Politicking in a Polemic Pandemic

The public discussion centers on distancing or not distancing, but these are not the only options available to us. There’s a third.

I give thee thine options

You can let it burn through like wildfire. Not ideal, I think you’ll agree? This causes the most deaths and gravest economic consequences.


Pause life until we find therapeutics or vaccines and medical capacity increases enough to handle all sick cases. Not dissimilar to wildfire option unless you give immunity to half of the population needed for herd immunity.


Also, problematic. I don’t know about you, but I’ve cried for no reason several times, and it’s only Tuesday. We need to end distancing soon. These measures are emergency actions meant to recover the time we lost in January, February, and March, but it’s useless if we do nothing with the time.

In eighty-ish days’ time, if we return to normal life, we will see a peak just as high as the initial one predicted. Listen to hear more about this from Drs. Justin Lessler from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Michael Mina from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on podcast Epidemiology Counts.


Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash


Track-and-trace for containment. Containment is a shared element among the countries returning to semi-normal life have in common. A National Plan to Enable Comprehensive COVID-19 Case Finding and Contact Tracing in the US addresses the shortages that disadvantage the US.


Tracers need a high-school diploma, internet access, and a computer or comparable device. Volunteer for contact tracing if the opportunity arises. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security called for a public health force of 100,000 people, recently. The number may sound extreme, but it’s only one person for every 3,000 persons. We can manage that. I know we can.

Someone with public health experience should manage teams. Massachusetts launched a 1000-person tracing effort. A free contact tracing course from Johns Hopkins is now available on Coursera.

“If we take the Massachusetts approach and apply it across the country, that will mean about 50,000 additional contact investigators are needed in the United States. However, it is likely that many more will be necessary, considering the large number of cases already in the United States, that COVID-19 has been circulating widely for many weeks, and that we still do not have sufficient levels of testing.

Therefore, it would make sense to at least start by adding an extra 100,000 contact tracers across the United States.”

Maybe you’re a community organizer, whether community level or state, who can contact your public health departments and ask what you can do? Don’t be afraid to offer to lead.We need leaders, and we need people willing to help. No one knows a community like its residents, so no one is better suited to speak in a way that locals can understand.


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