It’s All About the Prevalence

As some asshole with a blog noted, medical historians will look back at the U.S. response and be absolutely stunned that the U.S. focused on fourteen-day declines*, instead of devising prevalence and percent positive rate benchmarks. Lest you think this is some crazy idea promulgated solely by the Mad Biologist, we’ll outsource this to journalist Neil deMause (boldface mine):

…one of the things that epidemiologists are saying very clearly is, If you do want to reopen schools, far more important than paying attention to how much hand sanitizer there is on hand, is make sure there isn’t a lot of virus out there that people can be catching, right? That’s how it’s worked in other countries, in Europe and Asia, where they have started reopening schools. It’s much safer to do it if the virus isn’t running wild out in the community.

That is a lesson that seems to be really, really hard for everybody to understand, is that, when you’re talking about containment, when you’re talking about trying to get the viral levels down, it’s not even just about saving people from getting sick or dying right now. It’s about getting us back to a point where we can keep the virus at a very low level, so that you can start to do some things and reopen the economy and reopen schools, and maybe reopen offices and other indoor things (even though indoors is very dangerous), because you’ve created the context for that.

It’s all about the prevalence. When the virus is very rare, it means we can start to do normal-ish activities, since the odds of encountering an infected person are very rare (yes, this is obvious, but seems to have escaped many policy makers).

Unfortunately, nowhere in the U.S., other than American Samoa and the Northern Marianas Islands, are at that level of prevalence, so, as a prominent local politician put it, it is what it is.

*Which were typically honored in the breach, anyway.

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1 Response to It’s All About the Prevalence

  1. Rick says:

    Oregon is at least talking about prevalence when it comes to school openings. Though there are way too many exceptions for small counties (several of which have prevalence over 0.10), it’s a good start.

    The governor held a press conference yesterday where she appeared (to me anyway) to be upset that the metrics she set aren’t being met, but only threatened to close bars, indoor restaurants, and clubs if people don’t shape up.

    – Rick in Oregon

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