Steps US Has To Take To Avoid Becoming Like Italy Regarding The Coronavirus Pandemic

Employees of a disinfection service company clean a subway car depot last week in Seoul. (Heo Ran/Reuters)
Employees of a disinfection service company clean a subway car depot last week in Seoul. (Heo Ran/Reuters)

The White House has still been discouraging Americans accessing testing for the coronavirus COV-19 infection if they aren’t seriously ill. He talks about how sick peoples can just self isolate themselves. But if the US wants to model South Korea, a country which has successfully turned the tide of the COV-19 pandemic that had been rampant in its boundaries versus Italy which hasn’t, then widespread testing is a key step.

Here’s the rest of the story…

On March 17, 2020, Gavin Yamey of Time penned the following report, “What the U.S. Needs to do Today to Follow South Korea’s Model for Fighting Coronavirus”


“The US has a narrow window of opportunity to determine the fate of its coronavirus crisis. Will we end up looking like Italy or South Korea?”

“Italy’s health system has imploded under the strain of new cases and the shortage of ventilators means doctors must make agonizing decisions on who to save and who to let die. In contrast, South Korea acted swiftly and boldly to “flatten the curve”— the government did everything it could to slow the rate of increase and so reduce the burden of the illness on the country’s clinics and hospitals.”


“Right now, the number of new cases of confirmed infection in the U.S. is doubling every 4 days. This puts us on a trajectory towards becoming Italy. On March 16, a research team at Imperial College London published a new study suggesting that without taking control measures, there would be about 2.2 million deaths in the U.S.”

“We could still avoid this catastrophic scenario. We will need to act urgently, ruthlessly, and aggressively to adopt 5 key measures that helped to flatten the curve in places like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.”

Medical workers test a patient for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at a drive-thru testing facility in San Francisco, California on March 12, 2020.
Medical workers test a patient for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at a drive-thru testing facility in San Francisco, California on March 12, 2020. Josh Edelson—AFP via Getty Images
  1. Testing, Testing, Testing

“The nationwide shortage of coronavirus test kits here in the U.S. is not just a disgrace, it is emblematic of a country totally ill prepared to fight a deadly pandemic. Right now, with so little testing, we are shooting in the dark when it comes to our control efforts. It’s the equivalent of a surgeon trying to do an operation with the lights off.”

“Why is it so critical for us to have a massive surge in testing? People who are sick need to get the right diagnosis and clinical care. We know, for example, that if you are hospitalized with COVID-19, there’s a high chance you’ll need transfer to the intensive care unit.”


“People with mild symptoms who get tested can self-isolate and help stop the spread of the virus. If one person has the disease, we can then test those they have been in contact with (known as “contact tracing”). In other words, testing and contact tracing can help to break the chain of transmission. As Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, says: “Find, isolate, test and treat every case, and trace every contact.”

“Testing also allows clinics and hospitals to become better prepared, as they know how many cases to expect. And, crucially, testing helps us to know where the disease is, how it is evolving, and where to target our efforts to control it. It identifies the hot spots of infections.”

“Countries that have flattened the curve made testing widely and freely available, using innovative approaches like mass drive-thru test centers. South Korea has been conducting around 12,000-15,000 tests every day, and has the capacity to do 20,000 daily. While it is hard to get accurate estimates, the CDC reports that only around 25,000 tests have been conducted in total nationwide by CDC or public health labs in the U.S.—compare this with the roughly 250,000 tests that South Korea has done to date.”

“We are seeing promising signs in the right direction. The House just passed a bill that guarantees free testing. Target, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart will soon offer drive-thru testing. The CDC promises to ship out more test kits to state and local public health labs and it has relaxed its guidelines on who can get tested. But test shortages remain, and we’re still playing catch up.”


Communicate and coordinate

“There’s one striking message from a new analysis of how Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan were able to contain COVID-19. In all 3 locations, there was excellent communication and coordination between different government departments and between the central and regional governments.”

“In Singapore, for example, “there are almost daily meetings between Regional Health System managers, hospital leaders, and the Ministry of Health.” Clear COVID-19 plans and protocols are in place so that all key players at all levels of the health system know what they are supposed to do. There’s also explicit, detailed information given daily to the public on the state of the outbreak.”

“Unfortunately, in the US, the COVID-19 response led by VP Mike Pence has suffered from extremely poor communication from the outset. The flailing Trump Administration downplayed the threat from day one and Trump himself has stated many factually incorrect things about the virus. There is still no clarity on who is responsible for what. With very little clear and credible guidance from the federal government, cities, counties, and states have had to do their best on their own.”

Laura Lezza/Getty Images

3. Use social distancing to protect the vulnerable

“Most of the transmission in the U.S. is happening within our borders (so-called community transmission), which is one reason why Trump’s travel ban is now pointless.

“A critical tool for breaking this community transmission is “social distancing”—staying away from places where people congregate (movie theaters, bars, restaurants, shopping centers), avoiding mass gatherings (like religious services and concerts), and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people. Countries that flattened the curve have taken a variety of approaches to breaking community transmission, from school and office closures to suspending public transportation.”

Coronavirus symptoms – who joint mission 2

4. Protect our health workers

Our most precious resource right now is our health workers. Along with our botched roll out of coronavirus testing, we should also be ashamed of how we have broken our promise to protect these heroes—our national shortage of protective equipment means doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other front-line workers are getting infected and risk death. Two emergency physicians, one in Washington state and one in New Jersey, are now in critical condition with COVID-19. Such infections also put even more strain on the health system, and continue to fuel the cycle of transmission.”

“Rapidly scaling up and deploying the production of protective equipment for health workers isn’t just a public health necessity. It’s also a moral emergency. What kind of a nation are we if we can’t protect those who are literally putting their lives on the line night and day to care for our sick?”

Severity of coronavirus cases in china 1

5. Expect and plan for a rise in cases

As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned, “things will get worse than they are right now.” Every health care setting across the country, especially hospitals, should take steps now to prepare for a rise in cases, including scaling up their supplies of equipment such as ventilators. It was therefore disheartening to hear Trump tell governors yesterday, “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves.” The federal government needs to step up at times like these. There needs to be an emergency injection of funding to expand our strategic national stockpile of ventilators.

US Government/ / Healthcare Facilities Need To Take Steps To Acquire Ventilators


  1. All Trump cares about is his re-election. For profit U.S. healthcare will still be squabbling over who pays for testing long after it’s too late to do anything about public safety. The magnitude of mismanagement, misinformation and dragging of feet during this crisis is staggering. Sigh.

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  2. Another excellent post, Gronda. You always make real facts drive your opinions and, in times like these, that’s critical. In these days of fear and confusion, we need as many honest voices as possible. Thanks!


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