Management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States differed from one jurisdiction to another.
Perhaps the only way to judge the effectiveness of handling the outbreak is to compare outcomes emerging in those jurisdictions.
If so, an honest evaluation would conclude that the approaches or strategies implemented by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York have been nothing but an absolute failure.
Let us begin with the death-per-million population rate in New York — more than 900, the highest on Earth. That number is higher than even in China, where the epidemic started, and it's astronomically higher than in many developing countries.
Gov. Cuomo says he is proud that the curve of new COVID-19 cases is declining.
Yet the decline in new cases is a natural phenomenon that occurs with most epidemics — regardless of countermeasures taken. What should have made Cuomo proud of his achievements in handling the epidemic is a better result than has occurred in other states facing the same catastrophe.
Let's examine some of the measures Gov. Cuomo has taken so far to confront this epidemic:
—He issued a stay-at-home order for state residents on March 20. On that date, the governor could have followed several models tracking the disease; some relatively successful and others showing clear evidence of failure.
Common sense tells us that, in such situations, we should follow the successful models.
Take Italy, for example, which had experienced zero deaths on Feb. 15 and used draconian stay-at-home measures at an early stage of confronting the disease. By March 20 — the day of Cuomo's order — Italy’s death toll had reached more than 4,000.
During the same period, Sweden’s deaths from COVID-19 increased from zero to 16.
The same pattern was observed in both Singapore and Taiwan, with zero deaths and two deaths, respectively, by March 20.
Meanwhile, it's notable that Sweden, Taiwan, and Singapore never enforced the stay-at-home approach.
This raises a simple question:
Which models should New York have followed? Italy or the other-mentioned countries?
Sadly (and for seemingly unexplained reasons) Gov. Cuomo followed Italy's example.
—Some might argue that the governor actually chose the Chinese approach because it showed success in defeating the virus in Wuhan. If so, Andrew Cuomo needs to explain why he accepted the stay-at-home tactic for healthy citizens while eschewing the other significant aspect of the Chinese experiment: using the antimalarial drug chloroquine to treat the disease. What made the governor sure that the stay-at-home approach, and not chloroquine treatment, was the factor seemingly defeating the virus in Wuhan?
—Can he cite any controlled study that suppports the logic of depriving humans of developing a natural immunity to the virus? Why was he not equally enthusiastic about using chloroquine, particularly when he knew what happened in Italy — ordering draconian stay-at-home measures without correspondent treatment of the virus’s victims?
—I found it painfully compelling that Cuomo eventually admitted his initial decision to shut down all schools in New York could have contributed to the many deaths we see there today. I also found it puzzling that the governor was so eager to obtain mechanical ventilators despite the fact that the devices do not work well with COVID-19 lung infections. The ventilators can bring air into the lungs, but they cannot make the air move across the alveolar, or air-sac, wall of the lungs to reach the blood.
This is a critical point.
The basic effect of COVID-19 is to inhibit oxygen diffusion across the walls of the air sacs.
Therefore, it is rational to expect that ventilators are unlikely to save many patients suffering the advanced stages of the viral infection, something Governor Cuomo acknowledged recently, when he admitted that over 80% of COVID-19 patients placed on ventilators have died.
—All the preceding suggests that New York's governor should reconsider and reevaluate the approach and tactics he used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic; especially his intention to enforce the stay-at-home approach until at least mid-May of this year.
I fear that doing so could actually increase the numbers of deaths from coronavirus infections in New York State. But altering strategies now, and permitting careful and gradual exposure to the virus, might at least partially assuage the fact that thousands of COVID-19 victims might have survived if the correct approach was taken from the beginning.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid (aka Tarek Abdelhamid) M.D.; Mlitt (Edu) has testified before Congress and before the European Parliament. Dr. Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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