April 7, 2020
Do you trust the government and the health regulators who are supposed to be on top of the coronavirus?
Early last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) was advising, “don’t bother wearing a mask – they’ll do more harm than good.”
But over the weekend, that advice has reversed to “everyone should wear masks in public… and here’s how to make one from a bandana or T-shirt now that you can’t buy any.”
This hasn’t been the first time that U.S. health authorities have flubbed this coronavirus crisis. Journalist and frequent contributor John Stossel shows how regulatory red tape has killed Americans…
The Red Tape Pandemic
By John Stossel
Coronavirus is frightening.
I’m working from home, practicing “social distancing.” Experts say it’ll help “flatten the curve” so fewer people will be infected simultaneously. Then hospitals won’t be overwhelmed.
But the infection rate grows. Doctors and hospitals may yet be overwhelmed.
It didn’t have to get to this point.
Coronavirus deaths have leveled off in South Korea.
That’s because people in Korea could easily find out if they had the disease. There are hundreds of testing locations – even pop-up drive-thru testing centers. Because Koreans got tested, Korean doctors knew who needed to be isolated and who didn’t. As a result, Korea limited the disease without mass quarantines and shortages.
Not in America. In America, a shortage of COVID-19 tests has made it hard for people to get tested. Even those who show all the symptoms have a difficult time.
Why weren’t there enough tests?
Because our government insists on control of medical innovation…
When coronavirus appeared, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made its own tests and insisted that people only use those CDC tests. But the CDC test often gave inaccurate results. Some early versions of the test couldn’t distinguish between coronavirus and water.
Private companies might have offered better tests, and more of them, but that wasn’t allowed. The World Health Organization even released information on how to make such tests, but our government still said no. Instead, all tests must go through the government’s cumbersome approval process. That takes months. Or years.
Hundreds of labs had the ability to test for the virus, but they weren’t allowed to test.
As a result, doctors can’t be sure exactly where outbreaks are happening. Instead of quarantining just sick people, state governors are forcing entire states to go on lockdown.
At the same time, many people who show no symptoms do have COVID-19. Without widespread testing, we don’t know who they are, and so the symptomless sick are infecting others.
A few weeks ago, the government finally gave up its monopoly and said it was relaxing the rules. There would be quick “emergency-use authorizations” replacing the months- or years-long wait for approval. But even that took so long that few independent tests were approved.
So President Donald Trump waived those rules, too.
Now tests are finally being made. But that delay killed people. It’s still killing people.
Other needlessly repressive rules prevented doctors and hospitals from trying more efficient ways to treat patients.
For example, telemedicine allows doctors and patients to communicate through the internet. When sick people consult doctors from home, they don’t pass on the virus in crowded waiting rooms. But lawyers and bureaucrats claimed such communications wouldn’t be “secure,” and would violate patients’ privacy.
Only about a week ago did officials announce they would allow doctors to “serve patients through everyday communications technologies.”
Americans shouldn’t have to ask permission to use “everyday” technologies.
Now doctors fear that as more people get sick, hospitals won’t have enough beds for the critically ill.
But the bed shortage is another consequence of bad law. Critical access hospitals in rural areas are not allowed to have more than 25 beds. Trump has now announced that he’s waiving those rules.
In some states, there’s a shortage of doctors or nurses. That, too, is often a product of bad law – state licensing laws that make it illegal for professionals licensed in one state to work in another. Trump said he would waive “license requirements so that the doctors from other states can provide services to states with the greatest need.” Then it turned out that he could only allow that for Medicare – he didn’t have the power to override stupid state licensing rules.
Fortunately, many states finally waived harmful licensing laws on their own.
It’s good that governments finally removed some rules.
But the time that took killed people.
Once coronavirus passes, America should leave those regulations waived.
And we should repeal many others.
John Stossel is author of Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media. © Creators
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
What’s Up With All the Contradictory Advice About COVID-19 and Face Masks?
This week, CDC Director Robert Redfield told NPR his agency is “critically looking at” the issue of who should use face masks. “Particularly with the new data [indicating] that there’s significant asymptomatic transmission,” he said, “this is being critically re-reviewed to see if there’s potential additional value for individuals that are infected or individuals that may be asymptomatically infected.” Hoover Institution economist Russell Roberts translated Redfield for us: “We misled you. Wear a mask.”
Coronavirus Cases Rise Sharply, as U.S. Braces for Most Challenging Days Ahead
The next week will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday, drawing comparisons with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Where will the bodies go? Morgues plan as virus grows
In Washington, D.C., which has a morgue that can hold about 270 bodies, officials said they would seek help from federal partners if needed. Dallas has a plan for refrigerated space as part of its emergency preparedness efforts. And Chicago is already using a trailer outside the medical examiner’s office for the bodies of coronavirus victims, and may use a refrigerated warehouse if needed.
In a hunt for returns, many investors are buying junk bonds
Interest rates on risky bonds have spiked across the world, which means the corresponding prices of those securities have fallen. The result is that some investors are buying bonds of companies that carry high default risk.
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
April 7, 2020