A Purpose for Testing


It took me a while to cut through the baloney of “Let’s test so we know the lethality and the spread of the virus so we can make more informed decisions.” That may have had value two months ago when it came to the US, but that ship has now sailed. Every state has thousands (tens of thousands) of carriers in its population now.

The reasons for mass testing today comes down to this:

  1. a) if you love data and numbers and quantifying COVID-19, you want to make and to mine data for intellectual understanding. There are no decisions to be made about public health that have not already been made.
  2. b) if you love people, you want testing so you can isolate the concealed carriers to prevent spreading it to others AND so you can alleviate the fears in those who are worried they may have been exposed but were not.

There will always be more people infected in week two than in week one, and more in week three than in week two. It will continue until 50% of the population is infected or until a vaccine is deployed…which is the same as infecting the entire population with a weakened form of the virus. As long as there is freedom of movement, the infection will spread. You can’t stop the movement of people. You can change the speed of the spread but not the breadth of it. Changing speed is the purpose of isolation and quarantine.

Removing isolation and quarantine will arithmetically increase the rate of the spread because there are now tens of thousands of infected people walking around. It will be a pandemic on steroids. God help us.

We will all be infected. Eventually, the number of people infected will exceed those yet to be infected, and the spread of infection will become organic in society. Deaths will equal new infections at some point in time, and a balance in Nature will have occurred.

Just as millions of older adults died each year, from pneumonia before COVID-19, millions of people will die from COVID-19-induced pneumonia in the future. I am not making light of this and saying do nothing; I am saying that COVID-19 will be a much more lethal infection to fight in the elderly, and immune-system compromised people, but it will not go away.

Read the intelligent comments in this article. The author is wrong, but the comments are spot-on.








Author: Reasonable Citizen

Reserved, inquisitive, looks before leaping, www.reasonablecitizen.com

2 thoughts on “A Purpose for Testing”

  1. I don’t think we are testing to make public health decisions at all. We are testing to make *individual* health decisions:

    1) will a positive test change the care or protections applied to a patient? If yes, give the test.

    2) Could a first responder have been exposed to the virus and subsequently contracted the disease, and therefore could be a risk to others? If yes, give the test.

    3) is the person wealthy, a celebrity, or a very high ranking elected official? If yes, give the test.

    (Okay, that last one is snarky but it seems to be true in some cases… )

    To your point the other day, we are not testing whole communities, or even random samplings of communities. But we are using the imperfect, skewed data that we have to make some public health decisions or at least to talk about the magnitude of the problem.

    It seems the most reliable statistic is deaths from the disease. But the time delay between public protective action and resulting change in data is so large and there are so many complicating factors that it’s hard to justify basing such decisions on data. Which is why many decisions are actually based on models.

  2. Who is setting up the drive thru testing lanes? Hospitals or Public Health officials? I kinda would like to know this. I think it is wholesale testing in NYC , isn’t it?
    To your point on celebrity testing, the comments in the article dig into that issue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s