As Coronavirus Infections Rise, CDC Is Criticized
The World Health Organization has now declared that the fatality rate of the COVID-19 coronavirus is higher than the flu. After several missteps and the deaths of nine Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now saying that it will lift restrictions on testing and will fast-track people who fear they may have been exposed to the virus, according to The New York Times.
Here are three ways the CDC has drawn criticism for its handling of COVID-19 so far.
COVID-19 Testing Mishaps
The CDC's first attempt to screen for COVID-19 hit a snag when they "botched its first attempt to mass produce a diagnostic test kit, a discovery made only after officials had shipped hundreds of kits to state laboratories," as The New York Times reported.
The faulty tests took weeks to replace. Still, the replacements did not allow state and local laboratories to make a final diagnosis.
"The incompetence has really exceeded what anyone would expect with the C.D.C.," Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, said to The New York Times. "This is not a difficult problem to solve in the world of viruses."
"It's really, essentially, inexplicable why the CDC did not have well-performing test kits before now," Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, said to NPR. "But this delay has really been costly in terms of our ability to identify and control the disease."
The CDC's response is slightly shocking for an advanced nation, considering that South Korea tested 10,000 people on Friday alone and has established drive-thru COVID-19 screening locations, as Business Insider reported.
Narrow and Stringent Testing Criteria
The CDC is also taking flak for the narrow and stringent testing criteria it set-up, ensuring that very few Americans would actually be tested for COVID-19. As the New York Times pointed out, "the persistent drumbeat of positive test results has raised critical questions about the government's initial management of the outbreak.
Why weren't more Americans tested sooner? How many may be carrying the virus now?"
Until last week, the CDC only called for testing people who had recently traveled to China and come in contact with someone who had a diagnosed case of COVID-19. That strict criteria meant that a patient in California, who tested positive for the coronavirus, went untested for several days at two area hospitals, according to Business Insider.
Last week, the CDC changed the guideline to include people whose symptoms were so severe that they required hospitalization. However, it still did not offer tests for people who had traveled to Iran or Italy, both spots of severe outbreaks, as Business Insider reported.
The case in California was alarming since the patient did not travel to China nor did the patient have direct contact with someone known to have the virus. Furthermore, doctors had to plead with officials to test the patient and to persist in asking before the CDC went ahead and tested the patient, according to CNN.
Numbers Disappearing From CDC Website
A strange thing happened at the CDC site that reports on the total number of COVID-19 cases. The CDC had been reporting the number of people who had been tested. Then, on Monday, the numbers disappeared.
"All of a sudden those stats vanished," Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said as CNN reported. Pocan wrote a letter of complaint to the CDC Monday night.
"Inexplicably, today, the CDC's public webpage dedicated to COVID-19 data no longer displays how many persons have been tested for, or who have died from COVID-19. I would like to know why," Pocan wrote.
"Americans are dying. We deserve to know how many Americans have perished from COVID-19, and we deserve to know how many people have been tested for it," Pocan added in his letter.
A CDC spokeswoman told CNN that the numbers were taken down since many states are testing and reporting their own results. Yet, the spokeswoman added, "There's only 50 states. We can get this information relatively easily."
- Coronavirus Spreading in U.S. Could Cause 'Severe' Disruption to ... ›
- If You're Worried About the New Coronavirus, Here's How to Protect ... ›
- Coronavirus and the Terrifying Muzzling of Public Health Experts ... ›
- U.S. Suffered Almost 300,000 Excess Deaths During Coronavirus Pandemic, CDC Reports - EcoWatch ›
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.
- 10 Little-Known Shark Facts - EcoWatch ›
- 4 New Walking Shark Species Discovered - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark - EcoWatch ›
FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.
- Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? - EcoWatch ›
- Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High Despite Lockdowns, UN ... ›
- 1.8 Billion Tons More Greenhouse Gases Will Be Released, Thanks ... ›