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May 03, 2020 | post-gazette.com

post-gazette.com

post-gazette.com

Dr. Jonas Salk tested his polio vaccine as a pilot study with almost 8,000 children in our local schools. Millions of children were vaccinated. Parents embraced vaccinations with open arms.

In those days, John Fine, our first governor to televise his inauguration, grew up knowing that Franklin D. Roosevelt was a victim of polio and cleared the path to eradicate polio.

Transparency for diagnostic testing is needed now just as it was for the Salk vaccine. Open testing is needed everywhere, including our institutions warehousing people with disabilities.

Morbidity contraction for people with disabilities living in large institutions is greater than those without disabilities. Nationally there are more than 60,000 people living in facilities housing over 300 people in each facility. They need to be protected, too.

Rutgers Biomedical is implementing COVID-19 saliva-based testing in their state-run residential facilities for over 7,000 adults, enabling universal testing in New Jersey.

The largest Texas institution, housing 700 people with disabilities, has a significant outbreak of COVID-19. Officials are reluctant to share information, citing medical confidentiality. We must end intentional opacity of empirical data from infections exacerbated in congregate-care facilities that are inherently antiquated and too large. Smaller settings intuitively reduce the risk of larger spread. States need to share trend data and metrics with heath science experts who are conducting testing and studies.

Just as strategic regional plans for openings are forged among governors, so should the calibrated size of future facilities for vulnerable populations and the staff who care for them. This should include strategies for staff retention and best practices.

If Salk contended with today’s privacy, he could have failed. Sharing information nationally will reduce accelerated infection within the institutions. Innovation always needs information. Imagine how fast a cure for polio would have been expedited if Salk had access to the internet.

ROBERT STACK
President and CEO
Community Options
South Side