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It’s Time to Sound the Alarm

The United States is woefully ill-prepared for a global pandemic.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. Since then, the United States has been particularly slow in providing tests and taking proactive steps to contain this virus.

As I’m writing this, It’s 6:45 am Chinese Standard Time March 23, 2020, here in Taiwan. 

I woke up to the news that the United States has added, at the time of this writing, 9,027 cases since yesterday. The US has moved into third place in the number of cases, behind China and Italy. 

I’m trying to piece together what is going on. Mostly the US has been focused on isolation, when and how to do that, and hand washing. That position is way behind the curve. 

PLEASE listen to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines listed below:

 

  • Wash your hands frequently

 

  • Maintain social distancing

 

  • Practice respiratory hygiene

 

  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

 

  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

 

  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

 

  • Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

 

  • Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

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  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover

 

  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. 

 

The US is one of the places that is not testing enough people, according to WHO. There are multiple reasons for this. Some places simply do not have enough kits and they have enacted protocols in hopes of testing those who need it most but that is NOT what WHO suggests as the way to go. “Test, test, test.” But if you test more without enough test kits the situation will have the same outcome of not enough people being tested.

Some places, like my home state of West Virginia, are in a Catch-22. They were not given enough tests so their cases SEEM low and because their numbers were low, it was determined they needed fewer tests. This leaves over a million people vulnerable from one state alone. 

Also, states have been told they should be the ones to purchase their own test and PPE, only to be outbid for those supplies by the Federal Government. Also, this is pitting states against one another as they scramble for supplies. Frontline workers MUST have the supplies they need to do their jobs, saving lives, properly.

Another reason this virus spreads quickly is because there may be a large number of people who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms (which makes them ineligible for testing in a bid to conserve tests). LA County health officials have advised doctors to not test most people, telling doctors to test only if a positive result would change how the patient is treated. . 

The problem with this is the US runs the risk of not listing the accurate number of cases and COVID 19 deaths not being listed as such. This gives a false sense of security, making the death toll appear lower. As hospitals run out of supplies, autopsies to find out or tests run after the fact will be put on the back burner. Our credibility as a nation will be similar to that of China, as we still are skeptical if we have all the information out of China and if what we have is accurate. This could possibly lead to a devolving panic situation. When people in the States wake up one morning to a HUGE jump in the death toll. 

I have been using three trackers and to date, they all seem accurate they just update their numbers at different times. The first one has a great deal of information, including tracking the trajectory of likely outcomes. 

 

 

 

 

I know legislation has been passed, but it does no good if the measures within that legislation are never activated. And despite some claims, including claims from President Donald Trump, no vaccine is ready for use and we are looking at 12-18 months before that may happen.WHO’s website has a myth-busting section that warns that neither hot temperature nor cold may affect the spread of this virus. 

But also, IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, people in the United States are getting unclear advice on mask-wearing. WHO suggests wearing a mask if you know you have the virus or are dealing with someone who may have the virus. BUT without proper testing, those who are experiencing mild symptoms or are asymptomatic may not know they have it. There is no harm in wearing a mask, except for the supply and those on the frontlines; nurses, doctors, EMT/EMS personnel, etc are left without proper PPE. This is something that the Federal Government should have been addressing last month. 

Here are the WHO guidelines on proper mask usage.

 

 


I base my opinion on my experience here in Taiwan. Mask wearing, proper handwashing, and hand sanitizer were the main public measures taken early. Then there was the addition of temperature taking before entering public buildings The cases here were at a practical standstill until cases were brought into the country from those who had been abroad. #TaiwanCanHelp can be found on Twitter.

This is also the right time to look at officially recognizing Taiwan in the United Nations. They have demonstrated they do, indeed, function independently of China and in this case have shown proactive measures that possibly saved millions of lives. They are waiting to help the world. The world needs to take notice.  

This virus is horrific and doing everything we can to stop its spread is truly our best line of defense because once we have totally lost control of the spread what waits is a nightmare. Here are some stories that give us just a hint of the horror to come: 

 

 

 

 

Also WHO has warned that although numbers were low for the younger generation, young adults are not impervious to this virus

Keep pressure on the federal government. While I watch other countries in the process of constructing medical units to be used for the overflow of patients, the US is “talking” about “plans”. 

Most recently, this administration is just now sending aid to three states. This is a move in the right direction but it is not enough. What of the 47 other states, how many cases or deaths will trigger aid for them? 

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security based on numbers or what you hear out of the mouths of officials who DO NOT have your best interests at heart. 

My intent is not to cause undue panic, but sometimes it is the right time to sound the alarm and I truly believe now is one of those times. Don’t let anxiety freeze you, get as proactive as possible. 

Before this article was published the numbers had another alarming jump. As of March 24, 2020, 10:44 a.m. Chinese Standard time, more than 10k cases have been added bringing known cases to 43,734 and the death toll rose by 140 people taking the death toll up to 553 people in the United States. 

Stay safe and help keep others safe.

[This Post Will Be Updated As New Information Becomes Available]

 

Jami Miller contributed to this article.

 

Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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