Right now, the biggest issue we face is the lack of available medical ventilators and hospital beds.
The total number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation will be determined by how well we manage to “Flatten the curve.” (see article: “Flatten the Curve,” Explained: Preventing An Avalanche of Covid-19 Cases)
We cannot pass the point where available ventilators and associated health care resources is exceeded by the number of people requiring such health services.
A ventilator, for those unsure of exactly what the terminology refers to, is a contraption, nowadays with a computer at its core, which moves pneumatically compressed breathable air into,and out of, a patient’s lungs.
A CPAP machine, or continuous positive airway pressure device, is probably the equipment we’re most familiar with, as it’s used for sleep apnea and other common conditions.
This medical device is essential in cases where a patient can no longer breathe on their own.
Any Islanders love reading Pulitzer Prize-winning Staten Islander Paul Zindel novels as much as I have?
You may recall in I Never Loved Your Mind, the main character, Dewey Daniels, worked as an assistant to a doctor, maintaining the Bird respirator system.
Nowadays, the word “respirator” refers to something else entirely; it simply means a protective face mask.
Of course, the number of available ventilators is finite.
However, more can be manufactured.
The government must place orders with health care equipment companies making such equipment for an expedited order.
If we must supplement commercial output with new fabrication plants underwritten by the States, or at the Federal level, so be it.
These factories must be running night and day, and for defensive strategic reason, located within the borders of the United States.
There should be far more available ventilators than we presently have in the U.S., and also have the means, within our own borders, to quickly make more on demand.
These life-critical machines must be as reliable as possible, as people’s lives are literally riding on their rising and falling puffs of expelled oxygen-rich air.
Precisely how this arrangement will be worked out matters little; the new plants can be operated and owned by the various States, the Federal government, or private commercial interests.
What’s essential, however, is that output is increased, thereby raising the point on charts displaying a parabolic curve of infection rate over time, at which we’ve exceeded available resources.
If we’re likewise struggling for hospital beds, temporary constructions, whether in the form of tents, pre-fabricated buildings, or even re-purposing commercial areas as a temporary hospital spill-over area, is crucial.
Almost every American city and town has a strip mall, perhaps even an office building, standing vacant, decimated after the last economic downturn now over ten years ago.
These commercial spaces were not built as hospitals, but they’re still standing, providing shelter from the elements, have existing climate control, and lots of parking all around for additional space to set up tents or trailer wards.
In fact, just hours ago today the Army Corps of Engineers outlined a plan to re-purpose hotels, college dormitory buildings, and convention centers as temporary hospitals, throughout the New York City region and beyond.
Army Corps of Engineers Commander Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite explained the plan during a Pentagon briefing today: “We want to go into existing facilities primarily…”
“…these hotels are empty, the people don’t have jobs. We would go in and cut a contract to be able to have the state set up a lease with that facility and then we would then take the building over in a period of exceptionally short days and then we would go in and turn this into an ICU like facility.”
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to modify the empty space within these structures, building temporary rooms, altering the air pressure, outfitting the space with communications equipment and medical supplies, as well as utilizing hallways and other areas for nurses’ stations.
The point is, the United States, and all nations of the world, should have been better prepared for this contingency.
With such massive budgets for defense, how could an outbreak of virulent pathogenic disease have not been foreseen?
The U.S. no longer has a functioning bio-weapons program, since it was shut down by President Nixon, announced in his “Statement on Chemical and Biological Defense Policies and Programs” given in November 25, 1969 at Ford Detrick.
However, labs still develop and grow deadly bacteria and viruses, but now it’s for the purpose of studying those organisms to learn more about how they function. The express purpose is to create new vaccines and treatment protocols.
Either way, for defense, offense, or research, these tiny bugs are here, and they can escape. That would be a tragedy.
Additionally, there are yet tons of bacteria and viruses in the wild that have yet to really begin infecting human hosts; Covid-19 is one such virus.
There are always going to be lurking biological threats.
All I’m saying is that we should be prepared, no…over-prepared.
What will the harm be if we increase our capacity to deal with unforeseen calamity?
We have resources. We just have to be inventive and figure out how to use what’s available, and set up methods of creating what’s not in record time.
President Trump has the power, as the head of the Executive Branch of government, to invoke the Defense Production Act, last utilized during the Korean War, which could accomplish the goals stated in this article, and more.
Masks could be ordered to be made. Rubbing alcohol. Essentials, both simple and complex.
At the suggestion of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) during a phone call earlier today, President Trump immediately turned to one of his staffers and commanded, “‘Do it now.”
The Defense Production Act of 1950 was enacted for the purpose of allowing the sitting president to mobilize civil defense and war preparedness efforts, whereby the Federal government might direct private business to increase production of vital
The Defense Priorities and Allocation System (DPAS) delineate precisely how this act may be implemented.