In Episode #8,251 of "Please Explain Why We Refused Tests From The WHO, Again?" we have Rachel Maddow shining a bright light on two very helpful explainers of the importance of mass testing. It should silence those who consider calls for quarantines and shelter-in-place orders overreactions, but it won't.
The first comes from Mark Lipsitch, who runs the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard University. He talks about the relationship between the number of new cases and the demand for ICU beds that occurs three weeks later.
The steep rise in [Italy's] infections foretells by about three weeks, the collapse in their hospitals happening today. That region's governor again saying that we will no longer be able to treat people in hospitals. That is the terrible news from Italy. That is why you keep hearing people talk about Italy like it is the boogieman in this story. That is why New York officials, in particular, are sounding the alarm about the mirror between New York cases and Italy, about how the steep rise in cases in New York now foretells a crush in hospitals here coming very, very soon, just as we have seen it play out in realtime in northern Italy.
Maddow shared an encouraging experiment, though, without implying it was easy to duplicate on the large scale necessary in a nation of over 350 million people. She shared it as an example of the benefits of mass testing, proof that asymptomatic people can have the virus, and that isolation works. This took place in the town of Vo, Italy.
And then after the period of isolation, they tested the whole town again. Anybody newly positive again, isolated. Well, after having done that, after having done universal testing and universal isolation of all positive cases, they have now gone days with no new cases in that town.
Acknowledging the fact that you cannot extrapolate globally from one small town, Maddow pulled out the validity of the principles at play. If we'd only had the tests available to test everyone — remember, South Korea quickly had the ability to test 10,000 people per day, whereas the U.S. tested only a few thousand people over the span of weeks — we might have only had to isolate the people who tested positive instead of the entire city and state populations. Or perhaps we might have had to resort to those drastic measures, but we might have had a reasonable end date to expect and look forward to — instead of this chaos and uncertainty and obvious ineptitude.
Instead, we have this: