STERNBERG: Why Wasn’t More Done Sooner?

LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Why Wasn’t More

Done Sooner?

By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

 Over the last several days I reviewed a great deal of material regarding COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus. I looked at videos. I read scientific and lay papers. I scanned media reports. All to determine what to write about.
It was like drinking from a fire hose.

Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.

But the Monday, March 30, announcement by Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, acknowledging that the best case scenario would be 100,000-200,000 deaths, made me really angry.

That’s not only because it is unacceptable that so many innocent lives will be lost, or because I know a great number of healthcare providers, first responders and public servants will be among them because of lack of proper protective equipment.

What made me angry was that again government officials kept painting a relatively rosy picture of problems either being or coming under control.

The last two months has shown the continued denial by America’s so-called leaders and lack of preparation that will probably lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary cases and deaths.

Why did they not learn from the outbreak in China and its response to it? In this modern age how could they begin to believe that it would not come to the United States? Why did they not prepare?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease who has generally been the voice of comfort, reason, honesty and reconciliation, has been repeatedly heavily criticized by some people in that he was not sufficiently loyal to President Trump.

This might be the man who has been really holding everything together at least on a national level. His numbers and statistics have been doubted and called fraudulent. My God, I wonder how we would be doing without him advising the president.

For several weeks, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio told New Yorkers they didn’t have to inconvenience themselves significantly during this outbreak. Where was he getting his information from and why was he contradicting the experts?

Many of our leaders have failed us. I can think of some exceptions, especially locally.

Otsego County Board Chairman Dave Bliss and Bassett Healthcare under the leadership of Dr. William Streck both started planning relatively sooner than many others. Bassett, in fact, began its planning way back in January before the first cases were reported in the United States. More on these in subsequent columns.

Right now, I don’t know what to believe. There are professionals, epidemiologists and statisticians, who provide data to support real predictions on how this will turn out. We all need to seek out these sources and then trust them.

I feel that at this point the only public figures I can trust to be straightforward and honest with us are Dr. Fauci and Governor Cuomo.

In the meantime, there are many good places to get information relevant to those of us in Otsego County. The bassett.org website (hit the link on top of the home page) has all the information Bassett has put out along with some excellent videos.

The state Department of Health, health.ny.gov, and the governor’s daily news conferences are also excellent sources of information.

I know that being angry is not going to help but it is the way I feel right now. I hope that other areas of the country stop their denial and learn from New York State’s experience.

I can also hope for some early breakthrough in treatment or immunization but that does not appear likely.


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