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COVID 19 News Day 5 – The Truth? Whose Truth?

We are now approaching a million COVID19 cases worldwide, led by the United States with over 200,000.   Almost 50,000 deaths as of this morning, probably over 50,000 by the time I finish breakfast.  This thing is gaining steam, as they said it would.  Maybe we’ll start to see the effects of social distancing soon, maybe the rate of increase will drop — maybe, maybe, maybe.

Have you been trying to make sense of this all?  I have, and I can’t.  If you can, let me know.  Very reputable sources say quite different things.  Some say the “Case Fatality Rate (CFR)” is probably very low, much lower than it appears now because we are not able to test all those who may have contracted COVID19, some of whom won’t even show symptoms.  CFR simply means the number of persons who are likely to die once they contract the virus.  The argument is that most CFR reports are based only on identified cases, which may be only a tiny fraction of the actual number of active cases out there.  This skewed assessment (they argue) gives us frighteningly inflated CFR of 3.4 percent or more.  Others say we may be underestimating the CFR!   They point to Italy and say that even the shockingly high CFR of approximately 7.2% percent reported there may be even higher because some (even many) COVID19 fatalities were not recorded or reported.   What seems evident is the impact of the virus varies significantly from region to region, nation to nation.  We should expect a third-world country like the United States, without a rational health care system and with gross inequities of wealth limiting access to testing and treatment, to be very hard hit.  Many people will die in Trump’s America because their president is a dangerous ignoramus who inhibits the work of intelligent and responsible people in major government agencies who are qualified to address emergencies.   The challenge now is to work around him so his negligence and incompetence do not undermine sensible efforts to contain the damages of his infantile dithering.  Fiddling while Rome burns.

Preparedness v. Efficiency

Here in Canada, although our government is doing comparatively well, we are still facing the dire consequences of bad policies.  Our health care system is showing early signs of strain – we have shortages of PPE for nurses and health care workers, not enough ventilators, not enough swabs.  We decided to manage our health care system on the principal of efficiency not preparedness.  Preparedness means some surplus and redundancy, more than you need day-to-day for the day when you do need it.  Efficiency means the absolute minimum needed to do the ordinary job adequately.  That is how we have managed most of our public tax-supported services, on the cheap.  Now we are seeing the consequences.  Let Rogers build palatial centres in Toronto and Halifax that look like the works of Pharaoh but hospitals and clinics must keep costs down, down, down.  Well, we did keep them down, and now we see what that means in the day of reckoning.  We are not prepared; we are not even efficient.  When this crisis is over, we need to have a reset of our values as well as our policies.


Several of my colleagues have used that word “reset” to describe what this crisis might require.  It’s a computer metaphor, of course.  Turn off the machine, let it go black, and restart.  Wipe out debt, cut superfluous industries, promote increased social cooperation, increase taxation, distribute, share, restore.  Another colleague uses an even simpler word – rest.  Let the frenzied monstrosity seize up and falter so it can calm itself and restore balance – like the Hebrew conception of Jubilee, a day of deliverance from bondage, some of it self-imposed.  Far-fetched?  Maybe.  Maybe not.