HOTWASH: a must-see interview

On February 21, CBS News Face the Nation featured an extended interview with Matthew Pottinger. Pottinger talked about the COVID-19 pandemic from his perspective as the Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration.

Of all the interviews I have watched, listened to and read during the past year about the pandemic, this is by far the most informative. Kudos to the host, Margaret Brennan, for a superb job drilling down on how the pandemic began, China’s role in turning a local outbreak into a global disaster, and what went wrong here in the US.

Matthew Pottinger spent seven years (1998-2005) in China as a journalist for Reuters and then the Wall Street Journal. From 2005-2010, he served as a Marine Corps intelligence officer with one combat tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. In 2017, he became the Asia Director on the National Security Council staff in the White House, and in September 2019 became the Deputy National Security Advisor. He resigned from this position on the evening of January 6, 2021 following the assault on the Capitol. 

Face the Nation, February 21, 2021 (my apologies for the 30-second commercial at the beginning)

Tracking SARS-CoV-2 Variants: Why It Is Important

We highly recommend this short, but important article by two immunologists from Johns Hopkins University on the importance of tracking the evolutionary changes to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On a military battlefield, we call this “situational awareness”. In this war between the human race and COVID-19, situational awareness is equally important–actually, essential to our success in defeating this pandemic.

Read the article

A short story for the Biden Administration’s pandemic response leadership team

In February 2002 I was invited by one of my interns from Stanford University to a small dinner party of Stanford alum.  What I didn’t realize was that the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice was also coming to dinner.  

There were many questions that night for Condi, but there was one question and answer I will never forget.

“What was your most emotional experience from 9/11?” 

“It actually happened several days after 9/11 at the National Cathedral.  As I walked into the cathedral for the memorial ceremony, I still remember the feelings in my heart: sadness for families who had lost loved ones, fear for what tomorrow might bring, and doubt about my ability to serve the President at this time of national crisis.  I don’t remember much about the ceremony that day, but I do remember the ending. We all stood and sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  As we sang, you could feel the entire mood change within the cathedral.  When I walked out, I left my sadness, fear, and doubt behind. I walked out with a mission…a mission to make America safe and secure.”

The Incredible Story About the mRNA Vaccines

Everyday, Americans are lining up to get the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. They will be a game changer in this good war against the COVID-19 pandemic. The story about mRNA vaccine development–that includes everything from Dolly Parton and mouse cells glowing green to leading-edge science and technology–reads like a sci-fi novel that also has an element from an old country western song about only taking 15 years to become an overnight success. Someday, Hollywood will make a movie about this story, but for now, this superb article by David Heath and Gus Garcia-Roberts is a must read.

I dedicate this post to my wife, Tonya, who spent last summer out in the Texas heat as a volunteer at a COVID test site, and then served as a volunteer in the Moderna Phase III trial.

The inside story of the fastest vaccine ever developed

The Heroes of the Pandemic Response

When we began this blog in April, 2020 our mission was to provide informative articles for the general public about the COVID-19 pandemic–information of use to you and your family without political or media spin. Additionally, our mission was to tell the stories of the frontline public health, medical and scientific heroes in this war–a war between the human race and the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

As we approach the end of 2020 we want to salute the hundreds of thousands of frontline healthcare providers who have continued serving America–often without adequate supplies of equipment, medicines, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Their courage, dedication and professionalism deserve the same level of recognition as does the many generations of our frontline military warriors.

Last spring, we created this meme in their honor:

We also salute the frontline healthcare professionals who have lost their lives in this war against the SARS-Cov-2 virus. According to an ongoing study by Kaiser Health News and the Guardian,, more than 3,000 frontline healthcare professionals have died in the line of duty. This number has now exceeded America’s losses on 9/11.

And finally, we want salute the scientists who received the DNA code for the SARS-Cov-2 virus on January 11 and just 56 days later were beginning the first human testing of a vaccine candidate. Within 9 months a vaccine, actually two, were authorized by the FDA for wide spread use–vaccines that provide 94%+ protection. This was the equivalent of America’s moonshot–but this was accomplished in nine months rather than nine years. These vaccines are safe and effective. They will change the course of history.

To better understand this extraordinary scientific achievement, listen to this audio clip from This American Life

Don’t waste your time wiping down surfaces

Remember last spring when people were wiping down everything from door knobs, kitchen counters, home-delivered groceries and even mail with Clorox wipes? This wasn’t necessarily bad advice, there was just a lot to learn about this novel virus. It was a reasonable assumption at the time. We know that seasonal flu can often be transmitted via door knobs and other common surfaces.

However, many studies have now concluded that the chance of getting a COVID-19 infection from surface contamination–including well-controlled studies of COVID-19 wards in hospitals–is quite small. The best way to protect your family is social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask when in public.

For more information on these new studies, listen to this 3-minute audio clip from NPR.

A Good War Needs You

We created A Good War to help inform you and your family during the epic battle against COVID-19. America’s top public health leaders will be among the contributors, along with heroes working on the frontlines.

I am Randy Larsen. For the past 25 years, I have held various executive positions, inside and outside of government, working with my fellow public health warriors to try and convince America’s leaders that public health preparedness is a critical element of national security.

I have been working with Jay Lavender since 2008. Jay is a writer and producer with a great passion for protecting America’s national security. For the past dozen years, we have been telling stories in film and print celebrating unsung heroes.

Jay and I are honored to be working with a world-class team to edit this site and produce the podcast, A Good War. Our mission is to help tell the inspiring stories of public health heroes—past and present—in the battles between the human race and infectious diseases.

Please reach out with ideas for posts or questions and share with everyone who wants to help play their part.

Thank you for spending your valuable time with us. We need each of you to help Win A Good War.

A covid-fighting tool is buried in your phone. Turn it on!


“About 100 million Americans now have the ability to get pop-up notifications from local health authorities when they’ve personally spent time near someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus.”

Depending on where you live, you might be able to get notification if you have been exposed to someone at work, school or another public area–by an app on your smart phone. The information is anonymous–no one is tracking your location, unlike many other apps you may be using for social media. This app isn’t perfect, but could be of great help slowing the spread of COVID, particularly when more than 40% of people spreading the disease do so when not showing any symptoms.

“Exposure alerts worked for the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam. He and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus in September, and because they had it working on their phones, staff members exposed to them got notified. And they’re picking up steam: In its first few weeks, Colorado’s system was activated by a million residents, or 17 percent of its population.”

States currently using the system:

And these states have either announced their intent to launch services or are running limited tests:

Nations around the world are also using similar Bluetooth technology for notifications, including Switzerland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

For more information, read this article: