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No mask, no treatment

Let’s be clear; this pandemic is nowhere near over.

It is a good thing I am no longer in a position to influence or enforce policy because this is what I would recommend to my governor if still the Chief Medical Officer for Nebraska.

You don’t wear a face mask to protect vulnerable citizens, you don’t deserve to move to the top of the list to get treatment just because you are young and they are old or infirm.

And I would get fired, because Nebraska’s current Gov. Pete Ricketts, has made the following public statement; if local public health officials mandate mask wearing, no federal COVID relief money will be coming from his office to their departments (to paraphrase).

Let’s be clear; this pandemic is nowhere near over.

On June 25, we set a new record for new COVID cases with a total of 37,667. June 24 there were 34,313 new cases. June 23 saw 26,657 new cases. On June 3 there were mere 14,767 new cases of COVID diagnosed. Are you seeing a trend the wrong direction?

On June 24 there were 784 new deaths from COVID-19. We stand, on June 25, at 121,717 dead and 2,336,615 cases diagnosed.

In week 20 of 2020, 28% of U.S. deaths were from pneumonia, influenza or COVID. The normal peak in flu season is around 7%.

With the reopening of restaurants, bars, athletic training camps, libraries and other venues for the public to gather, not to mention the riots that saw hundreds without masks, this was inevitable.

Do not get me wrong; I need to get out and watch the grandkids compete in their sports before I go nuts. I am desperate to get to my favorite Thai restaurant. I want to feel comfortable hand-picking out my favorite steak, not be at the mercy of the grocery stores employees to select the ones for curb side pickup that would likely be discarded or ground at the end of the day.

But for crying out loud, please wear a mask when out in public, wash your hands after handling anything possibly shared with others (like mail, newspapers, groceries, gas pumps, etc.) and keep your social distancing.

Until we have a vaccine, this is the only way we can slow the spread.

All those safety measures seem to be flying out the window.

It’s okay to wear a life jacket when water skiing, a helmet when snow skiing or riding a bike, to use sunscreen and to wear a seat belt to protect us. But when asked to wear a mask to protect the vulnerable population many become outraged.

Why are we making this so difficult?

We still require face masks in public buildings here in Larimer County, but not in neighboring Weld County, which has an infection rate per 100,000 residents that is six times higher than ours is.

Cause and effect? Likely a factor.

But just last week I suited up and ventured into a grocery store to buy some swordfish steaks that were not available curb side. I watched two couples walk by the signs announcing the county ordinance requiring face masks and the store employee at the door to make certain people obeyed that law.

As soon as they got past the employee they ripped their masks off and stuffed them in their pockets.

I put them in the same category as the big burly men dressed in leather that attend public meetings discussing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws and try to intimidate, the antiabortionists who bomb clinics and kill physicians and the anti-vaccine crowd that threatens policy makers.   

Face masks, why wear them?

Not to protect you, but to protect others.

The N 95 masks the health care providers wear help protect them because they are special material and they are form fitted for a seal.

The mask you made or got off Ebay or from Amazon does not protect you. It protects others near you if you are an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Your cough or sneeze is contained by the mask.

So you macho people out there that say “No one is going to tell me what to do, because I am young and healthy and I have read that that group does not get sick” please consider this.

You are mostly correct, but I am old with high blood pressure and my daughter has Multiple Sclerosis and takes an immune system modifier. We are at risk, and you put us at more risk if you do not wear a mask. 

To quote Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University; “Going out in public without a mask is like driving drunk. Even if you don’t get hurt, you might kill somebody else.”

With more than 120,000 deaths in the U.S. and case counts rising in 29 states, it is hard to say that this is going well and we should relax and not listen to public health officials advising us on how to protect ourselves and others around us.

And those public health officials are being threatened. Social media is being used to spread death threats and make anti-Semitism and transphobia comments that were unheard of in years past.

They are being attacked on officials’ race, gender, sexual orientation and appearance.

Two dozen have resigned, including eight state health directors and a half dozen city-county health directors here in Colorado, including the aforementioned Weld County Health Director who felt they should slow down opening up public gatherings in the wake of their high numbers of positive cases.

Actually, resigned is a polite way of saying he had to change his opinion or leave the building. He left.

To quote my longtime friend Georges Benjamin, M.D., who was the Chief Medical Officer for Maryland when I was Nebraska’s, and is now the executive director of the American Public Health Assn.; “We run the risk of losing some of our best, most well-qualified people right when we need them the most.”

This is not good.

My biggest question today is why can mobs gather in close proximity to each other and not wear masks or have hand sanitizers with them, but I cannot go to church, wearing a mask and social distancing.

This is crazy, please try and help us all regain some sanity.

Wear a mask when appropriate!

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