After seven weeks in coronavirus lockdown, I’m itchin’ to be outside and getting on with life. Spring has arrived gloriously here in Treviso, yet I only can leave our flat to put out the trash bins and go to the neighborhood grocery (fully armored with mask and gloves). Technically, I think we’re allowed to stay within twenty meters of our front door, but I’ve been erring on the side of extreme caution and staying indoors. I content myself to drink in the sun and watch life from our narrow balcony. Two of our cats usually keep me company.
The idea of rushing into anything right now (other than implementing widespread Covid 19 testing) is dangerous, and the consequences (a big uptick) could be significant. I understand the desire to get the economy going again, but rushing, motivated by wishful thinking and half-baked facts, isn’t prudent.
As we celebrated Easter at home this past Sunday, we listened to the bells of the Duomo, which is shuttered until at least May 3. During the day, I went through my photo archive to reminisce about the most remarkable Easter celebration that I’ve experienced—this one in Sulmona, Abruzzo. That’s “La Madonna che Scappa” – The Madonna who runs (Read my blog post about the experience). I was quite blessed to have a press pass (thanks to Santa Novelia), and I captured the above image at the crucial moment when the men bearing the mourning Mary dashed across Piazza Garibaldi to the newly-revealed resurrected Jesus.
This scene epitomizes flawless, coordinated rushing. If only we were ready to rush towards a resurrection from Covid 19.
Heading downhill on the Covid 19 bell curve doesn’t mean “All’s clear.”
Getting overly excited about this can get REALLY dangerous. At least we’re not seeing most curves throughout the world still heading north. That’s cause for celebration but not imprudence. In Italy, we’re on a painfully slow downhill track. As in many other places, we need several more days to confirm that a plateau or downward trend sticks and can inspire confidence.
Most people know that Covid 19 is very, very contagious. Its reproduction ratio (RO) is estimated to be 2 to 3. Read more about RO on Wikipedia. For every infected person (included asymptomatic), they infect an average of 2+ people. Do the math of doubling and redoubling, and so on. Get the picture as to why this coronavirus spread so invisibly, quickly, and insidiously? For the sake of comparison, the seasonal flu has a RO of 1.3, and it is nowhere as deadly.
“Scientists use RO – the reproduction number – to describe the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak. RO estimates have been an important part of characterizing pandemics or large publicized outbreaks, including the 2003 SARS pandemic, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. It’s something epidemiologists are racing to nail down about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.” — Joseph Eisenberg, PhD, MPH, Michigan Medicine (read the full article).
When the above-mentioned article was published, not quite a month ago, there were only 9,415 cases of Covid 19 in the States. Yes, scary.
Rushing too quickly back to our former lives isn’t going to get the Covid 19 genie back in the bottle.
Only since March 26 has Italy seen its curves (new cases and deaths) level out and start a slow descent. Yes, it’s cause for optimism but we’re a long way from being out of the woods. That’s why we know that our lockdown won’t change materially until at least May 3. That’s almost three weeks away, and we got started well before most of the United States.
And, let’s not forget that in late January, Wuhan China began probably the most severe lockdown we’ve seen in this pandemic. Just now has the city started gradually opening up again. Meanwhile, a new Russia-originated outbreak has entered China and lockdown measures similar to Wuhan’s have begun. Yikes!
Have we been playing Whack-A-Mole?
It sure feels like it. You would’ve thought after witnessing China’s Covid 19 disaster that Italy and other countries would have hopped to it and done anything to be caught unawares. Then came the Italy explosion. Shouldn’t that have been enough for people to swing into action more strategically and proactively to avoid trying to implement things too quickly in an attempt to blunt this pandemic?
Taking a relaxed approach isn’t the answer. Sweden, who didn’t enforce any restrictions, is now rethinking its approach as the fatality rate well surpasses neighboring countries. Read the Forbe’s article by David Nikel, “Sweden: 22 Scientists Say Coronavirus Strategy Has Failed as Deaths Top 1,000.”
That’s what I keep saying to myself. Stick with the program, even after some of the current restrictions are lifted. I don’t want to put myself or anyone else in harm’s way. I believe that we need to know a TON more, have an effective treatment strategy and have…
Widespread testing firmly in place.
I will say this until I am blue in the face. Without widespread testing, we will not know the real spread of Covid 19. Especially in the absence of a vaccine, how will we be certain where the risks lie and protect ourselves accordingly? How will we not live in a constant state of paranoia?
I’m not ready to rush into anything right now. I’ll gladly choose playing it safe versus risking who-knows-what? Any intelligent person who takes the time to study the multitude of known and emerging factors of Covid 19 will understand how this highly-infectious virus can be off and running again if we rush back to our former ways.