My basic expectations from press briefings

Advice to the President, Governors and Reporters:

If we’ve shut down the economy to keep hospitals below capacity, consider that there are more than a few us out here who have been holed up for a few weeks (and, yes, we notice that your hair is somehow looking fine), I expect every briefing to open with this info:

  • Hospital ICU utilization
  • % infected recovering at home vs. % that need hospitalization
  • Hot spots — where hospital utilization >100% and what % of surge capacity is being used
  • How long is those hot spots expected to last
  • Will surge capacity be adequate there
  • Where are the next hot spots expected to be and is the surge capacity in place
  • What metrics are you tracking to inform your decision to re-open and what are you looking for them to be?
    • If these metrics are different than hospital capacity, why have they changed?

In addition, it would be helpful to give frequent updates on this information:

  • What we know about risk factors:
    • Fatality rates by both age and comorbidity
    • % of population infected from the start (so we know how much of the population is still at risk)
    • What we are doing to get a better estimate on those fatality rates so we’ll better understand our risks (like random antibody testing)
  • What do we know about how treatments are working and preventative measures we can take.
    • Is that having an impact on death rate?
  • Trend in total deaths since this started, not just those we think are COVID-19.
  • Any other things that we’re learning
  • Current plans for re-opening
    • Are we going to test areas and see how that impacts new cases?
    • Are we looking at other countries that have had more success to learn from them?
    • Are we looking to companies that have operated all the way through this so we might apply what they’ve learned?
  • Where are there shortages on PPE and hand sanitizer

Advice to Reporters:

How about we get people back to work before we play the “would’ve/could’ve/should’ve” game?

Quite frankly, you don’t have any legs to stand on in that game.

And, instead of that, when that time comes, how about you ask better questions?

  • What changes are being made to improve how everybody responds to this in the future to make broad shut downs the last resort, instead of the only resort?

I have some thought-starters: Broad, early testing. No centralized CDC testing. Contact tracing. Targeted isolation. Wear masks. Robust stockpiling and production of PPE, masks and hand sanitizer. Antibody testing. Quick setup of mobile testing stations to keep infected patients out of hospitals. Get the private sector involved early so they can provide solutions. Easy setup of surge capacity, separate from existing hospitalized populations.

A numbers team that can put a virus spread into some helpful context — like how does this compare with previous big ones, like H1N1.

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