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JUST POSTED: 316 million people in 42 states urged to stay at home. Whose idea was this? Well, here is the never-before-told story of the birth of this policy & intense fight over it 15 yrs ago. This is your life now. Read this fascinating tale w @jestei…
I was amazed when I dug into this story. Something so big--impacting hundreds of millions. Yet no one had said how this idea came about? Who were the people behind this? How did they come up with this idea? The Red Dawn emails were my first hint.…
Turns out the folks who were on this email chain, many of them first met back during tenure of George W. Bush. After 9-11, Bush was thinking abt other threats. Bush was alarmed about how big of a threat pandemic presented. Read his speech here.…
A crew of federal doctors and experts assembled, including Dr. Carter Mecher of the VA and Richard Hatchett, from the White House. They posed a fundamental question: what happens if US has no vaccines or drugs to treat it? What then?
So here is where it gets really interesting. Cut to New Mexico & high school student doing research project on social networks. Her dad works at Sandia National Lab. That school project helps document big role schools play in spreading contagious diseases…
The results of this research reach the team tasked to come up with a new national policy in DC. They are amazed at the conclusions. CLOSE the schools and you can help KNOCK DOWN the contagion--even without a vaccine.
The issue was, the United States never had a formal fed policy calling for social distancing during a pandemic. Yes, back to the Middle Ages, societies had turned to quarantine and to isolation. But US, in modern era, had placed its confidence in anti viral drugs and vaccines.
Next big question: How important is quick action, to implement social distancing? For that two teams of researchers working on this assignment dug in deep on 1918 (not 1917 as Trump says) and Spanish flu. The answer was clear. MOVE FAST=SAVE LIVES
Two studies were done, and the results were overwhelming. In cities that moved fast back in 1918 to close schools, dance halls, community gatherings, etc., there were generally fewer deaths. This was HUGE.
Now the challenge became turning this into a federal policy. They called it NonPharaceutical Interventions, Washington speak for taking steps when there is no drugs or vaccine. What we now call Social Distancing.
The bosses at Health and Human Services were skeptical. People would ignore the social distancing orders. Lower income families would be hard hit. Bad idea, they said. Tough it out. That should be the policy. They had their own paper making that case.
But the group led by Dr Richard Hatchett and Dr. Carter Mercher prevailed. By Feb. 2007, social distancing became official US policy, via this document. Got no headlines at the time. Little attention.…
Crew that wrote this policy figured it would be "targeted" meaning it would not be necessary to order national lockdown. That presumed interventions took place quickly/virus spread was slowed. Also, expected widespread testing would identify hotspots. That didn't happen this year
Bottom line: Want to know how you ended up isolated in your home for weeks. Read this story. It's credited with saving perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives in US. But obviously it came at economic cost. This is now your life. Here is how that happened.…
So let's bring this up to the present, and Red Dawn emails. Well, guess who is watching really closely at coronavirus spreading across China and then turns up in the United States. The team that created this policy back in 2007. And they are alarmed at what they see. Dr. Mecher:
They grew even more concerned at Trump resisted enacting these measures, delaying the call for social distancing/Non Pharmaceutical Interventions/NPIs.
Their concern turned to disbelief when Trump, on March 11--well after first deaths happening in the US and infection numbers surging--called for restrictions on flights from Europe, instead of rolling out social distancing, i.e., US policy.
So now you know: Red Dawn group-many of them worked on formulating this policy back in 2006-2007. They watched as Trump admin resisted it at first. Finally, Trump embraced it. But not before virus spread throughout NY other states. Deaths surged. The rest, as they say, is history
As I said a couple of weeks ago, we so often don't realize it. But the shape of history is not fated. It is determined by individuals (mostly those who are powerful, sometimes those who are not) making choices that resonate, and shape the course of events.
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