It’s tough love now

This virus is not a hoax. Tough love measures are necessary to prioritize resources for where they are most needed.

By

Opinion

March 23, 2020 - 9:26 AM

Because the COVID-19 virus is now so widespread, health officials are dealing with shortages of manpower and equipment for its treatment.

One offshoot is that testing for the virus will be limited to certain segments of the population.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms — shortness of breath, fever and a dry cough — can be tested only if they:

* Are a healthcare worker or a first responder;

* Live in a long-term care facility or other healthcare  or congregate facility;

* Are over the age of 60, and

* Have an underlying health condition that would be treated differently if they were infected with COVID-19.

NOW THAT the influenza season is winding down, those who suspect they have the new coronavirus are probably correct, and as such any testing would be redundant. 

With no cure available, the best they can do is self-isolate at home for seven days or for two days after the fever has gone, whichever is longer.

Such tough love measures are necessary to prioritize resources for where they are most needed. In other words, don’t take up a health worker’s time or a clinic’s supplies if you can lay low at home.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the KDHE, delivered the rather blunt message in a televised press conference Friday afternoon. 

Norman also said the state’s supply of test kits was dangerously low, surmising it would run out by Saturday. The department had about 300 test kits in stock Friday afternoon and were on track to test 150 to 200 per day. 

As of Sunday afternoon, 24,300 cases of COVID-19 have been determined nationwide, making the actual count several times higher. 

SHORT TAKES:

GOV. LAURA Kelly allowed the renewal of all medical prescriptions to occur over the phone as opposed to in-patient visits, in order to help keep a patient more isolated. 

Unemployment claims in Kansas were almost 10 times that compared to the previous week, from 1,296 to 11,355.

On Thursday, Gov. Kelly signed a bill extending unemployment benefits by 10 weeks to 26 weeks. 

Kelly also announced interest-free loans of up to $20,000 for those in the hospitality business through a newly created state fund.  

LEE TAFFANELLI, adjutant general of the Kansas National Guard, was eager Friday to stamp out a rumor that Kansans could expect martial law to be enacted, including curfews and other heavy-handed measures to keep people off the streets.

“There’s all kinds of social media saying the National Guard is taking over, they’re on the streets,” Tafanelli said. 

It’s not so.

DAVID TOLAND, secretary of commerce, announced businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 can request low-interest loans of up to $2 million from the federal Small Business Administration

The loans carry a 3.75% interest for private business, 2.75% for private non-profits.

Why the loans carry an interest rate at all, is our beef. 

Just about every business is being hit by a downturn in activity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To charge an interest rate on funds needed to help meet payroll during this crisis is excessively punitive. 

THIS VIRUS is not a hoax. It is not a partisan attack on President Trump.

Tens of thousands of people across the country are contracting this highly contagious virus which, to date, lacks a cure or vaccine. Its mortality rate is higher than the standard influenza.

Currently Italy’s COVID-19 mortality rate is 6% — 5,500 deaths in less than one month — with many more suspected because they did not undergo testing. 

The request by Gov. Kelly and other governors to close schools and universities and limit interaction between the public at large, is not an overreaction.

But the test of their success will be tricky.

If the closings and social distancing work to keep the virus at manageable containment, people will say their reactions were overkill and the restrictions were all for nothing.

A ho-hum goal hardly seems like success.

But if the alternative were to be widespread panic and deaths, then every action we take now will be well worth it.

— Susan Lynn

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