Without living memory of an authentic pandemic, and in an atmosphere of increasingly bizarre hyper-partisan political extremism, those parroting Trump’s blind call to ‘open things by Easter’ have taken on a life of their own at, perhaps, a projected loss of life considered less valuable then being able to go out for a hamburger. That this has now even migrated to the TOI blogs and Jews leaves me even more depressed.
To histrionically argue over the need to ‘save civilization’ and the like by repeating current, in vogue and dearly misleading ‘conservative’ political memes applied incorrectly to a global pandemic takes neither ‘courage’ nor prescience.
It seems that an increasing number of individuals — from the Texas Lieutenant Governor to folks blogging and those commenting on TOI — are now concerned that we are about to shut western civilization and the economy down when, they claim without data, that mortality in COVID is limited to the elderly (meaning 65 and over) and groups with specific pre-existing medical conditions.
First of all, this claim is patently incorrect. Mortality rates do vary but, first and foremost, COVID is not at all limited ‘almost entirely to specific groups’ as we have increasingly seen larger numbers of younger, healthier people becoming both very ill and dying of COVID. Driven by the deliberate misrepresentation, younger people have been placing themselves, and others, at even greater risk for exposure. I’ve read about ‘coronavirus parties’ in Germany, I believe, which have already cost younger lives.
In addition to the remarkable lack of humanity this false argument tells us about the speakers, even were COVID – hypothetically – limited to ‘certain groups and illnesses, ‘are those of you who repeat these lines truly ready to sacrifice the very large numbers in those groups simply to have your pub open back up?
And what are those preexisting medical conditions which increase risk from exposure from COVID?
How many realize that an active cross section of these illnesses include cardiac (a very large category), diabetes (which includes a great many persons), about anything pulmonary (a massive category), autoimmune insufficiency (which include many forms of arthritis); selected areas of disability; those receiving treatment for about all cancers and, generally, individuals over 65. Age, of course, is not an illness. For the record, I’m firmly in at least two of these higher risk categories.
Have those blithely repeating this deliberate misinformation considered just how many people are in these categories? Do any of you know anybody who might be so impacted? Do those repeating this call to sacrifice fall into any of these categories yourselves? And if you personally don’t right now, odds are many will before too long. Far more demographics are needed before even making such claims…in addition to a basic sense of morality.
Those following the data would first recognize that mortality ranges are higher in regions where ‘conservative’ and/or autocratic politics dominate which have deliberately and uniquely delayed and/or misrepresented the intensity of the need until it was too late to ignore. Even then, ‘conservatives’ in the West as Johnson and Trump continue to interfere with the needed reality and resources.
As of March 14, South Korea had tested over a quarter of a million of it’s citizens and documented a mortality rate of only .9% as a result. This compares to Hubei with a mortality rate of 4.5% where initial warnings were aggressively suppressed. The strong inference here is that conservative and autocratic politics may correlate to far higher death rates then any ‘preexisting illness.’
Such suppression and minimization of COVID as the dangerous pandemic it was about to become was actively pursued in both the US and the UK. While Boris Johnson has at least been coming around slowly, Donald Trump continues to walk and talk as if living in a haze while playing ‘doctor’ with the health of America where infection and death rates are now just starting to spike. WHO has identified that the next epicenter of COVID will be the US. That is far more from bad hard Right politics than older or previously ill citizens.
The U.S., in comparison to South Korea, has hard to verify figures though one survey as of March 9 only documented around 4500 citizens nationally who’ve been tested. I believe those numbers have since gone up as I’ve elsewhere seen numbers of around 11,000 tested though, even if true, it still pales in comparison to South Korea and other nations.
And in the U.S., a notable percentage of those tested have yet to have their tests evaluated for lack of resources and the needed reagent in specific states. This means we likely have a number of citizens who are positive for COVID but still unaware and still moving about. Even though we may not currently have a ‘cure’ for the coronavirus, that we absolutely know how respond to better contain and manage it is clear but this data continues clearly ignored particularly in the United States.
The fact that real expertise and science have increasingly become hard Right targets and, in the U.S., ‘fringe #MAGA targets’ is a very sad and simultaneously threatening statement that risks a still larger surge in infection rates and death in the United States and elsewhere to include the UK. Hospitals, large and especially smaller, are not prepared and still do not have needed resources and materials. There is absolutely no excuse for this and more will die unnecessarily for Trump and the politics of the hard Right.
Another common element of this deadly conservative meme is an uptick in conversation about the degree to which economic loss can led to suicide and death. This has long been true and socioeconomic conditions are responsible for incredible misery, a reduced lifespan, increased disease and death. So I have to ask those repeating this latest aspect of the new conservative mantra if you only just now realized this fact? And, regardless, how many of you are ready to identify health care as a broad human right, the right to a true livable wage and base yearly income for all? Any takers?
Boris Johnson’s brief reference to building ‘herd immunity’ has also been included in the current conservative cat call. But how many understand ‘herd immunity’ is only even feasible well after vaccinations have been started? Johnson made that up then had it immediately batted back down. But it lives on now becoming yet another piece of extreme misinformation.
We still don’t know true infection rates (which are undoubtedly massively higher than current numbers indicate and will become apparent very soon) or, of significant and particular importance, re-infection rates. We also don’t exactly know how many of those who carry COVID but are asymptomatic or only experience minor symptoms are spreading it to others, both younger and older. These are vastly important medical and public health questions still to be resolved before any further arguments or working hypotheses can be accurately represented.
Ultimately, we will need to find a balancing point and there could be a possibility of selected openings and selected access in the nearer term. But that must always and only be based on hard public health data and not politics or political agenda. I am on record of disagreeing with the indefinitely closure of public schools. Schools will need to be reopened – but they will need to look different. Things will have to change since even as we control the current COVID contagion, a second wave is predicted by medical knowledge and the Timeline of History.
Society will also and ultimately find its balance once again due to the principle of regression to the mean. But this disease has far too many questions yet to be solved with many still existing unknowns which need to be pursued in order start smoothing the infection curve. This is a goal, unfortunately, to which we are not even close as cases and deaths continue to surge exponentially.
I’ll say that I’ve grown enormously frustrated of the degree to which so many ‘conservative’ agendas now presume medical – and social/public health – expertise while outright ignoring, and too often demonizing, those who bring authentic medical – and social/public health – expertise. That Donald Trump continues to make misleading, inaccurate and uniformed medical and related statements is remarkable. But that no matter how dangerous or uninformed is the nonsense he says, that it is immediately picked up by hard Right social media and others to be repeated without further thought is deadly.
I suggest that the conservatives who’ve suddenly become ready to mass sacrifice those older and/or with other illnesses to COVID so you can get back to your pub is not only amoral on its face but dearly short sighted. This since if you check more closely, it is also almost assured that some of those older and/or with these preexisting ‘illness’ may well be you, your loved ones and/or friends.
Let’s listen to the experts; to the scientists rather than agenda driven politicians. If we don’t defeat COVID together, we risk not defeating it at all.