The new year launches with the virus threatening to overwhelm Beijing, the capital of China. Xiaoguozhuang village in Hebei’s provincial capital city of Shijiazhuang has been declared a no-go zone after finding 19 confirmed and 41 asymptomatic Covid cases in one day.
On that same day as Guam records 21 new Covid infections, 75 million people in Hebei entered "wartime" mode. This powerful northern Chinese province which surrounds Beijing eminently faces the likelihood of a full lockdown.
As China ramped up its pandemic forces, the Guam Department of Public Health was confronted with the crippling loss of public school nurses and University of Guam faculty nurses who had been augmenting the local fight against Covid 19. Compounding that bad news was the loss of traveling nurses who had run up a $3 million bill at the Guam Memorial Hospital.
As Guam politicians struggle with the new normal, eleven Covid-19 patients are in local civilian hospitals, three are in the intensive care unit, and one is on a ventilator. On this day, island hospitals are full of non-Covid patients dying of heart attacks, strokes, and poor judgement.
Down on Tumon beach, the United States military is working with local hotel officials to soon bring 5,000 sailors for liberty, rest, and recreation. At the same time, island schools are actively planning the return of 20,000 students to virtual and face-face classroom instruction. Not to be outdone, the Guam Visitors Bureau is hard at work trying to bring 1.7 million tourists back to Guam.
Somehow, the governor confidently declares that Guam Public Health has all the necessary trained personnel and technical resources to reopen and keep open Guam’s schools, hotels and tourist economy. Also, the governor says that Public Health officials would be able to safely monitor the 4,000 foreign construction workers housed in cramped, vulnerable barracks. In addition, Public Health would simultaneously continue to provide timely, accessible, effective, and culturally-appropriate testing and tracing resources to the beleaguered Micronesian community.
Just then, breaking news came in from Okkodo. Public Health officials were overwhelmed by a mob of over-60 years man’amko who were demanding their free Covid-19 immunizations. They were getting tired of waiting in long lines sitting in their cars. They were mad. Well, at least they didn’t have to stand and wait in a long line in the sun like the over-75 years man’amko had to do last week.
Public Health officials quickly apologized and offered to provide more opportunities for free vaccinations. Unfortunately, Public Health did not have enough personnel to also do home immunizations or community testing as promised so those critical service would have to be postponed probably until after the weekend because Guam Public Health doesn’t like to work on the weekends or on holidays or at night or after 4:30pm.
Not even during a pandemic. Not even when the governor has shut down people’s private businesses and nonessential GovGuam employees are being forced to get paid to stay home. Not even after more than 120 fellow Guamanians have perished at the hands of this formidable virus.
Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, a mob of unmasked patriots stormed the Congressional building trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming America’s next president.
As dysfunctional as the federal government has been over this entire existential threat to humanity, the anarchic images of enraged citizens attempting overthrow the seat of American democracy was still flabbergasting.
We must all soon come to the realization that America has no good answer to this pandemic. Despite its best intentions and staggering wealth of resources, the United States is arguably the worst Covid country in the world.
So far, nearly 350,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Even with newly available vaccines, more than 500,000 Americans will be dead before the end of this pandemic.
Since December, Covid-19’s death toll in the United States has risen by roughly 2,000 or 3,000 a day. This past Christmas Eve, 2,824 Americans were killed by Covid.
The grim death toll comes on the heels of several already brutal months for the U.S. where hospital systems and intensive care units have been overwhelmed.
The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted in late November that “December, January and early February 2021 are going to be terribly painful months,” and so far he has been right.
When the virus first landed way back in January 2020, the American president declared that it was nothing to worry about. In the early days of the virus’s spread in the U.S., President Trump somehow confidently declared that everything was “under control” and that the virus would just “miraculously” disappear in warmer months. The president’s magical thinking resulted in a slow and muddled American Public Health response to Covid that likely resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
By April, the virus was threatening to overwhelm New York City, the greatest metropolis in the world. As I write this report, Covid has taken the lives of 25,362 New York citizens which is more deaths than Japan, Korea, Singapore, and China combined. The ongoing pandemic is the deadliest disaster in the history of New York City.
That same April, the Singapore government launched an aggressive "wartime" effort to break the circuit of Covid infections. Coherent, well-coordinated measures were taken to mass test the population for the virus, isolate any infected people, and strictly quarantine those with whom they had close contact. Unlike Guam, Singapore currently has had only 29 Covid deaths and has the lowest case fatality rate in the world. The American model of wasteful, disjointed medical spending and laissez faire public health management has been exposed as a fraud. Ultimately, American public health rhetoric was trumped by overwhelmed hospital intensive care units and the exploding number of tragically dead bodies.
This pandemic has been like a great purification by fire. As silver and gold are refined in fire by melting the metal and skimming the impurities, governments around the world are now being burned in the flame of viral honesty. Governments that have been tested by fire are pure and precious like gold. Those that are impure will perish.
Dr. Vince Akimoto practices Family Medicine at the American Medical Clinic. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.