Enough Is Enough, Raimondo Needs to Lead on Coronavirus - Nick Landekic

Monday, November 09, 2020

 

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Enough is enough

Friday 630 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 more deaths were reported in Rhode Island. It was another record high for cases, though most days now set new records. The past week has averaged 491 cases per day, an increase of 59% compared with two weeks ago.

There have been a total of 36,380 COVID-19 cases and 1,224 deaths in Rhode Island so far. Since the beginning of September, when the pandemic started to spiral out of control – and the time when containment measures should have been implemented – there have been 13,931 people diagnosed with COVID-19. Thousands of those could be burdened with potentially life-long debilitating health problems such as heart damage, cognitive impairment, or chronic fatigue. If the 3.4% mortality rate continues, it could mean about 474 more people condemned to die just since September. And the numbers only continue to increase every day, with no end in sight.

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Just from the mismanagement of the pandemic over the past two months, potentially thousands of people with long-term debilitating health problems and maybe 500 deaths seems like a very steep price to pay for political vanity. I cannot imagine many of those people would have been willing to become sick, incapacitated, or die, for the Governor’s pride.

covidactnow.org, a non-profit multidisciplinary team of technologists, epidemiologists, and public health experts affiliated with Harvard, Stamford, and Georgetown Universities, has again revised their projections for Rhode Island. Over the next year they now predict an estimated total of 900,000 infections, affecting a staggering 85% of the population of the state. This means that unless dramatic action is taken now, almost everyone in Rhode Island could become infected over the next year. There could be very few people left who don’t become infected.

The pandemic is now far worse than it was in April when Rhode Island was experiencing about 300-375 cases per day. At that time the sensible measures needed to safeguard health and save lives were put in place. Yet now, when the pandemic is raging even more out of control, Governor Raimondo responds with useless acts such as closing workplace breakrooms, and yesterday equally likely to be pointless and ineffective tokens as asking people to stay home between 10 pm and 5 am and restaurants to stop serving then as well. Despite being in a catastrophic health crisis, we are still in a modified state of Phase 3 opening.

The coronavirus is not nocturnal. It doesn’t only come out at night. It’s silly to fantasize that these follies will turn the course of the pandemic. As much as we would all love an easy fix, it’s just not that simple, especially when things have been allowed to get as completely out of control as they are now. Denial and pretending have never worked against the virus.

These are not just abstract numbers on a spreadsheet. Every one of these numbers is a person, who could become very ill, be left with life-long health problems, or die. Any one of us could become one of these numbers.

It’s actually fairly simple: allowing people to gather in contained spaces with few masks is a guaranteed recipe for infection. The virus doesn’t care about political arrogance, how tired we are, or any other excuses. It doesn’t give a ‘pass’ for family or friends. If people congregate indoors without masks infection will spread. If we want to control the pandemic - as Vermont has done, as well as many countries around the world including New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, and even China – there is only one way to do it, and it’s not by pretending and playing around with ridiculous games.

Enough is enough. Haven’t enough people become ill, and died, for the sake of political arrogance? It is long past time to do the only things that will contain the pandemic, that have been shown to work in other places. It’s time to put aside fantasies and face reality, and do what must be done to save our lives: we must start over, with a stay at home order for everyone; returning schools to remote learning only; allowing only take-out service or outdoor dining at restaurants; close bars and non-essential businesses; and require mask wearing at all times outside the home. When the rate of infections is brought down and stays down, then reopening can carefully restart, following science-based guidelines this time and not financial pressures or egos.

This would not be forever. Some people cry about the economic pain of such closures, but experience has shown that the cost of closing for a couple of months now is less than what will happen if we don’t. There is no way out of this disastrous predicament without paying a price. Wouldn’t we rather pay some financial costs now, rather than risk far greater costs and potentially paying the ultimate price later?

Let’s do this together. Let’s be the next Vermont (they’re averaging 23 cases a day to our 491) and not North Dakota. Let’s do things right now so that by this coming spring or summer, we can be enjoying a similar kind of reasonable safety and functioning economy that Vermont is, rather than being a failed state where almost everyone has contracted the virus.

The choice is ours. Pretending it’s not a problem, or fantasizing that pointless gestures will save us, has not worked. It’s only made things much worse. The hundreds of people getting sick every day are blunt reminders of the price of wishful thinking. Do we all want to succumb to the virus because of political ego, or do we want to live?

Write to the Governor: governor@governor.ri.gov and tell her to do the right things, that eventually must be done anyway. Let’s protect health and lives and do them now. The life you save may be your own. 

Nick Landekic a retired scientist and biotechnology executive with over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

Enough is enough

Friday 630 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 more deaths were reported in Rhode Island. It was another record high for cases, though most days now set new records. The past week has averaged 491 cases per day, an increase of 59% compared with two weeks ago.

 

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