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.