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There is a long way to go

April 16, 2020
By David Kruse - Columnist , Farm News

There is a long way to go

A few days ago, DJT (Donald J. Trump) brought up the expectations for mortality from Coivd-19 in the U.S. in his press conference, claiming to have just seen the numbers for the first time. If true, then Commstock Report subscribers had a look at them before the President of the U.S. as the numbers he gave were pretty close to the "math" that I had shared with them.

Either they were better informed than the president or he was lying again. They said that if we did not flatten the curve, that deaths could top 2.2 million. Dr. Fauci said that if we a good job of flattening the curve by our social distancing that we would significantly reduce Covid-19 deaths. The White House said that they could still range from 100,000-240,000 people. Bill Gates had experts tell him that if we do the best that we can probably do with social distancing that deaths may be closer to 80,000. Dr. Fauci had previously said that he expected 30% of the U.S. population to get Covid-19 in this round of the epidemic and that herd immunity requires close to 70% of the public to get it. The purpose for flattening the curve is to push as many positive cases off into the future with the objectives of not overwhelming health care services and finding a treatment or vaccine in the interim.

Some people are now saying that they will not go out to a restaurant again until there is a vaccine. Despite the numbers I do not think that people entirely have grasped the gravity of what is happening. While the president says that 100,000 or fewer deaths would be "winning", that is because he is always thinking in terms of winning and losing. He is losing so is trying to create parameters by which he can claim a win. The prospects of 100,000-240,000 deaths in this country from Covid-19 will shake this country to the core. There will be tens of thousands of ill Americans separated at the hospital from families and loved ones who will die in the hospital with strangers is protective suits and never be reunited in this life. In death, they will still carry the virus so must remain separated from the healthy and frankly will go up in smoke, ashes to ashes, in a crematorium. I think that the anguish will generate social unrest. Our president is not good at expressing empathy because there is no evidence that he has experienced any. I think that this pandemic will tear our social fabric and lead to further crisis. It will take months to create a vaccine, conquer the logistical hurdle of producing it relative to the global demand and then inoculating the population is a monumental task. The military, public health workers and the elderly will be inoculated first. There is a global perspective here that I will come back to later.

We do not know how many people died of Covid-19 in China, a subject of controversy, but we know that China, South Korea, Taiwan and even Japan were able to flatten the curve better than we appear to be doing. They did that through expanded early testing, which we screwed up, lock downs, tracking, identifying contacts and strict quarantines. With the possible exception of L.A., that did not happen here. People respond to a threat with fight, flight or by freezing. As local populations in eastern and southern U.S. cities were identified as hot spots and told to shelter in place, they instead squirted leaving Dodge ASAP. They needed to get away from all the sick people and acted upon that need. There were 20 full flights from New York to Florida daily. Interstate highway traffic picked up, with Florida patrolmen checking out of state licenses attempting to discourage the flight from where the virus was bringing it with them. Authorities did not track, identify contacts and force quarantines as was done in China. Certainly, our effort to flatten the curve has been imperfect and not world class.

The lack of centralized management of this crisis is a dereliction of duty by the Federal government and the Trump administration. They have been dysfunctional in addressing the crisis from a national perspective. It is a national crisis so that is how it should have been managedfrom a federal rather than state function. The states should have assisted the federal government, rather than the other way around. The federal government should have acted as chief procurer distributing resources to states as they needed them. This was a political decision that ultimately will have cost American lives. The loss in this war so that we could actually lose potentially tens of thousands of Americans, was seated in the lack of preparation that was incompetent and negligent. It is the primary job of the president to keep this country safe and DJT failed to do that at immense cost to the country.

Let's circle back to that global perspective. The areas of the world racked with coronavirus to this point have primarily been in the Northern Hemisphere: Asia, Europe and the U.S. These are highly developed countries with wealth and extensive health care systems. There is nothing to keep the virus in the northern hemisphere and it will next flourish in the Indian Sub-continent, all of Africa and South America. These countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil do not have the financial, technological or health care resources necessary to avert what will be a humanitarian crisis of even larger proportion that what is occurring here. We will barely scrape together the resources in the U.S. to pull through our crisis, certainly not unscathed. Initially there was too much reluctance and foot-dragging against the kind of mobilization that the previous generation employed in WWII. I believe that angst is going to spread with the virus throughout the Southern hemisphere and that there will be a social breakdown there far worse than what occurs here. When there is a vaccine, they will be desperate for it. We have to first win our battle with coronavirus but it is a 'war of the world'. Different from science fiction this virus is killing humans. There is a long way to go before this pandemic subsides.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

 
 

 

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