Seattle, we have a (Covid-19) Problem


Three days later, and three days further into researching the likely scenarios, and we’re at the point in the Covid-19 outbreak equivalent to Apollo 13 where the famous line was spoken, “Houston, we have a problem.”

As of today, Monday, March 9, 2020, there are 162 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 22 dead. Plus positive cases in every neighboring county.

Simple math… dividing 22 by 162 shows a mortality rate of 13.5%. That is far higher than the 4% in Italy and orders of magnitude higher than the 0.6% in South Korea. The difference isn’t a more lethal strain in Washington, the difference is that they are testing people potentially exposed in Italy and proactively testing a wider population in South Korea.

We have just two choices for how to deal with this outbreak:

Option A. Continue to only test the people who walk into the hospital with a cough and a fever, and only test the people at the nursing homes who are under respiratory distress. If we do this, the outbreak will continue to grow exponentially until everyone who can get infected does get infected.

Option B. Begin massive, county-wide testing. Everyone who might have come in contact with any known case. Everyone in Jefferson, Kitsap, Pierce, Kittitas, and Grant counties, so that those single digit cases don’t become outbreaks. We need to move from “community” cases with unknown origins to known transmission that can be stopped with targeted quarantines.

If we don’t move to Option B by next week, the only option is Option A, and with that Seattle will be locked down like Wuhan and Lombardy by the end of March, Washington State locked down like Italy by April, and the whole U.S. following our lead city by city in April, May, and June.

Social distancing, working from home, and washing hands will slow the infection rate, but that will just give the virus a chance to make it through the summer months and become an annual disease.

The only way we can stop the virus and prevent that possibility is to begin widespread testing ASAP. Three weeks ago would have been simpler and easier and less expensive. Three weeks from now will be harder and more expensive, if not simply too late.

If Washington DC and the CDC can’t to this. If Olympia can’t do this. Then lucky for Seattle we have Bill Gates, as at least he’s trying.

More in this series:

More in this series:

Post #1: The 2020 Epidemic: Coronavirus
Post #2: Seattle, we have a (Covid-19) Problem
Post #3: Just Three (Viral) Weeks Ago
Post #4: Isolated in Seattle
Post #5: Impossible Until it Happens
Post #6: What a mild (and moderate) case of Covid-19 feels like
The rest in #Pandemic

By "Luni"


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