We are now in a cycle of being surprised, even shocked, that places where large numbers of people are placed in close proximity have large numbers of COVID-19 cases and even deaths.
It should be obvious if citizens are asked to wear masks and to maintain six feet of separation from other people to avoid transmission of disease, then places where that is not possible will likely have unusually high incidence of disease.
Whether the close quarters are in prisons, senior living facilities, hospitals, veterans’ homes, schools, or super starter events, why the surprise at the greater incidence of communicable disease in these places?
Many articles and headlines imply that the factors leading to this greater incidence are due to lack of care, evasion of regulations, and management failures. This is unfair to the many who work diligently in these industries. The many staffers involved are every bit the heroes as are the nurses and doctors working in hospitals.
A normal institution of the kind we’re discussing will have almost as many staffers as residents. So, imagine an institution with 250 residents who are restricted to the institution and 250 staffers who come and go every day. If only 2% of the staff in our example are sick but asymptomatic, five people every day who are already sick, will be working in the institution.
The only protection would be actual daily testing of all staff for the disease at the beginning of their workday. Widespread testing for the coronavirus with a reliable test has not been possible due to lack of test kits. Ergo, asymptomatic persons, that we know exist in the general population, will be permitted to work in the institution because no one will know they have the virus.
Why should we be surprised at the rapid spread of disease in the institution when an asymptomatic person passes the disease on to others, both staff and residents. This is not done on purpose and cannot be helped until adequate testing can be done on all residents, visitors, and staff.
Stop blaming and help encourage governments at all levels to address the lack of a solution.
Saddle River, N.J.
United Methodist Communities Board Member