And here I’ve been so pleased with how Governor Little has handled things here in Idaho. The long awaited “testing” plan was released and it’s garbage. Of course, who am I? A whole lot of people with “Dr.” in their name wrote the thing! Of course, whether they’re a Doctor of Basket Weaving isn’t totally clear but for the moment we’ll assume they are somewhat qualified in the field of public health.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no one — that would be zero — people in the hospital here in Idaho with Covid-19. The problem we’re having in Idaho are food processing plants where people are in close contact and where it’s not uncommon to find extended family members working together.
Public health officials have identified another large coronavirus outbreak at an Idaho food processing facility — this time in the Magic Valley. https://t.co/SNk51x0sTJ
— Times-News (@twinfallstn) May 22, 2020
You’d expect the new plan to focus on this wouldn’t you? Of course, it doesn’t but rather proposes vastly increasing the overall testing within the state so that you’d have a lot more tests. So rather than going to where the outbreaks are likely to occur, let’s tests randomly and see if that helps. Of course, it’s not “random” either but rather by groups that are more “essential” than other groups. God save us from experts!
The state wants to increase the number of tests to 150K per week from 4K a week that’s currently being done. Once someone wrote this down, they should have said “well that’s not going to happen!” But as good bureaucrats, they plow right ahead!
What are all the tests for? Testing of asymptomatic people of course! Why, I dunno. Of course, if you’re in public health, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
The fatal flaw is in testing asymptomatic people where there’s no clear thing you’re actually going to do if they test positive.
Priority 3 (approximately 43,000 tests/week)
20K tests/week of ASYMPTOMATIC employees of critical infrastructure or essential businesses with high volume public-facing working conditions (e.g., large retail grocers)
Priority 4 (approximately 60,000 tests/week) ALL ARE ASYMPTOMATIC
• Schools with congregate living conditions (e.g., dormitories or barracks)
• Teachers in schools where classroom size exceeds 10 people
• Daycares exceeding 10 children
Employees of non-essential businesses with congregate or public-facing working conditions (e.g., restaurants, high volume retail)
Participants in group guided travel where cloth face coverings and maintaining physical distance of 6 feet apart is not practical (e.g., river rafting) [What a silly thing to put in!]
Total number of tests requested (from Summary of Priority Recommendations) =150.9/week.
We have 80K/week (20K+60K) that are really questionable as to what one actually DOES if you get a positive. Do you send them all home? Without actually DOING something, what’s the point? Some of this, such as testing teachers and daycare, makes sense but the big numbers here are testing the low wage employees working retail.
“But it’s for contact tracing!” some might blather. Yeah, right. You’re going to try to contact trace everyone that a Walmart stock clerk came in contact with during the day? No you are not. Contact tracing might make sense for a food plant but even then I wonder since if you are fingered as someone who was close to someone that was infected but not showing symptoms, would you voluntarily go into quarantine just in case? And would you stay there if you came back as positive? Before I’d do anything of the sort, I’d want to be absolutely certain the Families First Coronavirus Act was going to pay me!
There’s no plan at all about how to address hotspots when there’s plenty of information about how this has been done in the rest of the world. This entire plan strikes me as what one would do for the NEXT pandemic and not this one.