]

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