The plan to fight the virus that we didn’t hear

Quarantine center. [Photo from Bloomberg]


By Joe America

One of the great disappointments of the SONA for many people was the absence of a clear plan from President Duterte for getting the coronavirus out of the country. His plan was essentially to wait for a vaccine and beg China for ‘first dibs’.

Well, the problem is not easy, is it? The virus is well entrenched and testing is spotty. Hospitals are filling fast and critical care facilities are limited. The economy is on the ropes. It’s starting to hit banks.

What’s a President to do?

Here’s the plan that I think was missing.

“The coronavirus is a huge burden on the nation and us as individuals. We have to do better than we’ve been doing, especially in testing. Our committee approach has not worked and Secretary Duque has not met his testing targets. I’ve asked him to step aside into an advisory capacity.

There are signs of corruption in Phil Health and elsewhere. That’s an insult to the honor of Filipinos. We’re in a health crisis here.

Here’s what we will do.

  1. Our first step is to reorganize the approach and put it under the direction of one person, in crisis mode. I am immediately appointing (name) to head the effort. IATF, DOH, and other government agencies will take direction from him/her. He/she starts tomorrow.
  2. We will root out corruption with a vengeance. We cannot have scoundrels profiting on other peoples’ suffering. We will seek the most severe punishments available under law. Secretary Guevarra will have this as his most important, immediate assignment.
  3. We will have three quarantine designations for each barangay in the nation: (1) lockdown, (2) controlled quarantine, and (3) preventative quarantine.
    1. Lockdown means people must stay in their homes until the virus is contained locally. Businesses within the Barangay will be closed. When we have lockdown, the State and LGU will provide food and care for residents. All residents will be tested. Infected people will be transported to quarantine centers or hospitals for the best medical care we can provide.
    2. Controlled quarantine means designated residents may go out and important businesses may open under strict conditions. We need to make sure there are no flare-ups. The State and LGUs will organize testing. It will be rigorous, searching for hotspots.
    3. Preventative quarantine means residents are to remain at home, avoid gatherings, and shop only for necessities. Designated businesses may open under controlled conditions. The State and LGUs will organize random testing to identify possible areas of contagion.
  4. We are trying to do too much of the test confirmation centrally. We will therefore establish three additional confirmation centers in Subic, Cebu, and Davao, and spare no expense to get it done. We will seek assistance from other nations if we don’t have the needed equipment and skills here.
  5. Tracing will be assigned to LGUs. Centrally, we will make available computer systems to assist, but the primary burden will be local, using call centers and on-street outreach. We must significantly upgrade our hunt for possible infections.
  6. We will also spare no expense to expand our critical care, isolation, and quarantine capacity. Every sick Filipino needs to know we care. We will seek assistance from foreign governments in this regard.
  7. Enforcing quarantine rules is the responsibility of the Philippine National Police. There will be no further arrests for rule-breaking. There will be substantial fines. We don’t need people collecting in our jails. But we do need enforcement. We ask citizens to help. To do their best.
  8. The role of the Armed Forces will shift from enforcement to aid. We need to get food and other care to locked down areas. The AFP will assist. They will also help with transport of the sick to care facilities. Our sick do not need to be suffering while waiting for a ride. AFP people will supplement our hospital and quarantine staff if needed.

Those are the basic changes I can tell you about now. Other programs will be announced as they are rolled out.

You will be given progress reports weekly by myself or the person designated to head the effort. We must win this battle, and you deserve to know how we are winning it.”


53 Responses to “The plan to fight the virus that we didn’t hear”
  1. Excellent. I would add threshold values for an area to go on lockdown. Germany takes 50 daily new infections per 100 thousand inhabitants as the “red” value and 30 / 100K daily new infections as the “yellow” threshold.

    Contact tracing is local here also but there are mobile teams that can be dispatched to help in areas with local flare-ups.

    Mobilizing the AFP for logistics is the best idea as they have the manpower and equipment including transport planes. Sick people in areas with insufficient medical facilities may have to be flown out, supplies flown in where lacking. BTW VP Leni has had the Coast Guard helping deliver PPEs to remote places like Sulu, their asset being helicopters and speedboats.

  2. NHerrera says:


    I reviewed the Philippine COV spread [ref, worldometer] and this much is obvious: a rapid spread followed by a plateau for — so far — three such cycles, with the following approximate 7-day moving average of daily cases for the three cycles: 250, 600,1900. There is a corresponding cycle of deaths. There is a surprising low Case Fatality Rate of only 2.3%, which CFR may tend higher because of COV deaths lagging the cases by approximately two to three weeks. That or some deaths may not have been reported as due to COV.

    I fervently hope the rapid growth then plateau (and possible decline) stops at the third cycle.

  3. pablonasid says:

    And while you’re dreaming, the country is sliding at ever increasing speed into the abyss, pushed down by a democratically elected president and supported by a duly elected Senate. Sorry, but is it time to reconsider?

    • Dreaming? The point is, it should have been easy to articulate a plan.

      The reconsideration date is the next election.

      • pablonasid says:

        That’s exactly my point. 80 o/o of the rules required to stop the virus are very simple. BUT… It is not implemented. Why not? They are not stupid, there is a reason behind this apparent stumbling. Suggesting solutions? Dream on. And that is not meant sarcastically, it is a wake-up call.

        • I find it interesting that VP Robredo did the same thing I did in this blog, with the kind of publicity and power needed to make the approach powerful. There are solutions. There is hope. We don’t have to take gameplaying or incompetence as the only way. You consider that dreaming? I think it’s uplifting. People welcome it.

          • kasambahay says:

            I like dreaming, that’s how we get the germ of an idea. big things come from little things. it’s when people stop dreaming that we have to be concerned about.

            congrats, joeam, to me, your reasoning is sound kaayo. if only we have more people like you, freely sharing ideas and open for discourse. steady as we go, slow maybe but safe.

            there are a number of people in our country that really know what to do as regards covid, but are dismissed and put in the back burner. they being of wrong political affiliation and of wrong names too and barely prone to compromise.

            magkaisa kuno, bayanihan as one, meaning perhaps we all have to think alike, behave alike, dream alike and vote alike. too collegiate and rarely anything gets done. so long as colleagues are happy and content and paid well, damn the rest.

            • kasambahay says:

              duterte’s big dream? that china will prioritize philippines and give our country the vaccine. and what did duterte trade for this ‘give’? more of our lands p’haps, more of our natural resources too and more of our sovereign rights for maybe a few batches of questionable chinese vaccines not yet proven to be therapeutic.

              sabi ni duterte by september 2020 kuno. we’ll see then how bad or good a dreamer he is.

              • madlanglupa says:

                It is one thing we take the word of the world’s institutions talking much about the efficacy of Sinovac’s work, it’s a different matter entirely once the vaccine is used as a powerful political bargaining tool.

            • Thanks, k. Indeed, that’s what is so offensive in efforts to stop speech that is critical of government. It stops us from dreaming.

              • kasambahay says:

                ah, the walking nightmare. biro mo, it was suggested to use gasoline to disinfect face masks! people would believe it too, had it been demonstrated by his close allies: the high ranking public servants; his appointees, senators who are in support of him, bong go, bato et al, the congressmen and women who do his bidding, they ought to back him up now and disinfect their own face masks in gasoline, and then use said face masks for us all to see. give demo! show how it is done! lol! to see is to believe.

                sus, ginoo, baka the suggested disinfection is the only way, the missing link, to bring down the rise and rise and further rise of covid infection. contract tracing kasi is not working, lock downs not working too. so maybe, duterte’s die hard supporters ought to mobilize now and do as duterte suggested and disinfect their own face masks the way duterte suggested. see if they can bring down infection.

                those like me, not fan of duterte need not follow suit. I cannot afford to buy gasoline. I’ll wash my face mask in soap and water and then hung outside in the sun to dry.

              • kasambahay says:

                another thing: duterte is going nuclear and going to develop o build build build nuclear facility. I think, not for us but for china. china’s de facto nuclear reactor build on philipppines soil on the previous failed nuclear site. china already got our eez, now china is going mainland philippines and building nuclear reactor; one of many, and with duterte’s blessing. sarap ang buhay ng ni xi.

                in exchange for chinese vaccines, china will build build build nuclear reactor/s in our country. more nuclear arms for china’s military, is what I think.

              • That’s interesting. The China connection. Makes sense. We can name the reactor Three Gorges.

              • kasambahay says:

                he’s afraid to go to war and will do anything communist china ask him.

                he’s undecided about covid roadmap kaya china is making it for him and that would include the nuclear reactors. 3 sites have already been looked at, near bodies of water they were, one is near a lake. and stupidly enough, the displaced people who used to live near the said lake are reluctant to go back without his approval. so obedient. for once in their lives these people ought to show guts and just go back, else china will build nuclear reactor there.

                he need vaccines kuno bago roadmap, little did he know vaccines are already part of the roadmap. kampai!

  4. I think here in California, testing is better than most states; and especially LA county , i’m sure.

    But here’s some sobering news from friends / family and colleagues,

    you have to get an appointment to go thru drive thru testing, I don’t know of any walk-on testing here. So I know of 10 cases now, where people line up for test (yup those long car lines) , having already made their appointment, and for whatever reason (gotta pee/ line too long/ etc. ) they leave the line, never gotten the test.

    And a few days later they get a letter from the testing agency (different ones, no one agency in particular) saying they are COVID19 positive!!!

    They were never swabbed!!!!

    As for surge here, still none like NYC where you have people piling up. LA city is hardest hit, while the rest of county (that’s Los Angeles county) are actually reminding people that the ER is still open for other medical emergencies (because people are staying away). But even LA city (and i’m speaking only of one hospital chain here, thats Kaiser Permanente ) they are able to cycle thru beds, so not piling up at all.

    I dunno about county hospitals (gov’t hospitals), but Kaiser is a pretty big outfit, so if there was a huge up tick you’d see it at Kaiser , but so far steady as she goes.

    As for NH’s and karl’s underestimate vs. overestimation, Winter 2019-2020 that’s right before COVID19 in February and March, we had a pretty big Flu season as far as tallying goes, but as soon as COVID19 hit, no more big Flu season. My guess has to be that Flu deaths have been lumped with COVID19 deaths.

    As for “cause of death”, the virus can kill you but so too your own body’s reaction to said virus, in essence your body overshoots and kills you (along w/ the virus!) . That’s like saying he died because his index finger was shot; where was his index finger when it got shot, on his head!!! LOL!

    So over here we get mixed messaging, on one hand people should shelter in place stay at home orders; but on the other hand media here is also fomenting protests (thus riots too); then saying protests don’t cause virus to spread but being in bars and restaurants do.

    It has to get worst in the U.S. , because not only the politicians but the media intends for it to get worst!!! I’m holed up here playing Go trying to get to SDK, that’s single digit kyu levels!!!

    NH, I intend to buy this whole series (direct from Kiseido dot com), but with this one book on Tesuji, I’m already getting pretty good, NH! Get this book.

    • NHerrera says:

      In Go Speak:

      You “trying to get to SDK” means you are in the neighborhood of 10k in Go. Congratulations, Lance.

      [On the next Fed Aid being worked on between WH, GOP, Dem: Pelosi has “sente;” McConnell is in “gote.”]

      • NHerrera says:

        On your note,

        It has to get worst in the U.S. , because not only the politicians but the media intends for it to get worst!!!

        it is par for the course [T is not known to be cheating at Golf, is he?], seeing that the Administration from the President and his cohorts in the House and Senate and Fox News are at their worst, especially in the handling of life-saving use of mask at the very least. Constitutional Rights, my foot — tell that to my Marine friend, Lance.

        • Yup, I still do my groceries as soon as market opens, early in the morning meaning less people. I double mask, because I intend to survive and get 8 or 6 Kyu in Go—- this game just gets deeper and deeper, NH.

          As for folks not wearing masks and CNN encouraging people to go to BLM protests saying its safe from COVID19, i’d rather just re-watch this clip over and over, LOL! that’s Don Lemon and Terry Crews.

          • p.s. I’m still in the 20s kyu really, NH. But that’s my post pandemic plan is to get to SD Kyus! So i have no time for COVID19. LOL!

          • isk says:

            Quite interesting discussion, thanks Lance.

            Here’s a video clip of the congressional hearing from C Span


            May be out of topic, please delete if found irrelevant.

            • isk,

              There’s really just two types of Federal law enforcement:

              1). Investigative

              2). Site protection (I include Federal prison guards as site protection really)


              Thus have no business doing crowd control. They can however (and should) do site protection, protect Federal sites.


              Local law enforcement , generally police and Sheriffs, are better able to do crowd control. But looking at crowd control tactics recently tells me they’ve bought hook line and sinker Israeli type crowd control. No bueno. Americans don’t like this.


              IF local law enforcement need help they should first get said help from state agencies (for example there’s the CHP in California, and the Lottery police, no other state law enforcement that I know of aside from those two, so makes sense to tap the Nat’l Guard who answers to the Governor).


              Federal power must be the last resort. State rights vs. Federal power and all.


              Barr and Trump don’t understand this. Also that stuff in Seattle and Portland isn’t really about BLM, they up there just like to riot– that too has more to do with states rights vs. federal power, going back to pioneer times… not unlike the North and South issues that eventually led to the Civil War. less Federal rule is best.


              No media has talked about how quiet South Central LA is in all this #BLM stuff, and mostly due to the black community’s new relationship with LAPD, because now it is about blacks vs. Mexicans, not blacks vs. LAPD. Devil we know vs. the Devil that’s growing, different type of racism from Mexicans.


              I would argue that’s the new front for black America, they are being marginalized not by Whites but by Hispanics (only Mexican mostly in Socal). So with Hispanics going up I’m sure when this year’s census is counted, the blacks really will need to address this issue fully.

              And South Central LA will yield some answers. Ironically, its the street gangsters now having a working relationship with police, that’s the big change since the 90s. Communication.

              • isk says:

                no business doing crowd control. They can however (and should) do site protection, protect Federal sites.– Lance

                I thought Mr. Barr had indicated the role of feds, civil disturbance vs violent crimes@ 6:40

              • Yeah, re violent crimes Federal law enforcement does that with investigations and collaboration with local law enforcement… nothing new there really. The only thing that’s new is the fact that Federal law enforcement is now delving into crowd control, and seemingly on its own.

                The FBI has long ago learnt that if they side track locals, they end up having to work unnecessarily more.

      • NH,

        Have you seen this documentary yet?

        • NHerrera says:

          Lance, I suggest we end this exchange about the board game of Go before our Editor boots us out of the blog. 🙂

          • Having gotten into Go more (COVID19 lock down) I really think everyone should get into this— its a fine way to divert ones worries and thoughts.

            I also especially think Joe jr. would enjoy this game, and other kids in the Philippines already familiar with say,

            Like when I saw sungka being played just by simply digging holes on the ground.

            Go I think can be played with bottle caps, etc. over there. And grid lines just drawn on. But its the game’s richness in metaphor I think is the most fruitful. I mean, I think in terms of Go now when reading the news and foreign affairs.

            Trump vs. #BLM, statue tumbling, again in terms of Go. All other stuff.

            Here’s a very recent video for Joe and Joe jr. from a dude in the UK that reviews board games:

  5. pablonasid says:

    And how about this? Just get the Chinese vaccins for a few billion, cream off the required top and charge the country at the ‘normal terms’ (= not ‘cheap’ interest rates…) and when the repayments exceed the country’s capability, you can always reduce the debts by giving away islands or harbours or airlines or whatever infrastructure that generous country demands. Think long-term.

    • kasambahay says:

      yay, my wonky brain says communist china is thinking long term nuon pa, being super super power and utter world domination its aim. and philippines can only comply, china’s forever devoted slave uber fearful of going to war with china. his failure to stand his ground, emboldened china anew. and suddenly, forever devoted slave is talking nuclear. I can see where he’s going and it’s not good for us filipinos.

  6. pablonasid says:

    When we discuss what should be done and what CAN be done under current situation, attached interview is probably the best guideline what actually CAN be done in Philippines. Philippines is a pragmatic place where Barangay health monitoring has been very successful. Because it is community based. People understand barangay action, their trust in government action is low
    Lacking effective government action, the barangay structure could be used to the benefit of the community. I know it does not provide a solution for the country, but hey, it takes care of Number-1 (and your precious numbers 2, 3, 4,….). I won’t elaborate with individual actions for the barangays, it should be OUR action in the barangay to promote and implement the ideas. They are simple, you do not have to emigrate to New Zealand or Norway.

  7. Micha says:

    6. We will also spare no expense to expand our critical care, isolation, and quarantine capacity. Every sick Filipino needs to know we care. We will seek assistance from foreign governments in this regard.

    What kind of assistance and from which foreign governments do you have in mind Joe?

    • Anywhere but China. I was thinking of ventilators and ICU care with gear from modern states.

      • billinoz says:

        Covid 19 disease is fundamentally a disease that prevents oxygen from being absorbed by the blood cells. It is not a ling disease.That’s why so many people on ventilators die. Extra oxygen is pumped into the lungs but it still cannot be absorbed by the blood.

        By the way there is a commonly available chemical called Ivermectin which is very effective against COVID 19.It is used here in Oz for parasite diseases both internal ( via the mouth ) & externally via drench. It’s not under patent so it’s cheap. It is the ‘drug’ of choice in Bangladesh and doctors in the USA (Florida ) have devised protocols for using it for Covid patients. .

        Good luck to all in the Philippines. Parts of Oz are clear now but Melbourne has seen a major resurgence of infections & deaths.

        • mel says:

          El cheapo meds over the counter INVERMECTIN OR cocktail hydoCHLOROquin..with zinc n ritrimicyn are not big pharma faves. many annecdotal use of said meds were successful if given early on or as a preventive. as the da tramp said what has got one to lose (only your life says the media). many silenced doctors have used it and have good success, studies has also been done and proved it helps but media and antitrumpets say it is not a scientific test and is false. this meds are cheap and using it with medical supervision will perhaps minimize covid spread. Drs said 3 per wk of cocktail hcq plus z n r will be good preventive. if this is true and people take it…good bandaid measure while waiting for the vaccine.

          • Fine print: readers may from time to time share ideas on medical treatments. This blog does not endorse any medical treatments and encourages readers to seek guidance from a doctor for any remedies being considered.

  8. kasambahay says:

    ay, joeam, the president already said he will have the vaccines no matter the cost and by next month, september, chinese vaccines should be available and by december, we should have semblance of normal. palace said we are on track.

    so why are our doctors and nurses asking for timeout, overworked and underpaid, and some of them are dying due to covid? no good answer, so back to modified enhanced community quarantine uli in apparent mission to slow down the rate of infection. less infected people, less acute patients in hospitals in dire need of beds and medical help, less burnouts of health care workers.

    overworked health care workers often make mistakes like miscalculating dosages of medicines and giving medicines to the wrong person; those suffering burnouts make errors of judgement like making wrong diagnosis and inadvertently, patients die on their watch. soul destroying yan, the lives they should have save, but could not.

    and calling families about the death of their loves ones is even more devastating, covid patients or not. give doctors and nurses enough rest period. dont overwork them. and dont demean them by calling them revolutionaries just because they ask for time out.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Uunahin ba tayo ng China o ng Russia?

      Do not demean the government lang ang nakuha ng mga luoaypay na healh workers kay Duterte.

      • kasambahay says:

        by next month, sa setyembre, we will know kung uunahin tayo, how fruitful the vacinne promise has been, o how demeaning to the people duterte has been.

        anyhow, health care workers could not have been demeaning. it was not them that suggested stopping the spread of covid by disinfecting both hands and face masks with gasoline. not them too that have no covid roadmap. and if govt is being demeaned, it can only be inflected by those at the topmost.

  9. kasambahay says:

    health sec duque kuno is not at fault, he did not import covid. it was exported by china, the 1st covid death reported outside of china was in our country yata. 1st casualty was chinese man from mainland china; a tourist, and the rest is history.

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