Bob Hren: Secondary impacts of lockdown
There was panic in mid-March. Faulty computer models developed in the UK (the Ferguson/Imperial College London Model) forecast the death of 2.2 million people in the U.S., with similar numbers for Europe.
This, together with the lack of information to treat the virus, resulted in adoption of draconian universal stay-at-home orders for all persons, whether sick or healthy, so that our medical facilities would not be overwhelmed.
Think of that — never in past quarantines have entire countries or continental populations been locked down. Emergency quarantines have normally been applied only to those who were infected and to their immediate families/contacts, not to the entire population of healthy citizens. In all cases, only to the minimum extent necessary.
It could be argued that taking such draconian action resulted in curtailing the impact of the virus. But, other countries, notably Sweden, took a different approach, one their noted immunologist knew was a better course. They encouraged but did not require masks in public and social distancing. They did not shut down the entire country. They did not decide which businesses were “essential” and which were “nonessential.” They did not close their schools.
The COVID19 results in Sweden are about the same as for other major European countries. And, they have not destroyed their economy. Nor have they restricted normal medical treatments and procedures, both physical and mental. They are much closer to “herd immunity” as a result. And, they are not suffering the secondary impacts to physical and mental health.
Under the stresses of lockdown, there has been a significant rise in domestic abuse against children and spouses, mental illness and suicides. Serious “non-essential” medical conditions have gone untreated and an impairment of the natural development of the population’s immune system has occurred. These untreated secondary impacts are a ticking time bomb and will be haunting our county for years to come.
Because of China’s “hiding the ball” about the virus and treatment methods, our health care professionals had little knowledge of treatment methods. Now much more experience and knowledge is available. Fortunately, none of our hospitals in the U.S. have been overwhelmed, and cases are receding.
In Nevada County, the story is even better. Of 41 cases, 40 have been resolved, with one death. Not only has our curve been flattened, it has been demolished. There has not been a new case of COVID19 in our county for over a month.
Other scientific studies and testing have shown that there have been far more people exposed to the virus than previously known. Most had a mild or even unnoticed reaction to the virus. Immunologists are urging that healthy people be allowed to circulate more freely while exercising prudent social distancing (unless they show signs of the disease or have weakened immune systems).
This will allow those of us who are healthy, with robust immune systems, to develop antibodies and lead to the important herd immunity. And, this will allow our economy to recover from this unprecedented artificial and devastating impact caused by the universal lockdown. Additionally, all those secondary medical and mental health impacts can receive attention.
Our governor has said not until a vaccine is developed will he remove the lockdown. Some claims have been made that a vaccine can be developed in 12 to 18 months or even by the end of this year. That would be unprecedented and is not supported by the experience of developing other vaccines. It could take two, three, 10 or more years to develop a safe vaccine for this unique virus if it can even be successfully developed at all. Refer to “Why a coronavirus vaccine could take way longer than a year” posted in April by National Geographic (See this story at TheUnion.com for a direct link) for more on this topic.
So, waiting for a vaccine will devastate our economy, our path towards herd immunity, will risk losing even more people to secondary physical and mental diseases and is a high risk path that our county does not need.
The constitutions of the USA and California guarantee our rights of assembly, free association, free speech, due process and other rights. These have been trampled.
Under state laws, the Governor’s Emergency Decree only permits taking emergency action and taking away constitutional rights for the minimum time necessary to clear a crisis. That time has long passed. Now is the time for our governor to free our citizens.
It is time for us all to demand that the governor end his unconstitutional lockdown order. The governor now owns the full impact of the secondary medical effects as well as of the economic crisis.
Bob Hren lives in Nevada County.
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