A Country Doctor Reads: How South Korea Flattened the Curve – The New York Times

If Covid-19 were a vicious STD spread via toilet seats, you wouldn’t tell everyone to stay away from public places including their worksites for months while the economy contracts and evaporates until there were no more cases. You would just do CLEANING, WIDESPREAD TESTING and TRACE CONTACTS. That’s what South Korea did, AND IT WORKED —— @ACDocWrites on Twitter

As I watch the Covid-19 doomsday scenarios play out in the media, it becomes very clear that our strategy of shutting down life as we know it to stop this communicable disease makes relatively little sense if it is not done alongside aggressive standard epidemiologic practices.

To put it more bluntly: Mere isolation is just plain Medieval.

We know how to do this: We test asymptomatic people for HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, tuberculosis and many other communicable diseases and in most cases we also deploy public health staff to trace contacts that need testing and followup.

So, why were we in this country so paralyzed, why did we resort to economy-halting measures that will likely wipe out retirement savings, cause widespread layoffs and permanent unemployment, bankruptcies and evictions and general despair like that of the Great Depression?

Now, I’m just a Country Doctor, and I’m not particularly interested in the science of epidemiology, but reading in The New York Times about what South Korea did I am baffled: Why did we not try harder to get more people tested early on?

3 Responses to “A Country Doctor Reads: How South Korea Flattened the Curve – The New York Times”


  1. 1 Elizabeth Champeon March 24, 2020 at 8:56 am

    There are none so blind as those who cannot see. If a tree falls in the forest…there are so many proverbs related to ignoring things. Ignore it and maybe it will go away. Terribly unfortunate. Can’t let those numbers go up.

  2. 2 Laura B March 24, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    I see many such comments in the media, but I think the quote posted makes a false equivalence, because STIs are not spread the way that COVID-19 is. In the case of an STI, as described in the quote from ACDoc, the advice would be different: close the public toilets. Hold it until you get home! I think the main failing in the US case has and continues to be the lack of widespread testing, and we may never know all the details of why that didn’t happen and still isn’t happening. Without that, South Korea couldn’t have done what they did, and might have had to implement some of the secondary methods (including lockdown and the terrible economic damage that flows from it) that other countries are suffering.

  3. 3 Cathy March 25, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Because the President denied that it was a problem for the US and there was little to no pushback from the Republican party in power.


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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.

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