FALSE EQUIVALENCE: Government lockdown vs Coronavirus

Authors:  Parvez Dara, MD, MBA and Craig M. Wax, DO

There is a powerful force in humans that drives their destinies. This force asserts itself in the form of Liberty. In the Declaration of Independence, the statement “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” is the most powerful of those liberating words ever written. The absence of subjugation to power and the right to act, speak, or think as one wants, are the tenets of what makes us all Americans. When these basic rights are threatened, the ire of freedom loving people is raised.

 The current COVID-19 pandemic seems to have roiled the tranquil waters. In this chaos many a voice seems to invoke falsehoods and render them as truths. There is a false equivalency between disparate ideas that rule the minds of the policy makers and in attempting to rule the minds of the citizens.

 Let us look at the past 6 weeks and gather reality from this recent past. As the pandemic broke across the Pacific and Atlantic shores simultaneously there was a sense of urgency and panic. The urgency was implied by some very poor models that were based on hypotheticals that failed to materialize. Large quantities of beds were made available and larger numbers of ventilators were built to respond to a threat that never materialized. Most of the beds remained empty and ventilators are being diverted to other countries.

 Yet, the virus continues to move through the United State from both coasts into the middle taking thousands of lives in its wake. The tally of the infections and deaths has become the daily mantra of the experts. In fact, some seem to thrive in reporting such numbers, and take delight in the fact that the worst is seemingly yet to come. Even in the face of a slow and steady decline, these experts continue to feed the beast of public fear. Caught in the trap are politicians that have a lesser sense of what is real. The louder the drumbeat, the more deference is paid to the experts. Policies are made to counter this beast of an epidemic. No one seems to pause and reflect for a moment as to what is at stake with each policy or mandate they conjure. No one!

 One such policy is the “lockdown” of private commerce in its many forms. Closure of hotels, airlines, shops and even short distance travel is frowned upon. So much so, that drones have been utilized by police precincts to command and control and command citizen movements through virtual means. In West Texas, the police SWAT Team was summoned to close down a bar. The loudest voices seem to be repeating the phrase, “We must flatten the curve.” By that they mean they imply,  “Social distancing,” from one another and, “shelter at home,” the spread of the virus will be contained, and the healthcare system will not be overburdened. Meanwhile dubious policies take flight; Prisoners are released while law abiding citizens are imprisoned for walking with their children.

 But within this “shelter in place” and other such terms, is a sinister mechanism that has raised its ugly head and seems to hover over us as the Sword of Damocles. The thinking goes that if private businesses are opened too soon, then we will have many hundreds of thousands of more deaths. That specter shakes the core of any human being. But time is passing, and more and more information is being revealed. The virus seems to not like living under sunlight and moist air. Yet even armed with this knowledge, the powerful governing forces have shut down parks and beaches, albeit a few have been reluctantly opened due to pressure from citizen protests. Small businesses still are forced to remain closed. Among small businesses,  physician office closures  are having a deleterious effect on medical care of the infirmed and ailing fellow citizens. There are estimates of over 6,000 early deaths among cancer patients alone, with 80,000 missed diagnoses of cancer. Other specialties are also seeing fewer patients with heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and kidney disease. All these patients have been furloughed from healthcare due to fears of hospitalization and close contact with others for fear of contracting COVID-19. How many people will die from such an action?  The number will most certtainly exceed deaths from COVID-19.

 False equivalency exists between the control of the virus and the shelter in place concept.  Although shelter in place may have, “flattened the curve,” it still remains in dispute given the data from Sweden, certain states, and other parts of the world, where shelter in place was not undertaken by  government force. The essence of this virus suggests that it will find “parity” with its surroundings and eventually die off. “Parity,” here means herd immunity. Scientists have since the beginning said that it will take infection of 70% or more of the population for the virus to finally die off. But some epidemiologists have models that suggest only 25-30% of infected population shuts the virus down. Further evidence suggests that between 40% to as much as 65% of the deaths were from Nursing Home patients. In fact, the Swedish Health Minister stated  that the increased deaths in Sweden were from poor infection control in nursing homes. The incomprehensibility of some enforced policies of moving patients with COVID-19 into the nursing homes in New York, New Jersey and California are counterfactual to scientific reality. Governors’ policies directly increased morbidity and loss of life. It would therefore be prudent to allow the country to open for business and people over 65 years of age with co-morbidities might continue, “physical distancing,” as preventative measure against the virus. The younger population meanwhile can begin the process of normal living with recommended good hygiene standards. The herd will get itself immunized and the virus will become a distant memory, and limit further economic, emotional and health damage caused by the capricious government lockdown.

 While Aristotle suggested that desire can be subjugated to reason and Plato stated that all desire must be postponed for a higher ideal, the current ideal threatens the economic welfare of everyday workers in every country, as the economic collapse continues from these unbridled restrictions. Socrates meanwhile argued, “that happiness and personal growth were a major purpose of life, and a central goal of education.” If that is true, and it is, then the current actions by some governors are a direct assault on individual human liberty and freedom to pursue happiness.

 It is therefore imperative that Governors exerting undue force of their incomprehensible logic, should undo their dictates and open the civil activities of daily life, so that for the time being those aged 18 to 60 years of age can work and provide for their families. Government subsidies cannot sustain life as has been evidenced throughout history. The United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 As the New Hampshire flag and automobile license moniker states, “Live Free or Die.” Let us throw off the chains of government lockdown and assume our rightful individual rights and responsibilities. We must demand our freedom to continue to live under that banner of liberty.