Health officials wasted time on the speculative, didn’t harden the known

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedWhen you criticize during an emotional and stressful situation, there are those who reflexively throw out the triteness of hindsight being 20/20. However in the case of the Wuhan virus, it is not a case of hindsight being so clear as much as it is a case of local public health officials not seeing what was in front of them and learning from it quickly.

The first major deadly outbreak of COVID-19 was linked to the confined space of vulnerable subjects in a nursing home. On March 11th this headline was correct: “More than 60% of the US’s coronavirus deaths are linked to a Washington nursing home.”

It is common for staff at these facilities to work in multiple such places and we already knew the dangers. Texas nursing homes and care centers did put in-place tighter visitor policies when directed but it appears that local officials did not move to limit staff from these facilities from potential cross contamination of other facilities early on.

Instead of putting most attention on known nexus points for outbreak, local health and political officials began shutting down businesses only speculatively thought to be a problem.

Coronavirus outbreak at San Antonio nursing home kills one, infects at least a dozen residents, staff,” was a headline Wednesday and almost half of Lubbock’s cases, 41 on Tuesday evening’s report, and it is a much bigger percentage of the locally-spread cases, came from nursing homes.*

We knew enough early in the matter to understand the value of hard lockdowns, constant monitoring of staff and internal procedures by authorities, staff travel restrictions, and more intensive high priority monitoring of these facilities. That should have been the top priority of local communicable disease government health officials.

Lubbock got to this AFTER the major outbreak.

Instead of putting most attention on known nexus points for outbreak, local health and political officials began shutting down businesses only speculatively thought to be a problem. They used much of their time convincing an otherwise healthy public to panic and hole up in their homes when experience already demonstrated that it was close-living conditions, especially of the unhealthy, that should have received the most intensive attention early on.

* Update: By Wednesday evening Lubbock had upped its case count to 108 with 6 more nursing home spread cases and 2 under investigation.

Largest outbreaks are indeed in these closed space living places:


  1. Joe laughlin says

    The sky is falling, time for local despots to come outta hiding! This power grabbing move by mayor Pope wussy, crying loudly, scaring local citizens is totally out of line! Thus upsurping of power is illegal, immoral, and rotten to its core! Local small businesses have suffered permanent harm from this illegal upsurping of power. It’s ok for local officials to note concern for public welfare, muse about what they think is good advice in this situation, then leave free people to adjust as they feel necessary to situations around them!

    • Pratt on Texas says

      Someone I know told my wife today that while he was out for a walk he saw police lights flashing and was afraid that he might be arrested. People are generally ignorant of their rights, what these questionable “orders” actually mean, and are indeed frightened. Shockingly we had two medical offices this week tell a good friend of the show that people were not coming for their doctor appointments because they thought it illegal to leave their home – that is putting people’s lives in danger.

  2. Pratt on Texas says

    A health professional who is involved in the nursing home issue in Lubbock wrote me this after hearing me address the issue on the show:
    “Listened to your show tonight and this situation made perfect sense. I wish they would have told us the reasoning behind it like you mentioned (the nursing homes that spread this in WA and how it was spread through facilities in Lubbock). It was very disturbing to have the police surprise us with a visit here and not know what we are signing (we are very reasonable if we know what is going on and want to do everything we can to protect our vulnerable patients right now). I agree there should have been a press release on what we were asked to do prior.”

    My point was beyond a press release, the local health departments should have been working with care homes intensively way before any of the other public stuff was done. That was already known to be a primary viral nexus point.

  3. Pratt on Texas says

    Quote from a piece National Review is exactly what I pointed out in March:

    “Another problem with extreme measures is that they divert the attention of authorities from focusing on the most urgent threats posed by the disease. Two months ago a pandemic expert — a longtime friend whom I respect greatly — told me that his biggest fear was that COVID-19 would get into nursing homes. That fear has been realized, in part because in many places inadequate steps were taken to protect that population. One of the reasons for that failure may have been that authorities were distracted by the difficulties of maintaining restrictions over the whole population.”
    “It’s hard to focus on the really urgent aspects of pandemic response when, for example, government resources are being diverted to count the number of cars parked at a law office.”

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