Day 38-Quarantine-Six Trillion Dollar Experiment

This COVID-19 is bringing back memories of my past life as an engineer. One thing that would spoil my day was a customer complaint of a cable tie failure. Because it was my job to maintain and produce better quality, performance, and reliability of the product line I had to jump into the fire immediately. The quality manager came to me and asked what are you going to do to keep this from happening again? Sound familiar? It is the same question reporters ask President Trump every day. One question begets another, Like tell me how the product was being used, applied, what environment was it used in? The questions asked by me countered the what are you going to do question. We used a unique quality control numbering system that allowed us to trace the manufacture of a specific product back to the material it came from. The problem was that no-one ever thought to capture the number when they complained about a product. We sold cable ties in bags of one thousand with a QC number on the bag. If I got one cable tie back it was a miracle. Sometimes it was the failed product, at other times it was just another one from the bag. We hit the bonanza when we got samples of failed product and the unused product still in its original container. It was a miracle if we got all of that and a description of the application, and environment. I spun my wheels for countless hours tracking down the possibilities. I had to initiate lab tests, I did microscopic exams, and material checks, and most times I failed to come up with an answer. I needed more data. I feel for the COVID-19 Task force when they are asked the stupid questions like will the virus come back in fall. I would not last on that stage very long because I tend to become sarcastic very quickly. If it is one thing I learned over forty years of being put into a situation where I had to answer questions it is that you don’t create an answer if you don’t know the answer. Real answers need facts and analysis by experts and even then the predictions are tenuous at best.

 

During the last week I have heard too many people demanding more testing. Governors stating we don’t have enough testing, employers stating they need testing before they can allow people to go back to work. The good doctors on the podium explain where they can get tests done, but no one wants to take the lead and get it started. I hear excuses like we went to the lab you suggested but they need an approval from the FDA for a reagent, Why? They can’t get the one that is approved. So what are you doing about getting alternate approved? What about a different lab with different test apparatus? I love to hear VP Pence report. He has some very bright and science minded problem solvers working on his teams. They seem to anticipate problems and the questions they will get not because they want to cool off the reporters, but because they are on top of the problem and want to get it solved.

One of the doctors mentioned that the virus does not live long in UV light. I love it because Trump picked up that bit of info and his mind began inventing ways to use the UV to kill the virus in the body. A true entrepreneur he is. The press kicked his ass all day today because they couldn’t fathom how such a procedure would be executed. I heard Rush Limbaugh explain that he found a medical procedure that actually uses uv light in the body to aid the cure. The Press assassinated Trump all day today about his people killing suggestions.

For instance, you test negative and you are cleared to work. You show up at work and touch something that has the virus on it and become a carrier. What did the test accomplish? Or you test positive for the virus and go into quarantine for two weeks, but when you go back to work you touch something and become a carrier. What business really needs is a tester like the ones the Iranians have devised (except it works) which detects the virus in an area. At least then the area can be sanitized before anyone comes it to reinfect it.

The real value we will get from testing is data that can be used to statistically answer all the questions about the virility of the virus. That is coming ever so slowly as we fight the virus and test to learn. Even when we learn everything we need to know, we still haven’t gotten one step closer to a vaccine. The problem at the head of the list today is not testing but finding a cure.

Actually, the number one problem today is not the cure, but getting the economy back to where it was. It should be easier now that we know as much as we do about the virus, and how deadly it is or isn’t.

2 Responses

  1. It seems the utter lack of activity on the economic front is going to claim more casualties than the virus itself.

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