Lessons learned from the White House COVID outbreak…

Now that the dust has kinda settled from the White House COVID outbreak, it’s a good time to step back and take inventory of lessons learned.

For what they’re worth, here are my takeaways:

> Screening — via temperature checks & rapid tests — doesn’t protect against viral breaches.

There are 2 stark realities:

  1. The tests are blunt instruments that are highly susceptible to false negative results.
  2. It only takes 1 infected person (i.e. an “index case”) to start the viral chain reaction.

So, other defense mechanisms (e.g. keeping a safe distance — especially from unmasked strangers) are absolutely necessary.


> Applying a Grandma Homa adage: Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it initially seems.

On a practical level, the WH outbreak wasn’t all that bad.

From what I’ve heard or read, about 30 people ended up testing positive, but …

  • Nobody died (which is slightly better than the 99% overall survival rate)
  • Only 2 people were hospitalized (Trump & Christie)
  • Nobody is showing any after-effects now — especially a re-invigorated Trump who seems to have benefited from a couple of full night’s sleep.

As a doctor-friend of mine likes to say: “Getting infected isn’t a death sentence”.


> The key: Find it fast and hit it hard!

The biggest advantage that the White House guests had was that they had ready access to re-testing via methods more reliable than the rapid tests … and, Trump’s infection lit a fire under all attendees to get tested, pronto.

That’s probably the best example yet of self-identified contact tracing.

Everybody who got infected (whether at the event or elsewhere) “found it fast”.

And, at least in Trump’s case, they “hit it hard”.

For months, Trump had been headlining the importance — and speedy development — of effective therapeutics.

When talking vaccine development, he usually added “… and therapeutics”.

Little did he know that he’d become a poster-child for the cause.

Whether it was the Regeneron or the uber-steroids that he was dosed, it’s indisputable that the combo of therapeutics got him on his feet and back in action at record speed.

Bottom line: Find it fast and hit it hard!

My view: Fast & hard is a resolute principle whether the disease is COVID … or, from our family experience, breast cancer … or, any other life-threatening disease.


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