The Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) + the cases statistics out of China (also announced by WHO) give us two bits of hope:

  1. China is slowly beating the virus. It’s ponderous work, but the number of new cases per day from last week (~3k) to this week (~300) shows that they’re on the right track. I’ve been as skeptical as anyone when it comes to the data from China, but WHO itself is saying that the case reduction is real.
  2. China is achieving this through brute force. They are testing like crazy (1.6 million test kits produced per week now) and quarantining anyone necessary. They have 1800 teams (of 5) going throughout the country. They visit with an infected person, get all contact info for the last week or so, and visit and test those people as well and quarantine on any positive test (and repeat the process as necessary). This is obviously requiring an extraordinary amount of work, but it proves that it can be done and it does work.

For those countries without the medical resources, political will, and/or cultural attitude to implement this, things are going very poorly. (See Iran and Italy.)

It’s an enormous lift and given where we are in the outbreak things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. But the US can get this right. We’ll see if we do.