The field hospital style model being built at the Javits center -- and many other places, including what used to be called Cobo Hall in Detroit -- has promise as a means of treating people.
But -- it is not being thought through anywhere near at a sufficient level of detail.
This is very much the TB Sanitarium model as a means of pandemic response, but it is missing one critical element: During those years when the Sanitariums were operating if you worked there you were someone who had TB and recovered -- and were thus immune.
And this leads back to what I was talking about yesterday: If you ignore one of what appears to be a major vector for this disease out of a sense of hero worship and then amplify it with field hospitals you will create an all-on disaster.
There is currently no mass-test available for antibodies. We need one -- an OTC, anyone can buy it cassette style test. We have them available for diabetics; they run them every day on multiple occasions. There are even "home" A1c tests; same deal and those are even more-correlated as there is a reagent required with those as well (not just blood as with the routine sugar-level checks.)
This is critical for two groups: At risk Americans and health care workers.
Simply put with an antibody test those who have had the virus and recovered, and thus have antibodies, can safely work in those wards. It then becomes a matter of routine decontamination before leaving (it may require a hot shower and soap, but that's reasonable) before departing for the day. Other than direct transport of infectious material once immune you're "safe" in the general public even if exposed to sick individuals.
This is the key group, because one hospital worker can infect dozens of others. Oh, I know, they'd neeeeevvvvveeerrr do that. Except the data is that they are doing it right now. It's either that or we've got a bunch of so-called "essential" folks doing the transmitting -- and we're ****ed, because you cannot cut off the grocery stores and such.
For at-risk Americans however seropositive status isn't about getting other people sick -- it's about their personal life. Just because you're at high risk it doesn't mean you didn't have an asymptomatic infection. You might have. For example it's implausible that the older couple on Diamond Princess who were quarantined in their cabin resulted in one infected and one not unless the individual who didn't get the virus seroconverted and was thus immune.
Further, if you know you're seroconverted then giving the finger immediately to President Trump, your Mayor, your Governor and everyone else in terms of your personal activity is not only appropriate -- it's a matter of civil and personal rights. If you have seroconverted (that is, you were infected and are now immune) then there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to abide any restrictions or constraints -- not ethically, morally or legally.
Of course this is why nobody wants you to be able to go and buy one of these tests at the local store. If you learn your seroconversion status then it renders all this "community" nonsense flat-out false since anyone can choose otherwise with absolute safety both on a personal and public basis.
Second, the facts on the ground are that only 10-15% of those who wind up on vents can be saved. Everyone else dies anyway, so that's what we're talking about here. If the facts are that 100,000 people are going to die then they are; we're now talking about a delta of 10,000 people or less than 1/5th of a moderate flu season in exchange for half the small businesses and an intentional economic depression being taken.
It is fine to urge people to "socially distance." It is fine to urge the elderly to shelter in place. It's even ok to ban mass-gatherings; after all, if there was a shooting war on would you allow theaters to operate with their lit marquees as the bombers flew overhead -- would that not be literally painting a target on hundreds of Americans at once?
But when you force closed businesses you do something that was not done even during actual wars. Businesses had their production diverted (those who lived through WWII were unable to buy tires for their cars as they were requisitioned for jeeps in battle) but actually forcing businesses closed? No. People went out, or not, as they deemed worth it during those times. A bomber might come. An air raid could happen with little or no warning. People in Britain faced V2s that were launched from German territory on a daily basis.
Some people decided to wait out the war in a bunker, cowering in fear but others went to work, baked bread and went about their businesses. The Allies won the war because we did not destroy our economy cowering in the corner at the point of a federal or state government gun.
Every time you claim some firm or operation or job is not "essential" that is someone who you destroy. You do it on the claim that it will keep others from dying, but that's speculative. You do not know -- you have a model, and it might be right or it might be wrong. The facts are that even without an overloaded medical system in the US today the data is that roughly 9 out of 10 people who wind up on a vent with this virus die anyway. That's the maximum size of the group you can save; everyone else has their path through this virus determined; if they're going to be ok, then they will, and if they would die on a vent they will still die without a vent.
Nothing changes for all but that tiny group of people.
Further, even if the system overloads and triage is appropriate or even necessary those who decide to operate their factory or go about their day knowing that a bomber might appear or a V2 might fall on their head made the decision.
They acted as adults, which is their right in any free society.
We no longer live in a free society.
Maybe you think that's worth it, but how many people will commit suicide? How many people will decide to drug or drink themselves to death? How many old people who are cooped up in the last year of their life die anyway without the social interaction and enjoyment of their friends? Death comes to us all and why is it my right to tell you as an older person that you must live with no visitors for your last two months in a nursing home because everyone is barred from coming to see you? What if you would choose to take the risk and enjoy time with your family members?
WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO FORCE A SENIOR INTO ISOLATION AGAINST THEIR WILL?
Is this a free nation or a National Gulag?
THAT is what nobody is taking into account.
And, of course, we have Sweden. A nation that has looked at the very same data and the same experts our government has and refused to lock down and has told their citizens that they are adults and are expected to act like one. If they turn out to be right and we are wrong then whether this is a nation and people that deserves any respect, down to a single person, depends on whether one of the people involved in these decisions retains their jobs, their homes, their pensions, their jobs, even their underwear.
It will not be long before we know whether this was justified -- or whether Sweden was right and we were wrong.