The Pandemic Protocol (The New Yorker, 4 May 2020)

Ground Zero was Evergreen Health, a hospital in Kirkland, WA, just east of Seattle: Here was where the first diagnosis of corona virus in the United States was confirmed. That was back in January. Dr. Francis Riedo was the “medical director for infectious disease at Evergreen Health.”

  • “A national shortage of diagnostic kits for the new coronavirus meant that only people who had recently visited China were eligible for testing. Even as Evergreen Health’s beds began filling with cases of flu-like symptoms — including a patient from Life Care, a nursing home two miles away — the hospital’s doctors were unable to test them for the new disease, because none of these sufferers had been to China or been in contact with anyone who had.”

Testing finally began at the end of February, when “there had been only six detections of the corona virus in the U.S., and only one in Washington State.”

During the previous few weeks, “researchers, in quiet violation of CDC guidelines, had jury-rigged a corona virus test in their lab and had started using it on their samples. They had just found a positive hit: a high school student in a suburb twenty-eight miles from Seattle, with no recent history of foreign travel and no known interactions with anyone from China.”

Dr. Riedo sent two patient samples to the local department of health. “I was sure they’d be negative. “Riedo got a call from his friend at the public health lab. Both of the samples he had sent were positive. Riedo sent over swabs from nine other Evergreen Health patients. Eight were positive.” Riedo kept sending more samples, and “most of the patients tested positive.”

And so it began.

The article was written by Charles Duhigg.

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