I am not an epidemiologist and am certainly not Anthony Fauci. I am, however, a former social worker and a physician with over 25 years of experience in health care. And I think it is time we face some facts about the COVID pandemic.

We are not going to be able to eradicate or even contain this very contagious virus any time soon, so we had better find a way to live with it. The virus is so prevalent in most communities that contact tracing is meaningless, as are draconian 14-day quarantines. These have become COVID theater — as useless as supermarkets banning reusable grocery bags last spring.

From the start we have ignored human nature in our general COVID response. It is natural for people to be frightened, but it is not natural for human beings to be isolated from each other for long periods of time; and it is to be expected that once restrictions were eased, long-separated family members would want to see each other, and young (and older) people would want to congregate.

We are now permanently damaging the educational and social development of our young people — especially minorities and low-income children. Anyone who believes that children can lose a year or more of school and then simply catch up is delusional, and any teacher will tell you that.

Child abuse has markedly increased, as at-risk families are crammed inside together without the watchful eyes of teachers or caseworkers. And in many large urban areas, homicide rates are soaring.

Some 32,000 restaurants in the United States have already closed, with many more to come. Hundreds of thousands of other small businesses and cultural entities have also gone under. These are the backbone of our cities and small towns, and their absence will make our daily lives much more sterile in the years ahead, and the economic future bleak for so many.

In developing or third-world countries that do not have established societal safety nets, the collateral damage is far worse, with millions facing starvation as their most basic economies are destroyed.

People have generally followed Fauci’s recommendations and are no longer shaking hands or hugging each other — even family members. How does that feel?

The president has been scapegoated for the spread of the virus. Granted, the man is an idiot and has suggested preposterous solutions, such as injecting bleach. But even a Franklin D. Roosevelt would not have been able to stop this virus. For example, Germany has Angela Merkel as chancellor, a level-headed, trusted, trained scientist — and the virus is surging again in Germany, and the Germans tend to be very conscientious.

Please, let us not let this virus defeat or rob us of our humanity. And let us remember that life in general is not without risk. We know that wearing masks, washing hands and providing good ventilation does help. Medical personnel have learned better ways to treat the sickest patients. New medicines and one or more vaccines are on the horizon. In the meantime, let’s open the schools, keep our businesses and libraries in operation, and not let our older relatives die alone.

Wear your mask, wash your hands … and support each other through this very difficult time.


Louis Meyers is a physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center, lives in South Burlington and was a Democratic candidate for Senate in the last election.

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(1) comment

AW

I was surprised when I read this misleading and frankly detrimental article in the November 19th Shelburne News and felt compelled to respond.

The Counter-point article begins by saying “we are not going to be able to eradicate or even contain this very contagious virus anytime soon”. However, many places have done a great job of containing the virus for many months and the point of these restrictions isn’t to eradicate the virus it’s to save lives. Perhaps the reason contact tracing isn’t useful in certain locations is the decision to forego preventative measures as long as possible before taking action. In other countries contact tracing and then quarantines have been incredibly effective and to say otherwise is a misrepresentation of the facts.

Many leaders, locally and abroad, have successfully struck a balance between saving people’s lives and acknowledging humans inherent need to be social. Where is the evidence that this balance, which does allow for interaction albeit with limitations, does not fulfill, in part, our need for socialization? Is it less then ideal and does it take some getting used to? Absolutely. But the clear benefits outweigh any downside.

The argument about the harm restrictions have had on our young people is missing a very damaging consideration, that of their grandparents, parents, or loved ones dying of a disease that may have been avoided. And, unless I’m missing something, aren’t many schools open albeit with restrictions? Clearly people know education is still incredibly important and, yes, it is more difficult to teach over a screen but to say there isn’t any learning being done is wrong.

In terms of the economic impact of the pandemic lets be perfectly candid: Small businesses and restaurants going out of business wasn’t something that necessarily had to happen. This was a political choice in which our government decided not to provide the necessary financial support and protection for the people they are supposed to be looking out for. Other countries focused on supporting these business and individuals whose livelihoods were damaged to a much greater extent.

The comment is made that “Well the virus is surging again in Germany” Hmm I wonder if the cold weather and more people staying inside might have anything to do with it? At the very least the measures taken in other countries slowed down the first wave of the virus and will likely blunt the second. And, as for the president being scapegoated for the spread of the virus, his administration and unhinged tweeting has certainly contributed to the spread. The metric for success in managing the pandemic isn’t stopping the virus its how many lives can be saved. By actively working to prevent people from taking appropriate steps to protect themselves and others, Donald Trump hasn’t even done the bare minimum and that is absolutely something for which he should be held accountable.

And finally, the argument is made that we shouldn’t let this virus “rob us of our humanity”. In fact, while this situation has resulted in harm and hardship, it has also showcased another important facet of humanity, empathy for others. Accepting certain restrictions and changes to how people interact is a better representation of our humanity then shrugging our shoulders and simply saying “Live with it”.

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