I have been debating whether I should continue writing about what is already on all of our minds, or if I should focus my attention on positivity and humor. The latter is hugely important at a time like this, which is why I have been trying to intersperse my thoughts, both here and on Twitter, with things like funny videos, dance music, and architecture.
But the reality is that none of us know how this is all going to play out. As I mentioned yesterday, very few of us have a mental model for this kind of macro event. So it’s important for all of us to continue learning. Is our country taking the right approach? Are we doing enough? How long are we going to have to live like this and what does that mean for the global economy?
The Financial Times published an invaluable story earlier this week about a small town outside of Venice called, Vò. With only 3,300 people, the town was supposedly able to test and retest all of its residents while the rest of northern Italy was growing as an epicenter for the Wuhan virus.
In late February, they completed their first round of testing and found that about 3% of the town had been infected. But it’s important to note that about 50% of those that were infected were completely asymptomatic! However, because everyone was tested, the asymptomatic people got immediately quarantined.
The town did a second round of testing about 10 days later and that point the infection rate had dropped to about 0.3%. Of course, if all those asymptomatic people had been out and about in the town of Vò, this would not have been the case. There now appears to be no new cases in Vò.
It is for this reason that the WHO is urging diligent and repeated testing. But that obviously needs to be done in a sensible way. Having people line up — together — for hours upon hours is an obvious problem. Most people are not getting tested.
Earlier this morning, San Francisco-based Nurx announced a home testing kit for the Wuhan virus. Supposedly it is the first of its kind in the US. (It’s not yet available in Canada — I asked). I don’t know how available it is to Americans or how accurate it is, yet, but I do know that something like this needs to become widespread.