We don't have a pandemic exit strategy, but we should

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 18, 2020, 4:39 PM | comments: 0

As we get six months into the US side of the pandemic, the striking thing is that we have no exit strategy. We know a lot more than we did early on. Remember when everyone was concerned that every surface was a transmission vector? Now we know that's not really true, but we know that masks are a pretty great mitigation tactic, and interior shared spaces are less than ideal.

Right now though, the American mentality (insert "herd mentality" Trump joke here) is that the exit strategy is there's a vaccine and a week later we all go licking door knobs. Of course, the scientists, drug makers and everyone qualified to be an expert says, no, the ramp for manufacturing and distribution even once approvals are granted by the FDA will be far from instantaneous. Once we understand the efficacy of the vaccines, there will likely be a necessary regimen for additional booster dosages, and mask protocols will not go away for some time greater than what people really understand. In fact, that's one of the key things missing, is a plan for science-based reopening of certain services and the gradual off-ramping of mitigation protocols in general. While part of that should rely in part of the vaccine trial results, it's not impossible to start mapping the strategy out, even if it doesn't have all the details. The benchmarks at which you take action will likely be the same regardless of the trial outcomes.

But we don't have any of this.

This isn't surprising at this point. The Trump administration has been useless in responding to the pandemic, which is why our outcomes are generally worse than most of Europe. Today there was email evidence that CDC scientists were silenced because the extent of the problem is not convenient for the president. None of this changes the underlying fact that the pandemic simply doesn't go away. We can't turn everything back to "normal" instantaneously, but we can get there with less sickness and death, and do it faster, than if we just wing it.

Because there is no realistic way out in the next four months, we could really use some guidance by experts who can tell us what the ideal path is for the holidays. People traveling around we know introduces certain risks, but are there ways to mitigate them? That's not a political issue, we just need to know how to keep our immuno-compromised grandma safe. But you'll never hear anything from Washington about it.

The fascism and racism are certainly things I can do without, but honestly, right now we could really use someone with the most basic abilities to understand what it means to govern like a responsible adult. That's what you should be voting for this year. (Hint: It's not for the guy that wants to protect you from the brown people who are not a threat in the first place.)


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