We should adjust our response based on the data. Instead, we have decided to keep people at home. Everything we have studied about quarantine, typically we quarantine the sick. We have never seen where we quarantine the healthy.
We are taking the people without disease and without symptoms and locking them in their homes. Some things we know from immunology and microbiology are not meshing with the actions we are taking. We initially took action from fear not factual data.
Moving past fear based response
We did not know what is going on when we saw this new virus. How should we respond? Over the last couple of months we had to concentrate on the acquisition of data. For example: There is information from California. It shows one county has test results from 5213 people. Of the tests they found 340 positives for coronavirus.
That means in about 6.5% of the suspect cases, people seeking treatment, there is confirmation. This indicates there is a wide spread viral infection similar to flu. So how wide spread is it in this county? How wide spread is it in this state? How should we be responding to coronavirus based on its prevalence?
Well, additionally, in the state of California there were at the time 33,865 coronavirus cases. Out of a total of 280,900 tested individuals. That means 12% of Californians were positive for coronavirus. The initial models of the coronavirus were grossly inaccurate. The prediction was for millions of deaths. Not millions of cases, millions of deaths. That is not materializing.
In California the testing shows 12% of the people are positive. There are about 39,700,000 residents of the state. Extrapolating that out indicates there are 4.76 million people positive for coronavirus. The inference is the virus is widespread.
Additionally, there are 1,227 deaths among the population at the same point in time. What that means is you have a 0.03% chance of dying from coronavirus in California.
Of the people who get coronavirus in California 96% recover with no significant medical issues. Ninety six percent of all cases do not require or seek medical treatment. Is this sample large enough to be statistically significant? It is. Two month ago we did not know this. Today we do.
Is New Hampshire as reasonable as California?
Does that necessitate sheltering in place? Why does this necessitate shutting down the medical system? Does that necessitate people being out of work? What indications will lead to a change in approach? Is what we are seeing in New Hampshire significantly different than California?
Do we have more data here than is available in California? Why did the governor set up a re-open task force? Why did he then announce the decision would be made by public health officials? Shutting down New Hampshire was a fear based political decision. Should we allow the governor to dodge responsibility for decision making?
He made the decision to close the state down. He made the decision to suspend civil liberties. The committee creation is deflecting his responsibility to undo what he has done. The legislature too bears responsibility in this. It has delegated authority for quarantine to NH HHS.
There is no emergent public health crisis from coronavirus. It is time to lift the declaration of the state of emergency and pursuant executive orders. If there are hot spots they should be dealt with locally. The public policy response has been less than what should be considered optimal. It is time to adjust our response based on the data and to let my people go.