Government should enlist private sector’s help in combating COVID-19

In the 1950s, Americans were terrified that at any moment the Soviet Union might launch a surprise nuclear attack and people demanded that Washington do something to protect them.  Lacking any viable solution, our leaders relied on the infamous Duck and Cover campaign in which a cartoon turtle named Burt glibly asserts that at the first sign of nuclear attack, school children should simply duck under their desks and cover their heads so that the blast’s thermonuclear radiation would pass them by.  People desperately wanted to believe and astonishingly, even though the decimation of Hiroshima was still alive in memory, most parents happily suspended disbelief and blindly went along.  Those however who dared question the government’s mandate were often met with ridicule and their opinions marginalized.  I doubt Washington acted with malice however; our leaders were faced with an increasingly restless and fearful population and they felt they had to do something to allay fears.  I believe it was out of compassion and self-preservation that they, like a stage magician, did their best to distract the public with the shiny bauble of Duck and Cover in hopes people wouldn’t discover that the emperor had no clothes.

Fast forward to 2020 where once again America finds itself in a difficult situation.  Could local government’s response to COVID-19 in reality be a new version of Duck and Cover and have we chosen simply not to see, hoping instead that the more we do – whether it actually impacts the virus or not – the safer we become?  A search of the medical literature suggests that local government’s actions in this crisis may not be as targeted nor as effective as we have been led to believe.  Unfortunately, a small group consisting of two mayors, a health department nurse, the local hospital, and the Madison County COVID-19 Task Force (none of whose meetings are subject to public review) are making decisions for all of us.  When legitimate questions are raised, it seems we are living through Duck and Cover all over again.  Authority bristles when questioned and claims that the mere act of disputing their chosen course “undermines public health efforts” and is “arrogant” and that people who disagree obviously “want people to die.”

I question whether those in authority – even those in public health – have personally done due diligence concerning this virus or are only repeating soundbites.  Do they understand how the PCR test for COVID actually works and its many limitations?  Have they taken time to learn what the test actually measures and how results should be interpreted?  If so, why do they continue to call every positive test a “new COVID case” when a positive PCR does not correlate either with active infection or the ability to pass the infection on to someone else?  Do they understand that all masks and face coverings are not created equal and that six feet is woefully inadequate to impact either a sneeze or a cough?  Do they know how small the virus is in comparison with the pores of a cloth mask?  How about the basic difference in droplets and aerosol contamination?  Instead of giving the appearance that we all are equally at risk, why don’t they attempt to reassure the irrationally fearful that 96% of fatalities had an average of 2.6 serious chronic medical problems and that those under age 35, even under 55, are extremely unlikely to suffer any untoward consequences whatsoever?  How do our local officials think this pandemic will end?  There are only three possibilities.  Either the virus will unexpectedly burn itself out and go away; we will develop a safe and effective vaccine (which will provide artificially-induced herd immunity); or enough people will asymptomatically catch and develop natural immunity that it will not have a sufficient host base from which to spread.  There are no other options.

The public is rapidly succumbing to COVID-19 fatigue.  Only a few weeks ago most people dutifully wore their masks in stores as ordered.  Now increasing numbers are simply refusing to comply and often those who do, either wear their mask under their nose, take it on and off, or touch it so often as to render it useless.  It is human nature that society will only put up with so much.  We need to find strategies that do the most good while remaining as minimally invasive into our daily lives as possible.  Mulder and Scully assured us that the truth is out there.  It will take active cooperation between government and the governed to find it.

We the people are ready, willing, and able.  Will local government finally accept the private sector’s help or will even this attempt at dialogue be met with insults and derision?

There are literally thousands of us out here willing to help.  Give us a call.

Dr. Jimmy Hoppers is the CEO of Physicians Quality Care. Contact him at pqc@physiciansqualitycare.com.

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