I watch the Governor’s daily press briefing and various news sources from around the nation, wondering if and when we will be able to restart YCP.
I am a public health consultant, having worked for Departments of Public Health in 39 different states. As I watch these press conferences, I see the best and the worst in our profession.
After watching the Governor speak for hours on this subject, it’s clear to me that his goal is to prevent as many infections as possible until there is a vaccine or very effective treatment. In contrast, some other Governors are trying to “flatten the curve” so that hospital systems do not become overwhelmed but see more and more infections as an inevitability.
Those distinctions matter because the former is going to be severely limiting for at least a year, possibly two years, and the later will have ever more freedom as cases increase, and we approach herd immunity.
I fear this is becoming a political battle with many Republicans and Democrats having distinctly different paths forward. How you feel about these two paths are likely influenced by which “team” you find yourself on, and therefore aren’t worth discussing here.
The President’s team laid out a plan this afternoon that includes three phases.
Each of these phases takes a minimum of two weeks to complete and transition to the next step. Phase 2 allows groups of up to 50 people, still only 1/3 the size of a YCP party. You can read more about the President’s plan here.
Governors have no obligation to follow the plan, and so far, Illinois Governor’s proposal is much vaguer but roughly to not allow anything to reopen until there are:
Mandatory reporting of people you’ve been in contact with once you test positive.
Large scale antibody testing.
Sustained control of new infections.
What does this mean for YCP? That’s impossible to say at this point.
If the Governor implements his plan without change, we will not be holding events for years. Mandatory reporting would make it nearly impossible to hold a swinger party because if one person becomes ill, the entire party roster would be outed to the Government. Rest assured, we will not proceed unless this restriction either doesn’t exist or becomes much less draconian than this sounds.
Large-scale antibody testing is many months or possibly years away. There isn’t a reliable test yet, and it would take a very long time to manufacture 325 million of them, one for each American.
The third is already happening. Chicago hospitals are not at capacity, although that could change.
However, I wouldn’t let that worry you too much because, like anything, this is a political issue. All of the strategies to curb COVID negatively impact health in other ways. So if we begin to take a “bigger picture” approach to public health, we will be forced to rethink some of these strategies. Here are a few issues that may force the Governor to moderate his plan in the name of public health.
Children are missing months of school due to COVID. Poor education outcomes are directly related to poor health outcomes.
Millions of people in Illinois are out of work. Because the State cannot even accept unemployment applications for the self-employed yet, many thousands of people are now in abject poverty. There is no more significant cause of poor health than poverty.
The State of Illinois is 200 billion dollars in debt and had “15 minutes” of emergency money set aside before COVID. If the federal government stops providing money, Illinois will be forced to restart its economy as the State is unable to offer any financial assistance on its own.
Gyms and some trails are closed, and alcohol and junk food sales are up. We know that obesity, heart disease, and many other inactivity related diseases are the largest co-morbidity with COVID besides age. Heart disease and cancer also kill over 1.2 million Americans per year.
We also are unsure at this point, even how deadly COVID is. If we estimate its danger by deaths per positive test, then it’s a very deadly disease. However, in some places where they’ve tested unsymptomatic people, there is an indication that the actual fatality rate is closer to 6/10 of 1%. We are still basing our policy on a fatality rate much, much higher than that.
In essence, we may discover that almost everyone is already exposed. That’s how little we know about what we are dealing with right now.
In summary, no one knows what we are doing, what we will do next, or even with what we are dealing.
It’s a quickly moving target. Five weeks ago, almost no one thought this was going to change our lives as soon as it did. Therefore, it would be ridiculous for us to speculate what will happen five weeks from today.
I know at least one of you has COVID, and many of you are working on the front lines. Some of you are now unemployed or underemployed. Some of you have had your businesses banned.
A lucky few are just chilling with your pets, fully-employed, and wondering where to spend your stimulus money. 🙂
Regardless of your position, we wish you all the best, and we aren’t willing to give up yet.