When the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) hit China, both the central and local governments delivered bold and drastic measures to curb the spread of the disease. They quarantined millions of people and built hospitals at breakneck speed to accommodate the influx of patients. As a wealthier nation, you’d expect the U.S. and its agencies to outclass China in responding to a potential pandemic.
We’re seeing the exact opposite. The Central for Disease Control (CDC) is committing tremendous blunders that not only put more people at risk but also deter healthcare workers from doing their jobs.
You’d expect authorities, who are supposed to be experts in their field, to quarantine people who contracted the coronavirus. Putting sick patients in isolation keeps them from infecting others. This should be strictly enforced when dealing with a virus that has an R-nought (R0) value of two to three. This means that a person with COVID-19 can infect two to three other people. In comparison, the flu has an R0 value of 1.3.
But the CDC, in all its wisdom, released from quarantine a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus in Texas.
The woman was evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and was placed in a 14-day quarantine. According to CNBC, the patient tested negative twice, which gave the CDC grounds for release. However, results of another test revealed that the woman was indeed suffering from COVID-19.
After the release, the woman visited the North Star Mall where she ate and entered stores.
This prompted San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg to declare a public health emergency. Nirenberg said:
As mayor of this city, I find it totally unacceptable that CDC would release a patient prior to receiving all test results and potentially expose the public to this harm,
To cope with an outbreak, local officials conduct “surveillance testing” or the testing of hundreds of people in target hot spots. Other countries also use this strategy to monitor the spread of the virus before people overwhelm hospitals.
According to a Pro Republica report, the federal agency “shunned the World Health Organization guidelines used by other countries,” and devised its own test. The CDC test didn’t work as expected.
While the test was able to flag COVID-19, it falsely identified other viruses in otherwise harmless samples. The false positives put local officials in a position where they’re weeks behind schedule.
Scott Becker, CEO of a non-profit corporation that represents 100 state and local public laboratories, said,
We’re weeks behind because we had this problem. We’re usually up front and center and ready.
Nurses and doctors put their lives at risk when dealing with an outbreak. They have the courage to do so because they expect the system to support them in case they contract the virus. The CDC is showing healthcare professionals that the reality is far from expectations.
A nurse at a northern California Kaiser facility released a jarring statement that can influence the commitment of healthcare workers throughout the United States. The registered nurse volunteered to be part of the team that cared for a coronavirus patient. The healthcare worker said,
I had all the recommended protective gear and training from my employer.
Despite the protection, the nurse eventually got sick and presented symptoms that would qualify her for coronavirus testing. The public county officer also agreed that the nurse should be tested.
According to the nurse, the CDC didn’t test her on the following grounds:
they would not test me because if I were wearing the recommended protective equipment, then I wouldn’t have the coronavirus.
The CDC’s response sends a bad message to healthcare professionals. Who would volunteer and risk their lives to care for infected patients if the system that’s supposed to have their backs is likely to bail on them?
These monumental blunders by the CDC are not helping the U.S. contain coronavirus. By releasing an infected patient, deviating from WHO testing guidelines and abandoning a healthcare worker, it wouldn’t be surprising if coronavirus cases soar in the country in the coming weeks.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
Last modified: June 13, 2020 12:25 AM UTC