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“We Are Way, Way Behind”: U.S. Lags on Coronavirus Testing & Medical Experts Warn “No One Is Immune”

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It has been seven weeks since the first case of the new coronavirus was reported in the United States. President Trump is claiming, “Anybody that needs a test gets a test,” but this is simply untrue. There have been just 11,000 tests so far throughout the United States since the coronavirus outbreak began, compared to nearly 20,000 tests for coronavirus every day in South Korea alone. We spend the hour looking at how the Trump administration has failed to account for what may be thousands of infections because of ongoing problems with access to testing, and how other countries have responded. We also discuss measures people must take to limit their exposure and protect their communities. We speak with Justin Lessler, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is the senior author on a new study that suggests the median incubation period for the new coronavirus is about five days. We are also joined by Dr. Steven Goodman, associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he is professor of epidemiology and population health and medicine. He is also Amy Goodman’s brother. Both schools are now holding classes online over concerns about the outbreak.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s been seven weeks since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the United States. Today we look at how the Trump administration has failed to account for what may be thousands of infections because of ongoing problems with access to testing. Here in the United States, the number of reported coronavirus infections jumped by 400 Thursday alone to about 1,650, but the actual number is believed to be far, far higher. Congress’s in-house doctor has privately told Capitol Hill staffers that he expects 70 million to 150 million people in the United States will contract the coronavirus.

Six states have announced plans to close all public schools: Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky and New Mexico. Schools in Houston, Texas, and near Seattle are also closing. Almost 5 million children are being impacted by the school closings.

All major sporting events in the United States have been halted. The NCAA has canceled the upcoming men and women’s college basketball tournaments known as March Madness. Disney has shuttered all its theme parks around the world, including Disney World in Florida. New York state has banned public gatherings of more than 500 people. Broadway has shut down. On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency as the number of confirmed cases in the city jumped from 42 to 95 in a single day.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: Again, these overall numbers are striking and troubling. We now — and even compared to this morning, we’ve seen a big jump. We now have 95 confirmed cases. That is 42 new since yesterday, so you can see the progression now.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayor de Blasio estimated New York could have a thousand cases of coronavirus by next week, and said, quote, “We’re getting into a situation where the only analogy is war,” unquote. The New York Times reports fewer than 2,000 people in New York have been tested. There have been just 11,000 tests throughout the United States. Compare this to what BBC is reporting: Nearly 20,000 people are being tested for coronavirus every day in South Korea alone.

At a congressional hearing Thursday on the coronavirus outbreak, Democratic Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida pressed CDC Director Robert Redfield on the limited availability of coronavirus tests to medical workers who think they’ve been exposed. Redfield was unable to answer and then turned to National Institute of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci for guidance. This is how Dr. Fauci, who’s the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, top member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, responded.

DR ANTHONY FAUCI: The system does not — is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: A failing, yes.

DR ANTHONY FAUCI: It is a failing, let’s admit it.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Very much so.

DR ANTHONY FAUCI: The fact is, the way the system was set up is that the public health component, that Dr. Redfield was talking about, was a system where you put it out there in the public, and a physician asks for it, and you get it.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: OK.

DR ANTHONY FAUCI: The idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: OK. That’s really disturbing, and I appreciate the information.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Fauci’s statement appeared to directly refute a claim President Trump made just last week.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. They have the test.

AMY GOODMAN: “Anybody who wants a test gets a test.” That’s what President Trump said. This comes as the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force has gone two days with no press briefings, and the World Health Organization has officially classified the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

For the rest of the hour, we’re joined by two guests. In Baltimore, Justin Lessler is with us. He’s associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior author on a new study that suggests the median incubation period for the new coronavirus is about five days. And joining us from Stanford University, which is now closed to students on campus — it’s got online learning — Dr. Steven Goodman is with us, associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he’s also a professor of epidemiology and population health and medicine — oh, and he’s also my brother. He joins us from Stanford University. Yes, they are continuing, like Johns Hopkins, to hold their classes online over concerns about COVID-19.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Steve, let’s begin with you. I consider you my lifeline on issues like this, and that’s why we called you. Why don’t we start by this issue of testing. It is absolutely astounding that in countries like South Korea, where we hear the tests are something like 20,000 a day, in this country it is believed that there have only been 11,000 tests over the entire period of this outbreak. How is this possible? What happened?

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Well, I don’t know all the details of what happened, but it is clear that there were decisions that were made centrally about what tests to use and restrictions on who could do the test. That has been changed. And finally, other laboratories, including one at Stanford, have finally been authorized to develop and now deliver their own tests. So the original decisions to use a U.S.-specific test, not the one that was suggested by the WHO, which has been used in many, many other countries, in retrospect, obviously, was a big mistake. And we had trouble manufacturing and distributing a valid test centralized at the CDC.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is the critical

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: But now that we have —

AMY GOODMAN: This is the critical issue, right? I mean, there was a test available. It was the World Health Organization test, the one that countries all over the world are using now. But the CDC made a decision not to accept that test. They made their own test, sent it out, and it was faulty.

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: That’s right. So now we’re having to depend on the many labs around the country and commercial laboratories to develop and offer this test. We are really just gearing up now for that. The Stanford test, which is the one that’s being used regionally, also for a variety of medical institutions, I think this week they were offering between 200 and 300 a day. They say that next week they’ll be up to about a thousand a day. That obviously is not remotely enough to track where the epidemic is going, but that’s what we have right now regionally. Nationally, I don’t know what the capacity is, but, as Dr. Fauci said, we are way, way behind.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s bring Professor Justin Lessler into this conversation, from Hopkins, from Johns Hopkins. Let’s talk about why testing is so important. Why is it so important that we know in this country where the disease is, where the outbreak is? Why is it important to know the number?

JUSTIN LESSLER: I mean, this is our ability to have situational awareness about what’s going on with the virus, where it is, how to react. So, you know, the most extreme measures that we take to combat the virus, essentially, potentially closing whole cities down, like they did in China or Italy, we don’t want to do those in places where there isn’t a lot of — you know, there isn’t actually a lot of disease. And we don’t want to wait 'til the hospitals are filling up with dead people to do this, because then it's sort of too late. So, we want to react in time. And that means we need testing, and that means we need to be testing with the right intention.

I think there is still some inertia towards trying to test people who have traveled, etc., with the idea that we’re going to go around those people and contain and trace their contacts and try to find those chains of transmission. But I think we maybe need to rethink that, with the idea that what we really want is situational awareness about what’s going on in the community and what silent outbreaks might be happening, so that we can respond accordingly in our public health measures.

AMY GOODMAN: And in terms of people isolating themselves, Dr. Steve Goodman, if you can talk about what it means not to have a test, so you don’t know even if you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive? And also, isn’t it true that these tests at this point, in most cases, take days to get results, although there are some that are now being developed that simply take hours? But what it means for people protecting the community?

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Well, as Justin said, people don’t actually know what the threat is. They don’t know how many people around them have the disease, and they don’t know, obviously, whether they themselves have the disease, if they have been exposed. So it’s very, very difficult for either public health authorities to calibrate the response properly, as Justin just described, or individuals to calibrate their own actions.

And I also want to point out that when we talk about self-isolation or anything that an individual can do, the paradigm really has to be not just what can I do to protect myself, but what can we each do to protect each other. And the act of self-isolation is not just individual protection. It is protecting everybody you’re in contact with. But to know how extreme the behavior should be, whether you should not go to a park, whether you should not go to the store, is very much driven by your awareness, as Justin described as situational awareness, of how many cases there are, often silent cases, in your own community, in your own neighborhood, going to your own stores. So this decision, this personal decision, has social and health consequences. But without testing, we’re flying blind.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the issue of coronavirus, and if you could talk about the difference, Steve, or what the language is — coronavirus, COVID-19 — for people to understand. Explain that, the lexicon there of this disease, and also how it compares to the flu. President Trump has repeatedly tried to say that the flu kills tens of thousands of people. He said, “Who knew the flu killed?” It actually turns out that his grandfather, Frederick Trump, died of the flu in this country at a young age. But he tried to use it to show, you know, coronavirus doesn’t even compare. So talk about both, the language we use and what it means in comparison with the flu.

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Well, COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus specifically. And what we’re most concerned about is obviously the spread of the disease.

Let me talk about the flu. And the flu is a big killer, and it does infect many people. I think we have roughly in the range of 15 million to 20 million in this season alone in the United States, with a roughly one in a thousand death rate, so in the range of 15,000 to 20,000 deaths from the flu. So, a flu is very, very serious. But that represents roughly 5 to 7% of the U.S. population. And the reason it doesn’t represent more is because both we have flu shots and we have years, decades of sort of cross-reactive immunity built up over people who have been exposed to different virus strains.

The difference with this virus is two. First of all, no one is immune. So, in theory, 100% of the population is susceptible to this virus, or very close to it. The second part is the fatality rate, either for people who present to the medical care system sick enough to go to a doctor or per infection, which is something different because not everybody who is infected necessarily goes to a doctor, looks to be a fair bit higher than the flu, maybe on the order of five times, maybe even 10 times higher than the flu. So we have maybe a much, much larger reservoir of susceptible people, on the order of 10 to 20 times larger, and we have a fatality rate that is between five and 10 times larger. So that’s why the potential for this, even though we have a tiny fraction of the cases and deaths right now, why we’re taking the extreme measures that we are taking.

Now, all that said, a lot — the fatality rate can be affected by what we do. And that’s why we’re doing it now, because the fatality rate is a function both of the age of the people who are infected but also of the capability of the medical care system to take care of them. So, if we can protect the medical care system — that is, keep the number of patients coming in at a rate that they can be cared for, with adequate ICU beds and ventilators, etc., and also healthy medical care folks — we can keep the fatality rate low, or at least lower than it would have been without that.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break, then come back to this discussion. We’re going to talk about strategies to keep yourself and your family healthy, what to say to children — both of you, Dr. Goodman and Dr. Lessler, have children — how you’re talking to them about what could be, to say the least, extremely frightening for them, as it is for the whole population. And I want to ask Dr. Lessler about the study he did in China, comparing Wuhan and how it dealt with the coronavirus with a community right next door. We’re talking to Dr. Steven Goodman. He is associate dean of the Stanford Medical School, and Justin Lessler, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health associate professor. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with them in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “The Long Day Is Over” by Norah Jones. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. And I also just want to say, I can’t say enough about the team of people who are making this broadcast possible. As everyone in this country right now is dealing with this pandemic, as people are around the world, it takes a community. And we have an amazing one here, and I am ever thankful every single day.

Seven weeks since the first case of the coronavirus was reported in the United States, we’re spending the hour looking at how the Trump administration not only has failed to account for what is clearly thousands of infections in this country because of ongoing problems with access to testing, but we’re talking about what needs to happen next. This is the critical issue. We’re broadcasting from New York. The mayor of New York just declared a state of emergency in the city. He said while there are about a hundred people who have tested positive just in New York City alone, next week he expects it to be a thousand. Just down the road, in New Rochelle, in Westchester, is the epicenter of the coronavirus. And that came from one person who tested positive. And very soon after, his wife and two kids tested positive, and now there’s well over 150 people. The National Guard are now in New Rochelle. The schools are closed. They want to make sure kids get food, because many kids all over this country get free lunch at school. What happens when the schools are closed? So, we’re going to be talking about a lot of issues.

Still with us is Dr. Steven Goodman, associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he’s also professor of epidemiology and population health and medicine, trained as a pediatrician. He is also my brother, my lifeline on issues like these. He’s joining us from Stanford University. And joining us from Baltimore is Justin Lessler, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior author on a new study that suggests the median incubation period for the new coronavirus is about five days.

So, Justin Lessler, I want to start there. What does that mean? Why is that significant, that the incubation period is perhaps five days? We’ve been hearing a lot about 10 and 14. And then I want to ask you about your work in China.

JUSTIN LESSLER: So, the median incubation period is five days. So that means 50% of people are going to develop symptoms within five days of being infected. But it’s important to remember that’s not necessarily the number we’re most concerned with, if we’re thinking about quarantine or active monitoring or self-isolation after potential exposure, because we don’t want half the people who are infected to be out there in the community potentially spreading the virus before they know they have it. So, what we’re more concerned with is what we call the long tail of that. And that’s where we get to the fact that in our study we showed that about 98% of people develop symptoms by 12 days, which suggests that the 14-day period of quarantine or active monitoring suggested by almost every public health agency around the world is pretty good. I mean, some people will get through that, but it’s pretty good and is going to capture the vast majority of people who will develop symptoms, will do so during that period.

AMY GOODMAN: So let me ask you about your work in China. Talk about the study that you just completed comparing Wuhan to a neighboring city. Tell us about the outbreak in Wuhan, what happened, how it was dealt with, and how it was dealt with nearby.

JUSTIN LESSLER: So, just to be clear, our study was looking at the epidemiology in Shenzhen, China. We weren’t directly comparing with Wuhan. But Wuhan, just to talk about it a bit, you know, is the epicenter of the entire outbreak. They clearly had things get out of control in the beginning and had to shut down the entire city and really a lot of the whole province of Hubei, which they’ve now had to do in Italy, as well. So it’s an example of both how bad things can get if we’re not careful about staying on top of things and very proactive, but it’s also an example of the fact that massive direct action can sort of squash the epidemic and stop the virus.

So, where we did our work, in Shenzhen, there has been no big outbreak. And part of that, I think, is proactive social distancing measures, so the types of things we’re starting to see in the United States now, stopping mass events, having people work from home and the like, but they also had very intensive surveillance and very intensive contact tracing of cases that came in from Hubei province and elsewhere in China. And that probably played a big role in why they didn’t have an epidemic.

AMY GOODMAN: So, can you talk about the fact that it looks like both in China — it’s hard to say we’re saying there’s good news out of China right now —

JUSTIN LESSLER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: — because of this terrible pandemic, but the actual good news that’s coming out of China and South Korea, as opposed to what we’re seeing right now in Italy and now the United States, where we’re just beginning to understand the scope of the outbreak here?

JUSTIN LESSLER: Yeah. So, China clearly has been able to contain the disease, at least temporarily. I think there’s a big question of what happens as they start to dial back all of the extreme measures they’ve taken in order to contain the disease, and whether we see a resurgence or whether they’re — excuse me, whether they’re able to do that in a way that more gradually — you know, a more gradual dial back in a way that prevents the virus from resurging in the country. And Italy is — you know, I think Italy is taking a similar course to China, where it remains to be seen how effective it is in Italy. It’s very different culturally. Population is different.

You know, in U.S., we’re in a different part of the outbreak. And I think the hope is, since we’re early, by doing things proactively — canceling the NBA, canceling the NCAA tournament, everybody working from home, closing schools — that we can get to a point where we’re slowing the spread of the virus without having to have measures as extreme as were taken in China.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Steve Goodman, if you could talk about what’s happened in Italy, the horrific turn of events there, where the entire country is on lockdown, where the medical system is clearly overwhelmed, and then talk about the United States and this whole issue of flattening the curve, a term I think a lot of people are just beginning to hear right now? But what do you understand took place in Italy?

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Well, I don’t have special expertise about exactly what’s going on in Italy. But what is very, very clear is that the degree of spread and [inaudible] has overwhelmed the medical care system. That is very clear. So, part of what’s happening there is an example of when an epidemic goes to its peak and is greater than the medical infrastructure can take care of it. And as you may know, there have been extremely poignant pieces, both tweets and other forms of communication, by Italian doctors who literally have, with great distress, talked about how they had to basically choose life and death for patients for whom they had to choose who to ventilate and who not to, because they only had a limited number of ventilators. So we don’t want to get there in this country. So, again, it shows that the case fatality rate, which ultimately is one of the numbers that produces the most fear, is a function not only of how many cases or how many serious cases, but how much can be absorbed and properly treated by the medical care system.

And so, that gets right into your second question, which is about flattening the curve. The goal of mitigation efforts now, which is to obviously lower the number of cases and spread them out, is to keep the number of cases to a level where the medical care system can adequately take care of each one, where we have enough personnel, where we have enough ventilators, we have enough ICU beds, we have enough beds in the hospital to take care of everybody optimally. And the idea of flattening the curve is taking a certain number of cases that would occur in a certain period of time and spreading it out over time, so the peak is less and so it occurs over a much longer period of time, and hopefully, obviously, also reducing the number of cases. But this match, both regionally and nationally, between the number of facilities, personnel, beds and equipment, this has to be matched with the number of cases that are in that area. It would be nice to hear from public health officials or national officials how they plan to shift resources if in fact the medical care capabilities in any particular region is outstripped by the number of cases. But that’s what flattening the curve is all about. And that’s what all of the measures just described by yourself and by Justin are attempting to do.

AMY GOODMAN: And this issue of respirators in the United States, of ventilators, of the access — most people, they do not want to go to the hospital, even to their doctors’ offices. Most people actually will survive this, and it’s like a flu. And for many people, it’s mild, and for children, even less so, though they can be carriers. But this issue of overwhelming the number of respirators, of ventilators in hospitals around the country, can you explain that?

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Well, obviously, the numbers are limited. I think we have something on the order of a million beds. And the actual number that are available on any one day is about a third of that. The number of ICU beds is a fraction of that. And I want to make a particular point that this is not just about caring for COVID patients. The number of COVID patients entering the system affects the care of other patients. So, the kinds of things we take for granted in terms of care of any of us for any serious disease is affected by the demand on the medical care system for the care of COVID patients. So, we are not geared up as a society with the surge capacity to handle the number of potential COVID patients that we would get if we didn’t do anything. So the kinds of things we’re doing now are to keep the numbers below the surge capacity, the limited, very limited, surge capacity that we have. And again, this is not just a national issue. We can’t just count up the number of national beds. We have to look at this regionally — the number of cases in New York City, the number of ICU beds in New York City — and have facility to move those cases if in fact those numbers don’t match up.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Steve Goodman is associate dean at Stanford Medical School. Justin Lessler is a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. We’re continuing with them after this break.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “The Reckoner” by Radiohead. This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. The British government says up to 10,000 people may now be infected by the coronavirus. On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on people who are sick to self-quarantine.

PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. Some people compare it to seasonal flu. Alas, that is not right. Owing to the lack of immunity, this disease is more dangerous. And it’s going to spread further. And I must level with you, level with the British public. More families, many more families, are going to lose loved ones before their time.

AMY GOODMAN: British Prime Minister Johnson. He did not close schools or ban gatherings of more than 500 people. Britain’s chief medical officer said, in a worst-case scenario, more than 80% of Britain would contract the virus. With a 1% mortality rate, that equates to more than half a billion [sic] deaths, 500,000 — half a million deaths. Half a million deaths. Here in the United States, during his press conference in Vermont Thursday, Senator Sanders said the federal government would prioritize the care of communities who are — that they should prioritize the care of communities most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic: the elderly, people with disabilities, unhoused people, low-income people, those who are uninsured and unemployed.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We need also in this economic crisis to place an immediate moratorium on evictions, on foreclosures and on utility shutoffs, so that no one loses their home during this crisis and that everyone has access to clean water, electricity, heat and air conditioning. We need to construct emergency homeless shelters to make sure that the homeless, survivors of domestic violence, and college students quarantined off campus are able to receive the shelter, the healthcare and the nutrition they need.

AMY GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden will debate in Washington, D.C., as opposed to Arizona, where they were going to debate, and there will not be an audience because of the coronavirus.

Dr. Steve Goodman, dean at Stanford Medical School, and Justin Lessler, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, are with us, from Baltimore and from Stanford, California. Dr. Steve Goodman, this issue of the poor in the United States, the people who are working poor, who are without insurance, people who are unemployed. While everyone says that the coronavirus hits everyone, which is clearly true, there are communities that are particularly vulnerable right now. How must they be protected?

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Well, this is an issue for public health officials. Obviously, they have to be able to take the same measures that anybody would take to reduce the spread, the ones we’ve already talked about. However, the ability for less wealthy or poor individuals to take time off from work to sequester themselves in their homes, to take care of their children, may be quite different than others. So, we have to think about it — I think Bernie has it about right. We have to think about this as a social responsibility, not just an issue for individual action, because people’s ability to protect themselves are constrained by their own economic circumstances and their own living circumstances. If they’re living in very, very tight quarters with many people and in communities where other people might be sick, it is very, very difficult for them to take care of themselves. And needless to say, if they don’t have access to medical care or they’re afraid to seek it because they’re afraid of the bills, that’s another huge problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Or if they’re undocumented and afraid.

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: So we have to make it easy for people to get tested and to access care.

AMY GOODMAN: And if they’re undocumented and afraid to seek it, and afraid to seek testing, as well.

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: Justin Lessler, if you could also address this issue? And then I’d like to ask you how you’re talking to your children.

JUSTIN LESSLER: So, I agree. It’s absolutely critical to find ways to protect those populations, that are not going to be able to make those social distancing measures, have more trouble with that, potentially have food insecurity if they don’t go to school or go to places where there might be mass gatherings. And I think it’s one of those things where we do have an individual responsibility not to just keep ourselves out of the community, but do things to help others keep themselves out of the community. The government is going to be overwhelmed by this. And, you know, we’re not, as a country, set up to provide the services in a crisis the way that is maybe needed now. And so, people need to set up —

AMY GOODMAN: Right now in Congress there’s a bill being weighed, the Democrat-led House set to vote on a bill that would grant workers 14 days of paid sick leave, up to three months of a paid family and medical leave, unemployment insurance to furloughed workers, includes an additional $500 million to help feed low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off because of the virus outbreak. President Trump said he did not support the bill. But because we’re coming to the end of this conversation, as people push hard for the entire community to be protected, yes, this hits individuals, but it also brings out the importance of people around the world as a community. Can you talk about what you’re saying to your kids, Professor Lessler?

JUSTIN LESSLER: Yeah. I mean, my son is 6, and his school just got canceled. So, I’m trying to explain to him that there’s a disease out there that’s scary. You know, he also is wondering why his dad’s working so much. You know, so I’m trying to explain to him that it’s important to wash his hands, that it’s important to think about what he’s doing out there in the community and that maybe he won’t be able to go to school, do some of the same things that he is usually able to do for fun. I can talk more explicitly to my mother, who is in her seventies and at high risk, who I had to sort of say, you know, “This is real. Stay home. Self-isolate. Don’t go out.” This is time —

AMY GOODMAN: And this is a critical point here, that the children don’t tend to — children, this is not as fatal for as it is for older people, especially over 70 and 80.

JUSTIN LESSLER: Right. I mean, in Wuhan, at last report I saw from Wuhan that was in detail, out of a thousand deaths, over a thousand deaths, only one was in somebody under 20 years of age. So, it’s pretty mild, and children do not seem to be at risk, even more so than the flu, where we see children get sick and potentially die occasionally in the youngest ages. That doesn’t seem to be happening right now with the coronavirus. But we do not know. We know they can get infected, and we do not know whether or not they can pass it on. So, you know, keeping children —

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, children with asthma —

JUSTIN LESSLER: — from getting infected may be a critical part of —

AMY GOODMAN: — are more imperiled.

JUSTIN LESSLER: Presumably. We don’t know for sure.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Steve, what you tell your kids, my nieces and nephew, who are a bit older, but also, as so many people in this country, afraid right now?

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Yes. So, what’s interesting is that my kids are both in college, actually here at Stanford. And they’re more worried for us. I don’t have to tell them everything, anything. They read. They’re smart. And they’re much more concerned about their threat to us than anything else. So they’re taking the steps they need to take to prevent us from getting sick. And it’s a very interesting reversal of generational roles, perhaps a premonition of the future. But I think this is a responsibility that many young people feel, not just to protect themselves, because they themselves are not that worried, but they are definitely worried about the older generation, the same way that Justin is concerned about his mom.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, your oldest daughter just had a baby here in New York in the midst of this pandemic.

DR. STEVEN GOODMAN: Indeed, yes. And she is naturally self-isolating, but is being extremely careful about her own exposure, and needless to say, and her new child.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us, Dr. Steven Goodman, associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he’s also professor of epidemiology and population health and medicine, and also my brother, and Justin Lessler, associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

We also want to welcome to the world Andrés Aritz Moreno Camarena. Congratulations to Igor, Libe and Adrián!

That does it for our show. Everyone, wash your hands. Be safe. I’m Amy Goodman. An enormous thank you to the whole team that made Democracy Now! happen today. Thanks so much.

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