Medical doctors stopped meeting in huge conventions on March 10

A friend in medical research and I were joking about people who claim to have hindsight regarding coronavirus. I said that I alternate between bragging about my garage full of N95 masks and ventilators and, if someone else says that it should have been trivial for Donald Trump to foresee, if I can come over to his/her/zer/their house to borrow some of the stockpiled N95 masks and ventilators.

He said “We were actually the worst.” What could that mean? “We [doctors] were still holding huge conventions, flying on packed airline flights, meeting by the thousands in hotels, and then returning home with whatever we’d caught to our patients, often some of the sickest and most immune-compromised people in the U.S.” Until when? “March 10.”

(note that the typical school system in Massachusetts shut down on the afternoon of March 12 or 13 and a lot of companies went to work-from-home after March 13)

6 thoughts on “Medical doctors stopped meeting in huge conventions on March 10

  1. Remember this thread?

    You were in Shanghai, saw all those folks wearing masks, shopping for masks, etc., but the last thing on your mind in December was a pandemic, despite the history of MERS, SARS, etc., etc. You’re a very smart man, and widely traveled. You chalked it up to fear of air pollution. You weren’t thinking about bat viruses and Wuhan.

    I wish more people had the guts to be as candid as your friend, and I wish more people realized that except for those who make their living thinking about pandemics, the idea we’d be facing anything like COVID-19 this year was one of the last things on anyone’s mind, if it was there at all – from trained medical professionals to almost everyone else in the universe. What we need is less blame and some contrition from everyone. The whole system is shocked.

    It really wasn’t until the death toll in the Washington nursing home started to skyrocket that I realized: “If this has already spread elsewhere in the country, it’s going to cause havoc..”

    What if, for example, it turns out that a vaccine for COVID-19 doesn’t exist? Will all the people involved in trying to find one be accused of raising false hopes? That’s a real possibility – that we’ll all just be stuck with this virus and its mutations and flare ups permanently.

    Once you have the epiphany, it all seems obvious. If we only had a Teacher like Season 3, Episode 6, everything would be easy.

  2. Trump banned travel from China on January 31. However, because the ban didn’t apply to US citizens, permanent residents, and their families – who account for most of the people traveling between the US and China – it wasn’t very effective.

    The stock market meltdown began on February 24.

    I remember reading in the Washington Post on March 1 that the coronavirus had been spreading undetected in Washington state for the previous six weeks, so there were already hundreds or thousands of undetected infections. Inslee closed the schools on March 13.

    Lack of testing was a big problem. Reading this Washington Post story, it sounds like there was an inter-agency tangle between the FDA and the CDC, requiring higher-level leadership to sort out. This was the turning point:

    On Feb. 27, Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, added to the pressure to expand testing further. He spoke in person with Brian Harrison, Azar’s chief of staff, and underscored the urgent need to accelerate the approval of new tests, according to two people familiar with the call. At noon that day, Harrison convened a teleconference of officials from the FDA, CDC and other agencies.

    In strong language, Harrison told the group to come up with a new test approval plan before they left the meeting.

  3. At my company (Boston/SF/colo.) we sent everybody home on March 6th. When I saw that this had a 14-day incubation and asymptomatic spreaders (late Feb.), an outbreak here started to seem certain. That’s also when I paid $80 for a box of 20 N95s. Haven’t regretted either choice once. Now that I can get KN95s will likely give the Ns to the local ambulance crew but wanted to make sure I had something in case it got nasty.

  4. Also worth reading inre: the “super spreader” Biogen conference in early March.

    “The smartest people in healthcare and drug development — and they were completely oblivious to the biggest thing that was about to shatter their world,” said John Carroll, editor of Endpoints News, which covers the biotech industry.”

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