California Health Corps
Last week, Governor Newsom announced the launch of a new initiative to expand California’s health care workforce and recruit health care professionals to address the coronavirus surge. Health care professionals with an active license, public health professionals, medical retirees, medical and nursing students, or members of medical disaster response teams in the state are encouraged to join the new California Health Corps. For more information and to register for the California Health Corps go online to covid19.ca.gov/healthcorps/.
The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program and to access the application online at home.treasury.gov.
As of March 30, approximately 86,100 tests have been conducted statewide. Here’s the problem: 57,400 of those are still pending. This is an indication of the reality on the testing side. The existing infrastructure does not allow for us to process these tests in real time.
This may change soon. There are rapid tests that have been developed by a company called Cepheid. These are just now being deployed and I have been pushing to get these out as fast as possible. This would allow a test and result at the point of care within the same day. The hope is that we can get test results much faster and hopefully increase testing exponentially.
This will allow for better data collection and in turn, better policy decisions that may avoid the drastic impacts we are seeing to people’s livelihoods. As many have pointed out, that also has real public health impacts.
We need to take this threat seriously, but we also need to be on guard against sensationalism in the media and otherwise. One thing I see a lot of is the use raw numbers without context. When we do this, we are focusing on the numerator without knowing the denominator.
Ok, there are so many cases, but out of how big of a population? Ok there are so many that have tested positive but as a percentage of what? Of those who have been tested? That is a really limited number when we are essentially only testing those who are sick with symptoms. How many have contracted the virus and shown no symptoms? How many fought it off with antibodies?
These are things we don’t know without massive testing. So making dire predictions (or saying it’s an overreaction) without that information is simply speculation.
So keep this in mind and stay calm. Practice social distancing, keep yourself to essential functions, but don’t get scared by raw numbers. We are all in this together.