For weeks on end, Coronavirus testing in the U.S. lagged majorly behind the point needed for a comprehensive, large-scale public health assessment in the country. During a conference call last week with Trump administration officials, a San Francisco-area police chief demanded that those on the front lines get priority access to testing. That testing could mean, in extreme but very present circumstances, life or death, because without a tested confirmation, first responders could unknowingly spread the disease.
Admitting on the call that his officers had to rely on local “backchannels” to get access to testing, Chief John Carli of Vacaville, California, commented:
‘Somebody needs to make a decision at the very high level so that we’re not having to have these decisions made [this way]… we have to, at a national level, get the support down to the local level. Stop testing NBA players, and start testing our first responders.’
A slew of NBA players got access to Coronavirus testing in the early days of the outbreak, even while state public health officials struggled to get any remotely effective number of tests ready for their population.
Positive test results in these situations mean that the subjects have to be quarantined, which could obviously have devastating effects for local police forces and other authorities if the virus tore through their ranks. On the conference call in which Carli participated, a Department of Homeland Security official revealed that several thousand of their department’s employees had been quarantined either out of an abundance of caution due to possible exposure or due to apparent positive test results for the virus, and Norwood, Massachusetts Police Chief Bill Brooks added:
‘Our mission has completely changed from what we were doing three weeks ago. Our core mission at this point is not only public service but sustainability. I need the police department to be operational and healthy 60 days from now.’
Besides the risk to themselves and the community, an uncaught case of Coronavirus among first responders could obviously quickly put many of them out of service if it spread. To limit potential virus spread, Brooks revealed that his team had “really told our people not to do traffic enforcement at all.”
The call also addressed issues like spreading Coronavirus cases in various communities not actually getting reported to local authorities, which could leave them in the dark about potential transmission among their own ranks and the community at-large.
The Coronavirus has long been detected in every single state, and overall, the U.S. has suffered more than 81,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases and what’s fast approaching 1,200 deaths. As of late Thursday afternoon Eastern time, the U.S. has the most confirmed cases of any single country in the world. Many of the nation’s cases have been reported in New York, where thousands upon thousands of people have been hospitalized, but other major cities could soon reach similar points of high infection rates.
While these developments have been unfolding, President Trump has been clamoring for the economy to get re-opened and social distancing demands to be lifted. That could enact even more carnage if the virus spreads unchecked.