It’s not complacency: It’s a virus
Let’s call it the “Job syndrome”. Recall the biblical story in the Old Testament about a righteous man named Job. He had calamity visit in the form of boils, loss of fortune and the death of his entire family. In addition to his personal catastrophe, he had to endure condemnations from his visiting self-righteous neighbors and "friends" who offered that he must have committed some terrible wrong. Many people who have been infected with COVID-19 are experiencing a similar targeted shame campaign, and it needs to stop.
Recent alarms have been raised by newspaper headlines and public health officials that Oregonians are becoming complacent and the number of cases is surging. “Keep Your Guard and Mask Up” read a recent headline. Public health officials opine that people are being more reckless after 6 months of lockdowns by traveling, gathering with others and not wearing masks. It is true that we are seeing more local cases of COVID-19, but it is not necessarily the victim’s fault.
To date, Evergreen Family Medicine has contributed to the care of 80% of the people admitted to our local hospital with COVID-19. Fortunately, all the patients discharged from the hospital have survived so far, despite their advanced ages and comorbid conditions. We hope that those who remain will recover as well. I have asked our hospitalized citizens about their potential exposures and personal efforts to mitigate the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. All of them were confused because they reported limiting their social activities and they always wore a mask in public (sometimes in their own car). Many of them were feeling guilty. They felt that people were holding them in low regard for contracting or exposing others to the virus. This is so cruel since it wasn’t their fault that they were infected. This is what highly contagious viruses do during pandemics.
The CDC published that Covid-19 was transmitted via aerosol on 9/18/20 but then retracted the information on 9/21/20. The CDC said that a draft version of proposed changes had been posted in error but then, they reaffirmed aerosolized spread again on 10/5/2020. Joseph Allen from Harvard’s school of public health and Linsey Marr from Virginia Tech’s engineering department wrote, “many scientists have known that airborne transmission of the virus was happening since February. The CDC somehow failed to recognize the accumulating evidence that airborne transmission is important and therefore failed to alert the public . . .”. Science advisor Paul Alexander, who tried to edit and delay CDC public health reports, has recently left the agency (source BMJ:”CDC publishes then withdraws information on aerosol transmission”).
All the current efforts to mask and lockdown the public will not stop an aerosolized virus. We can mitigate its transmission to a degree, but we cannot eliminate the virus in this fashion. It is wrong to blame the public for an uptick of cases due to complacency. COVID-19 is endemic (embedded) in our population and likely will be so indefinitely – vaccine or not. We do not need to sow more division in Douglas County by assigning blame. Our citizens have already sacrificed greatly to “flatten the curve”. Do not add insult to injury by condemning them for being infected with a virus that will continue to spread through the population until adequate immunity exists. Fortunately, more serological studies are confirming a low infection mortality rate in those less than 70 years of age (0.1%), and for children, it has been shown to be at least 5 times less deadly than influenza.
John Powell M.D.
I have included the following COVID information that you likely haven’t read in the mainstream media.
Sweden’s targeted immunity strategy has worked well. “Herd” or community immunity is not a strategy; it is a solution. Sweden has averaged less than 1 to 2 deaths per day in a country of over 10 million for over 6 weeks now. They have over 1.8 million children under the age of 14 who attended school without interruption and without masks. To date, I am unaware of any deaths in children attributed to exposure to COVID while at school – in Sweden or the rest of Europe. There was no report of increased risk of viral transmission to their teachers either. Sweden did not close their economy down, and their number of deaths per capita is less than 13 other countries including the U.S., U.K., Spain, Belgium and Italy. They have fewer deaths per capita than 17 states in the U.S. including less than ½ of the number of deaths per capita from the virus as compared to the 7 most impacted states in the U.S. (Source: Worldometer Covid-19)
An Article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Humoral Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 in Iceland reported an infection fatality risk for those 70 years old or younger as 0.1% as determined by serology testing. Infection lethality risk and age severity differentials of this virus should have been an important driver of public health policy.