“Georgia has been a great example of a state that’s done it all right.”

Trump

I’m the former Director of Health Planning for Georgia and spent decades at high executive levels in for profit corporate healthcare. Trump has misled the nation once again when praised Georgia’s response to the virus.

Some social media sites are very accurate regarding COVID-19 information; but most are not, with many on the right showing gross political bias. That causes a lot of misinformation to float around and be self-perpetuating on social media. That misinformation is one reason why Georgia and America are so far behind many other states and nations in their COVID-19 responses.

Here are some “down to earth” fairly easy to understand Pandemic facts:

caricature of Donald Trump was created by DonkeyHotey
  • How well has the USA done in halting the spread of the virus versus the rest of the world: the USA is 4th in population and has 25% of the world’s COVID cases;
  • How much have COVID-19 cases increased in Georgia over the last few months: the figures at CovidTracking.com show a very significant rise in deaths, hospitalizations and cases through 7-23-2020.
  • What are the specific Georgia COVID-19 numbers as of 7/23: Georgia has had almost 152,302 cases with over 15,922 hospitalizations and 3,335 deaths. 
  • How have  Georgia COVID numbers risen over the last few months: on 3-6-2020, there were 0 cases; by 4-1-2020 there were 4,638 cases and 139 deaths; by 5-1-2020, 27,270 cases with 1,154 deaths; by 6-1-2020 47,618 cases and 2,074 deaths; by 7-1-2020, 84,237 cases and 2,827 deaths; by 7-23-2020, cases rose quickly to 152,302 and deaths to 3,335. It appears that for Georgia the final number of cases for July will be double that of June.
  • What is the percent of Americans who get virus and die from COVID-19: 3.7% overall as of 7-20-2020. 
  • What percent of seniors who have the virus die: it’s difficult to obtain CDC’s figures for the USA ( objectively, it should not be, the reader can surmise the politics behind why it is hard to get here in the USA and not in other nations); in Italy, for instance, the rate is 12.8% for those 70-79 and 20.2% for those 80+.
  • What’s “Herd Immunity” for the USA: this means 60%-70% of the American population getting the disease;
  • Which Americans are at high risk: seniors plus those with diabetes, asthma, lung disease, obesity, and many other medical issues.
  • What’s the US Population over 60, seniors: 73 million Americans are over 60 (another 22 million are 55-59).
  • How many other Americans are at high risk: KFF estimates the number to be 41 million (not readily available on the CDC site but it should be, again, the reader can surmise why it is not in the USA but is for other nations).
  • What is the rate of “persistent symptoms” for those recovering? Per a recent JAMA article, 87%.
  • Was there a pre-existing national strategic plan to confront the crisis: Yes, the previous administration’s National Security Council constructed a 69 page “Playbook for Early Response” regarding how to prepare for and contain pandemics. However, it was never used by the current Administration, which has never explained why or had its own plan.
  • What could the USA (and Georgia) have done much earlier to prevent the spread: many things, including but not limited to: establishment of a national strategic plan to fight the epidemic; accurate, coordinated and consistent  information dissemination at the Federal level; early testing, tracing of those infected, isolation of those exposed; national directives to businesses prohibiting them from selling preventive equipment overseas and mandating that they convert production capacities to produce COVID-19 related items (masks, gloves, ventilators, and so forth); and centralized, rational national purchasing/distribution by the Federal government of PPE and supplies used to fight the virus.
  • Is a mask effective: a mask will help to prevent other people from catching the virus from you; there is absolutely no sense in Governor Kemp prohibiting cities from requiring masks; in fact, due to the surge, he should be requiring masks when leaving the home, including in schools.
  • Is social distancing necessary: social distancing is designed to prevent you from being close enough to an infected person to catch the illness; again, there’s no reason (other than politics) why Kemp has not rescinded hos order “reopening” recreational places like bowling allies. 
  • Why isolate young people with the virus: young people are spreading COVID-19, sometimes to high risk groups (parents, grandparents and those with pre-existing conditions).
  • Are there drugs proven effective in treatment of COVID-19: numerous trials are under way, but there is no medically accepted “miracle cure” (and that includes hydroxychloroquine).
  • Are there any home remedies that can prevent or cure COVID-19: no, including ingesting/shooting bleach, using hand dryers, rinsing with saline, taking antibiotics, bathing and going out into the sun or cold.

    There are many other common misconceptions about the virus. Surprisingly, these misconceptions still exist six months after the virus hit our shores. The reader can make his or her own conclusions about why these incorrect assumptions are so widespread based on the facts listed above, including failure to act on the national and state levels.

    The reader must also make an evaluation of where we in the US (and Georgia) stand versus other developed nations/states regarding our virus preparation and response. It is critical that your assessment be factored into your vote in November if we expect improvement in both the response to this virus, which will be with us for many years, and other state and national emergencies.
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Image Credit: the feature caricature of Donald Trump was created by DonkeyHotey (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.