Set Us Free

As states gradually open up aspects of their economy Dr. Fauci and others are predicting there will be an uptick in the number of cases of COVID-19.  Contagious diseases are spread by close contact between infected and non-infected individuals.  It is common sense that when people begin interacting numbers of those infected will necessarily increase.  There are only two ways to prevent the spread of a disease:  complete isolation or immunization.  Since a vaccine is likely a year or more away from widespread distribution, isolation is the only effective method of preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Interestingly enough, a recent spike in infections in NYC occurred in people who were self-isolating.  Even in the best of circumstances, contagious diseases are likely to spread.  The primary method of spread for COVID-19 is aerosol droplets containing the virus.  We can assume that the virus survives in droplets and are carried on air currents to infect others.  It is known that the virus survives longer in cooler temperatures and rates of infection have tended to be higher in more temperate regions such as NYC.  Despite a high percentage of elderly residents, Florida has not seen the rate of infection and mortality that they have seen some northern states such as New York.  We can expect an increase in the number of cases as cities and regions begin opening up, but this is typical for any contagious disease.  The same can be expected during the cold and flu season as people congregate in groups.  Focus should remain on protecting the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.  Governor Cuomo blundered when he allowed infected individuals to be sent into nursing homes, a population that is at risk.  We can’t hide from this virus forever and a vaccine that is mass produced and widely distributed may take as much as 18 months.  Keep in mind that the flu vaccine is seldom appropriately formulated for the strain of influenza each season.  It would be naïve to expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be 100% effective since scientists believe that the virus is capable of mutating.  The influenza virus is responsible for a number of fatalities every year and we have never shut down the economy to prevent its spread (at least in recent years).  There are also a number of individuals who will refuse any vaccine.  Herd immunity will only occur if enough people either have had the infection or have been vaccinated.

There are a handful of states who are extending the shutdown for several more months. Americans are rightly protesting because small businesses can’t survive for several more months of a shutdown.  Americans (especially American entrepreneurs) are risk takers and are willing to return to work and reopen businesses despite the potential for infection.  The fatality rate from COVID-19 is miniscule unless you are in a high-risk category.  I heard one businessman say that he would rather risk infection than to start his business from scratch.  No one is forcing anyone to return to work or to patronize a business or restaurant.  If you are high-risk or don’t feel safe then stay home.  Experts feel the virus will be with us for many years and sooner or later we will likely encounter it in some form (researchers note the virus may be mutating).  We can wait on a vaccine, but immunology has taught us that the strongest immunity occurs when you have successfully recovered from an active infection.  Americans have traditionally faced enemies head on; this is just the latest threat to America and humanity.

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