Did America Get It Wrong?

By Jefferey Jaxen

May’s continuing State shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders mean those two draconian decrees now grind into a second month. Many Americans have experienced the negative ripple effect upon their finances and personal lives. More people are asking whether political and federal health leaders have made the right choices during the coronavirus outbreak and reflecting on past choices by these officials as well. 

A recent opinion column by Dr. Scott W. Atlas titled The data is in — stop the panic and end the total isolation makes the case that “population immunity” is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.

Dr. Atlas’ point was echoed weeks earlier by top biostatistician Knut M. Wittkowski when he stated “There is no evidence around that doing these antisocial, separation or prohibition…has any effect on the epidemic with one exception…[it] is broadening it [the curve] and that means that it takes more time.

On Thursday, April 23, recent jobless claims were released. More than 4 million new unemployment claims were reported for the week, bringing the total to over 26 million. This wipes out all gains from the so-called “Great Recession.” Historically and statistically, sudden staggering unemployment numbers are almost always soon accompanied by a hellish whirlwind of human suffering: crimes, violence, addiction, physical health conditions, mental health issues, depression and increased suicides. 

Yet these subjects are rarely addressed by corporate media, which makes near zero effort to provide balance to their coronavirus fear mongering.   

President Donald Trump has indicated many states can reopen by May 1.  The White House and U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), put forth general guidelines for states to follow – if they want to. 

Georgia broke first, followed by South Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio, all announcing last week that they would be easing restrictions and beginning the reopening process. Many, especially Georgia, were met with a headwind of corporate media ire. Currently, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina have also announced steps to restart their economies.

The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated in an interview that the U.S. was backing off from modeling predictions and focusing on realtime data which they would supply to states to guide their respective reopening processes.

Trump, who encouraged governors and state officials to make their own decisions, appeared to sandbag Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, saying, “I told the governor very simply that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right.

Many other states with stay-at-home orders—what U.S. Attorney General William Barr called “disturbingly close to house arrest”—announced extensions well into May, shuttering restless populations further into the closing days of Spring. Stories of states opening are being juxtaposed by those experiencing extended shutdown orders creating more fuel for surging protests moving into the coming weeks.  

One dark irony has been increasing reports of empty and vacant hospitals amid the coronavirus scare. In a telling article titled ‘Where are the strokes and the heart attacks?’ Doctors worry as patients avoid ERs quotes from emergency room doctors were haunting—

“Where are the strokes and the heart attacks? Where are the diabetics having complications?” said Dr. Larry Stock, an emergency physician at Antelope Valley Hospital. “These cases didn’t just vaporize with the virus. I worry people are suffering at home because they’re afraid our emergency rooms are radioactive.”

“At Kaiser Permanente, which operates a large network of hospitals around the state, emergency department patients have fallen off by more than half, a Kaiser representative said. The number of people being transported by ambulance to hospitals in Los Angeles County is down between 20% and 30%, a county official said.”

A study analyzing nine major cardiac centers around the country from January 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 found that in March, as the coronavirus spread, the number of patients who underwent critical artery-clearing procedures reduced by 38% reduction. There was a similar 40% reduction recorded in Spain. 

New findings have (finally!) echoed whistleblowing doctors up in arms about the aggressive and seemingly improper hospital ventilation techniques for COVID-19 patients. An analysis published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene used gentle, scientific language to signal to the medical community that they are hurting people with their improper use of ventilators. 

The authors called for a phased approach for Covid-19 patients with respiratory difficulty. Forcing oxygen-enriched air at high pressure and in large volumes, called high PEEP ventilation, was associated with “ventilator-induced injury and increased mortality” according to the study. 

There is a growing recognition that some Covid-19 patients, even in severe cases, can be safely treated with simple nose prongs or face masks that deliver oxygen. How many patients have been unnecessarily injured or killed due to improper ventilation protocols? Have hospitals immediately activated the new findings and approaches to ventilation?

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that more than 85% of those placed on ventilators in New York’s largest hospital system due to coronavirus symptoms later died. The study’s authors quickly updated data in the JAMA report lowering the total to 25% of Covid-19 patients placed on ventilators at Northwell Health died.

In a recent interview, Minnesota State Senator Dr. Scott Jensen told The HighWire hospitals coding patients as Covid-19 would get higher reimbursements, even more so if they were put on ventilators, according to numbers given to him by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

The slowdown of supply chains will put the world on “the brink of a hunger pandemic” in just a few short months, according to David Beasley, director of the United Nations World Food Program. 

In the U.S., farmers and food producers are being forced into impossible corners. Reports of dairy producers pouring milk out and farmers allowing their crops to rot in the field are headlines that are driving home the shutdown severity of America’s perilous state of the union.

Several food producers are finding a silver lining with their situation. In Idaho, Cranney Farms announced on Facebook a give-away of 2 million potatoes. Some local dairy farmers are giving away free milk to local residents. Supermarket chain Publix announced that it will buy fresh produce and milk from Florida farmers and southeastern dairies impacted by the coronavirus and donate the staples to Feeding America-member food banks.

There are endless stories of heartbreak and hope being played out in real time due to policies implemented by our governments. As some states begin to open businesses and allow residents to move freely, will other populations forced to stay locked down comply? What do you think?