A New Hope On COVID-19

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

First the good news.

Joe Biden has announced his plan for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. It will include a coordinated national plan of attack and he will be ready on Day 1, Jan. 20, 2021 to implement it. He has already announced his pandemic transition team.

Now the bad news.

One, Mitch McConnell has said the same thing about Biden that he said about President Obama in 2008, that he will oppose him in every way possible to ensure that he is only a one-term president and therefore don’t expect any cooperation from him in fighting the pandemic.

Two, Biden doesn’t take over for almost 70 days and the Trump Administration shows no signs of making any changes that could affect the acceleration of the disease.

Today (Sunday, Nov. 8) there were over 120,000 new cases nationally with over 1,000 new deaths. The estimate is that if nothing is done to change the trajectory of the disease in the U.S. then by the end of January, we could easily double the number of deaths seen so far.

In his acceptance speech Saturday night, Nov. 7., President-elect Biden said that he would name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to convert his plan into an action-plan blueprint that would start on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

His task force is to be led by former Surgeon General Dr. Vitek Murthy (who was fired by President Trump with two years left on his term) and former FDA administrator Dr. David Kessler.

Biden swore to empower scientists at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to help set national guidelines, to invest in vaccine research, and to function as one nation, meaning having a national rather than 50 individual state plans.

Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D. and adviser to Biden, said, “You’re going to have rigorous evaluation and constant refinement” of policies and strategies. There will be strict guidelines for slowing community spread.

The new administration said they would work with each governor to make mask wearing in public mandatory in their states. Current research says mask wearing alone could have saved over 100,000 Americans so far.

They plan to seriously ramp up testing. They plan to hire thousands of public health workers. They will help people to get health insurance.

They would strengthen the Affordable Care Act and immediately reopen the Market Place, something Trump has refused to do. They would create a caregiving workforce and develop resources to help health care workers with their own needs.

Most important: They would choose science over fiction.

So, Joe Biden has a very commonsensical plan for dealing with the crisis but he can’t do anything about it until Jan. 20. And then he will need the cooperation of McConnell and the governors to carry it out.

The fact that if an aggressive program is carried out then the economy can more thoroughly reopen quicker does not seem to register with a lot of politicians. And, if it does, it takes a back seat to winning future elections.

Divided government works great for the stock market and investors, at least that’s what I’ve been told and I have read. But a government that doesn’t function without a unified intent and purpose has a grave disadvantage in going to war, whether against another nation or a submicroscopic virus.

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