From Harvard Global Health Institute
Pandemics Explained and where testing targets should go
Great resource/graph of USA
Misinformation is a problem
Uncertainty is at the heart of disease outbreaks. There is so much we don’t know. Which pathogen is the culprit, how deadly is it, how many people are infected? New information comes in small pieces, and needs to be verified. But how? In early February, news spread on Twitter that a doctor — one of the eight who had been reprimanded weeks earlier by Chinese authorities for sounding the alarm about a new disease — had died. But was it true?
Sadly, it was. Fact checkers were wary at first, because the initial source was unclear, and because there had already been so much misinformation: The wave of false claims about infection rates as high as 2.8 million people, for example. Or the persistently shared falsehoods that the virus was a) a biological weapon that had leaked from a bio security laboratory in Wuhan or b) smuggled out of Canada by Chinese scientists. (See this Buzzfeed story for more on the early hoax mayhem.)
Outbreaks always attract fear-mongering, rumors and conspiracy theories. Political realities, such as China’s all-encompassing grip on information sharing and thorough censorship, always play a role. (MIT’s Technology Review has an important story about how Chinese crowdsourcers are fighting coronavirus censorship to chronicle the outbreak.)
The key stat is community transmissions. This is the number that is meaningful to most residents. The big three stats are institutional transmissions (prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes), border transmissions (people with covid coming into the state), and community transmissions (people in the state infecting each other because of poor social distancing). Each requires a different intervention and each is of interest to different intervention specialists). Have to get pragmatic.
“We still have to do more tests,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, noting the state is meeting its stated goal of conducting 60,000 to 80,000 tests a day.
A spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health said the state’s testing capacity will continue increasing but did not specifically address the Harvard figures.
Dr. Thomas Tsai, a surgeon and health policy expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, cautioned that the new goals are more like goal posts that can shift as case rates change. If measures like wearing masks and social distancing are able to bring case rates down, for instance, less testing will be needed.