My family, unfortunately, has been close to some of the front lines of the Coronavirus outbreak. One of us was in several CDC Level-3 countries before returning to the United States on March 12, 2020.
Corona Virus And My Family
Due to this we have been caught up in a number of emerging issues from screening and testing, to quarantine and more. I’m here to tell you what’s going on behind the scenes.
What Is Increased Screening?
This family member was in several European cities (Madrid, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and more) during March. When they flew back into the United States we were anticipating the increased screening that we learned about in this speech.
Screening ≠ Testing
As they passed through US Customs they experienced the aforementioned increased screening. This consisted of being asked if they were in China or Italy. This family member observed that not a single person they went through Customs with was asked about symptoms, had their temperature taken, or was given a Coronavirus test.
Federal Government Recommendations
They were given no information on quarantine procedures, nor was it recommended. However, this family member immediately went into self-quarantine to avoid becoming a potential vector for the spread of this virus. We all need to do our best to flatten the curve.
What Is Self-Quarantine?
The rest of us are in quarantine too. There are no tests available to those coming from the middle of the pandemic. We are in quarantine to protect others in case we have Coronavirus due to exposure from our traveling family member. Having been in the health space for almost 30 years I take public health very seriously. This is not just about preventing old people from getting sick, though that is of extreme importance. It is about preventing total collapse of our health care system.
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How Many Tests Does USA Have?
Unfortunately, we do not have enough tests to test high risk populations (like my family traveler) which include those coming from hot spots around the world as well as our medical personnel, and people who experience typical Coronavirus symptoms.1
Testing In Colorado
The governor is desperate for tests,2 and our Boulder County Medical Director personally told me that they do not have enough tests to administer to emergency personnel. As of March 20, 2020, less than 3,000 individuals3 had been tested in Colorado out of a population of 6,000,000.4 We don’t have enough tests here as outlined in The Denver Post article titled, Colorado Coronavirus Testing Frustrations.
Testing In USA
According to this Wall Street Journal, article:5
When cases of the new coronavirus began emerging several weeks ago in California, Washington state and other pockets of the country, U.S. public-health officials worried this might be The Big One…The testing program they rolled out to combat it, though, was a small one.
How Many Tested?
According to the WSJ, as of March 20, 2020, 32,000 people had been tested in the US. Incidentally, of those, 6,500 people tested positive for Coronavirus. It is concerning that 20% of those tested are positive.
Global Coronavirus Count
Here is a link to a Global Coronavirus Counter from Johns Hopkins. Please note, the numbers you see on this counter will be different than those I cite above, given that this tool is current, and the above are from newspaper articles that do not get updated.
Let’s Start A Global Conversation
I’d love to connect with you during this challenging time. Let me know where you are, how you’re holding up emotionally, what your physical condition is, and if you have access to Coronavirus testing. Stay safe, flatten the curve, and support our health warriors!
Most of the time we have the good fortune to be observers of what is reported daily on the news. Unfortunately, once the story hits home it becomes personal, and we find it impossible to sit on the sideline. As the lyric goes, you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. But, in today’s environment when speaking your own personal truth, you then get a barrage of incoming attacks. Why so many feel the need to attack someone speaking about their own personal feelings continues to puzzle me?
Which is very concerning, when we are already dealing with an autoimmune disease that is attacking our own health. So I would encourage those who are blessed to have escaped the reality of a COVID 19 illness or death to back off a grieving family. Show some respect , and channel your energy into helping instead of attacking. You wouldn’t attack a grieving mother who lost a child to suicide. You wouldn’t attack a parent who lost their family member to a drunk driver. Don’t attack Elana when she is just sharing her personal pain from COVID-19. I would hope one could show some self-restraint and respect for a grieving family.
Then get down on your knees, and pray that you and your family members continue to only be observers during this pandemic. Elana, protect your health and your family, and don’t waste your energy trying to defend what you are not required to defend. This is your truth, not the truth of those who comment. Focus on turning your tragedy into what will one day bring back your joy. None of us will ever be the same, but we must have hope for the future for our children. Those who are your true friends, will continue to follow all that you have so selflessly given to us through your postings.
Deanna, your comment brought tears to me eyes. I’m so very grateful for you. Thank you.
In May 2018 President Trump ordered the entire NSC’s global health security system shut down, and reassignment of Rear Admiral Timothy Zeimer and dissolution of his team inside the agency dissolved.
The month before, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton pressured Zeimer’s DHS counterpart, Tom Bossert and his entire team to resign. Neither the NSC or the DHS epidemic teams have ever been replaced.
President Trump was warned in a briefing on 2019, November of a pandemic and its threat to our safety and security and did nothing to prepare our country.
“What a problem,” President Donald Trump said on March 6. “Came out of nowhere.”
I am sorry for your loss, and heartbroken for New York and the rest of the East coast. It’s such a tragedy for all of us. God bless all those selfless people who are working in the trenches.
Zee, thank you for taking the time to reflect as a very patriotic American and to be brave enough to admit that we lost lives due to mistakes that were made. Gratitude to you and your amazing support of our great country.
No, the White House Didn’t ‘Dissolve’ Its Pandemic Response Office
Leslie, agree, they streamlined it which impaired our response.
I think by June 1st, I may want my Mommy…
I am just joking, I just want to do things I enjoy after I get my veggies cooked & others dishes while they are still good, and I am going to put plastic wrap over my 12-ct muffin tin, break an egg in each, freeze them for 4 hours and then put in zip lock bags and date and number then. They will last 6 months like this, if vacuum packed it’s 1 year.
You can freeze milk also in like 1 cup portions, zip bag, 5 months. I saw this months ago at A Modern Homestead.
Thank you so very much Elana, we love you!
Laura, I hear ya! Thanks for your darling comment. I hope you and yours are staying very safe. Sending you the biggest hug ever :-)
I can only recommend the following to support the immune system vitamin d 10,000iu and vitamin c
So I guess the lesson here is that going forward the United States of America should have a stock pile and back up of medical equipment that every President/Surgeon General should be charged with monitoring and rotating the equipment. Trump has done an outstanding job with no previous resources from prior Presidents……….
Donna, thanks so much for your comment and for your ideas, I very much appreciate them! Unfortunately there are many issues that stem from the present. First, would have been better if head of NSC Biodefense and Pandemic Preparedness was not fired in 2018 the day after stating that a pandemic flu was a top national security issue for US, additionally, hiring lobbyists from the drug industry who do not have previous experience in public service to run HHS is another issue we face. Sadly there are others. Much of it outlined in the Wall Street Journal article I link to in this blog post. The WSJ is typically very friendly to this administration –the owner is a good friend of those in the White House, so I was frankly shocked to see an article like this.
Now we can look to countries like South Korea who are weathering the storm by administering COVID-19 tests, quarantining only the sick, and whose economies are going full steam ahead. South Korea was testing hundreds of thousands of people for this virus when our position was to say it would simply vanish. I am always looking for ways that I can improve and that my country can do better and this is one of those instances to be patriotic and find time for communal self-reflection. The coming months will be very hard for many people and we must all join together in love of our incredible USA.
Well said Elana.
Thanks Kathy :-)
The head of NSC Biodefense and Pandemic Preparedness was not fired. He left of his own accord.
Leslie, in 2018, Trump fired Tom Bossert, whose job as homeland security adviser on the NSC included coordinating the response to global pandemics. Bossert was not replaced. Last year, Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the NSC’s senior director for global health security and biodefense, left the council and was not replaced. Dr. Luciana Borio, the NSC’s director for medical and biodefense preparedness, left in May 2018 and was also not replaced. So sad that there were so many holes in this system that lead to lack of a better response.
RJ Hirsch says
Thank you Elana, yes, well said– and crucial information to get out.
The loss of our Pandemic readiness team may put the degree of loss directly at the door of the firer in chief.
Sadly, this was not avoidable. When personal gain is the only value, this is where we land
I hope your household has been able to enjoy Passover Seder/s, moments of peace and delight–and robust health
RJ, thank you for being on this healing path with me and for being a critical thinker. Our family has been able to celebrate the holiday and I hope yours has too :-)
I agree re stockpiles and President Trump doing a good job with the problem dumped in his lap. This is not the time for the same tired criticism aimed at him. Be an American!
Rob, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am a patriotic American in the truest sense of the word, one who is willing to examine action that will save American lives to support our amazing incredible country that is the greatest on earth.
Is it not scary to be considered “un American” when you criticize an inept president?
Andrea, it would be terrifying in fact if I did not know that I am a patriotic American. But yes, something is just not right with that.
Logistically, testing everyone who came through customs would have been impossible at the point you speak of. Additionally, at the time you’re talking about no one quite foresaw what would be necessary. Travel into the country was halted shortly after that. My 24 year old son and his partner returned from Italy 3 weeks ago and were directed to self quarantine, which they did, while the rest of everyone was romping about, still debating if it was necessary to cancel St. Patrick’s Day events. Even now, there’s a shortage of test kits and manufacturers are ramping up on all sorts of supplies. Before you make a statement like that, please give it more consideration.
Betsy, agree, since the US had only administered around 1,000 tests at that point and were experiencing a very severe shortage of tests it would have been impossible. Would have been good if they had taken people’s temperature and consistently given them instructions on self-quarantine. But when my son came through on March 12th, our head of HHS did not have anywhere near the vision to do even minor things like these. That’s also because our head of Biodefense Pandemic Preparedness was fired in 2018, so yes I agree with you again, no one was able to foresee such basic precautions. It is very sad that the US chose the path of Italy rather than South Korea. In researching both of those models of handling COVID-19 we see that South Korea is functioning well, their economy is strong, and people protected due to the country’s foresight and preparedness. But we cannot go back now and undo the lack of vision and readiness we had. We can only move forward and learn from our mistakes. All my best to you and yours and stay very safe :-)
I have been reading your blogs for years and really enjoy the topics and recipes and hearing about your life.
I am a Canadian (almost 70) living in a suburb of Toronto. Right now I am okay, but am in that demographic for being at risk.
My daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters, just arrived back from 10 days in Florida (Sarasota) last Thursday. It was a very stressful time for them as they worried about getting back home, and they were appalled by the amount of people who were on spring break and partying on like nothing was happened. Guess they don’t have parents/grandparents in their life that they could infect. They seemed to think they were invincible.
People here seem to be taking it seriously, but we still read reports of people not adhering to social distancing and gathering in groups. That’s what took Italy down, as they are so sociable and family oriented.
My daughter and her family are in self quarantine for two weeks, but then she thought that we could get together. I sadly had to tell her that, no, there will be no birthday or Easter celebrations or anything else until this is over. When her quarantine is over, they can get out to buy essentials, but then they will be like the rest of us, self isolating, with no social gettogethers. It’s a new world, one we haven’t experienced before. I encouraged my granddaughters to journal about it.
I have been getting groceries for them (leaving it just outside their door) and another daughter, using gloves and making sure I wash my hands often.
China hadn’t had any new cases in days, yet today the coronavirus site is showing that they have 39 new ones! Does everyone know that they started dealing with this in the middle of November – 4 months ago! We’re in for a long haul, and I truly believe that following the rules strictly will make a difference.
Sorry to have written a book. Stay safe. Wishing you the best.
Chris, thanks for reaching out from Toronto. So sorry to hear about your family’s experience in Florida. From everything I read and researched the way the US has handled COVID-19 is very similar to Italy. That does not bode well for us in the coming weeks. Again, from my research it looks like China is getting new cases of infection from people who are coming in from the West, very sad. Thanks for every detail of your comment and please keep me posted on how all of you are doing. Sending hugs :-)
In SF Bay Area suburbs, awaiting virus Testing results hopefully tomorrow. Aqaintances were turned down for testing, but my 40ish husband has preexisting conditions and was able to test. Day 9 of symptoms for both of us, I’m mild/nearly asyptomatic, he’s very uncomfortable, steadily and slowly getting worse. We just hope his antibodies kick in soon. He worries having to go to the hospital. His birthday is in 2 days. Taking lots of Tumeric for inflammation. Our 6 years old so. Just started showing symptoms 2 days ago, 3 other older kids are ok so far. Had been isolated for 3 days before symptoms showed. Avoided public (minus kids at school for a week before that). Feels like a typical sick Xmas break without the Xmas fluff, with more prayer (which Xmas should have). Wish their was more information on virus Progression & recovery. We treasure this time together, have had moments of fear, an great moments of joy and beauty. See others hiking, biking and walking but unfortunately that’s not in The cards for us. Godspeed all.
Tracy, thanks for your comment from SF Bay Area! I am SO sorry to hear about your husband. I agree, it feels like a Christmas break in a lot of ways, but with a ton of stress. Our family too is treasuring this time together and working well as a team. Sending prayers to you and yours :-)
Victoria Domenick says
Thank You so much for this information! My daughter & son-in-law, Bill & Jennifer Rock , live in your area. Of course we worry about them & our grand children (we live in Vermont). I‘m happy to know they read your blog & are well informed! You are doing a wonderful service for all your followers . Vicki Domenick
Victoria, thanks for your comment from Vermont! I know Bill and Jen and they are the most amazing people with such big hearts. I feel very lucky that they are in our lives. I hope you are well and that you’ll keep me posted on how you’re doing :-)
Joanne from Boston says
Thanks for your willingness to share, delish recipes, overall health tips, and being such a leader in your community! Be well! Stay safe!
Joanne, thanks for reporting from Boston. I hope you and yours are safe and sound :-)