Bypass all the bureaucracy to find a cure
The Warren Tribune Chronicle, May 4
Give federal regulators credit for recognizing that the coronavirus pandemic is no time for business as usual. The Food and Drug Administration, in particular, seems to have surgically removed some of the red tape from its process.
On Friday, the FDA announced it will be permitting emergency use of a new drug, remdesivir, which has shown promise in shortening the time COVID-19 patients need to recover from the potentially deadly disease.
Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences, was tested in a study involving 1,063 patients. It shortened the time needed to recover from the coronavirus by an average of 31 percent. On average, COVID-19 sufferers treated with remdesivir were able to leave the hospital in 11 days. Patients in the control group, which did not receive the drug, required an average of 15 days.
Gilead, incidentally, planned to donate its stock of remdesivir and put production in high gear to make more available.
One need not by a scientist to recognize the potential value of remdesivir — or to wonder how many lives it might have saved if it had been available sooner.
That has been a perennial complaint about the FDA: the time needed to gain federal approval for use of new drugs. The COVID-19 tragedy ought to prompt both the FDA and Congress to take a look at that question.
It also should spur all concerned to eliminate obstacles in the way of developing, producing and distributing a vaccine against COVID-19.
It needs to be remembered, after all, that neither viruses nor bacteria have any respect at all for a bureaucracy.
DeWine should have held firm on mask mandate; now it’s up to us
The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 29
Ohioans are being asked to do the hardest thing since the first cases of novel coronavirus were reported in the state: re-engage with people with the threat of getting sick or worse. Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled his plan on Monday for how to carefully reopen the state’s economy starting on Friday. It is a measured and reasonable approach that gets some people back to work and tries to protect residents as much as possible.
Businesses will open in phases, starting on Friday with medical and health care providers, followed by manufacturing, distribution, construction and office work on Monday, and then retail on May 12. Dine-in restaurants, bars, daycares, barbershops and salons will remain closed for the foreseeable future. And the ban on large gatherings or events remains in effect.
Some operators and GOP lawmakers have complained about the unfairness of the governor’s staggered approach in allowing businesses to open, arguing all businesses should open at the same time. But the gradual roll out is prudent and gives the state time to monitor whether the reopening results in any sudden flare ups in COVID-19 cases. It also helps that the openings for businesses in phase one are separated by a matter of days not weeks.
DeWine’s plan also lays out strict cleaning and hygiene guidelines for each business, such as:
All employees must wear masks.
Daily self-evaluations of employees’ health.
Reducing occupancy to 50% of the fire marshal’s limit.
Regular cleaning of surfaces.
Maintaining at least six feet between workers.
DeWine had originally ordered that customers, too, had to wear masks when patronizing a business, but backed off that requirement Tuesday after hearing from some constituents who found the mandate “offensive.” In changing it to a recommendation, the governor is placing his trust in Ohioans to keep doing the right thing.
It shouldn’t take a government mandate for us to do the right thing and protect one another. So even though DeWine should have stood firm, his message has not changed. If you go out, wear a mask. Protect yourself and others. And for those who say government has overstepped, your friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow consumers are trusting you to do the right thing. Here’s your opportunity.
More: Poll: If businesses require you to wear a face mask, are you more or less likely to enter?
Plans to ramp up COVID-19 testing to more than 22,000 tests per day by the end of May are imperative and encouraging, as is the plan to have 1,750 trained workers by June 1 conducting contact tracing of positive cases of the virus. DeWine has to keep the pressure on the federal government to provide more assistance in delivering personal protective equipment to our hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. Ohio must be prepared to protect our medical professionals and first responders in the event reopening businesses sparks a second wave of infections.
While a few more weeks of Ohio trending down in the number of cases would have been ideal, DeWine can be commended for piecing together a competent compromise. He has let science and data guide him and has listened to a wide array of opinions from health experts to business professionals to everyday citizens. There will be critics who say DeWine shouldn’t have opened nonessential businesses at all, and those who say he didn’t open enough. But the governor said he believes he’s found the “sweet spot.”
“The spot most likely to cause less damage. The spot most likely to do good,” he said.
DeWine is right that no matter what decision he made there was going to be risk. There is risk in doing nothing. There is still risk even if Ohio does this reopening right. It is indeed a scary process, especially for members of more vulnerable populations.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said on Monday that we’ve learned a lot about the coronavirus since March. But Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton also reminded us that there is still much that we do not know about the virus. It remains highly contagious, potentially deadly, and perhaps most sobering, will likely be with us for some time to come.
DeWine should keep pushing ahead and be more aggressive if infection rates hold steady or decline. He is trusting each of us to use common sense and make rational decisions as we reconnect. Let’s not make him regret that choice.