Letter to the Editor
Hello to my fellow northern Arkansans! Elaine here, with my dog Elsa again. Don’t know if you remember us, but we first introduced ourselves in the May 6 issue of the Villager Journal. Well, if you’d care to lend another kind ear, we have another topic we’d like to chat with you about...testing. That’s right, we’re talking about COVID-19 testing. Seems like that’s all they’ve been talking about in the news lately, and it gets confusing, cause you hear so many conflicting stories. Well, maybe I can help shed a little light on the issue, at least from what I’ve gleaned while sorting through all the hodge-podge of misinformation.
A lot of this major discourse on the subject is because our president is encouraging, well, really pushing for our economy to get going again. And I don’t blame him, do you? After all, we’d all like to get back to work, and even more so, socializing again! Right?! Especially now that the summer months are upon us. The problem is, this comes at a potentially huge price. If we start limiting social distancing, allowing that bad ol’ Mr. COVID-19 to re-emerge, this can wreak possibly even greater havoc on all of us! By that I mean more cases diagnosed and more quarantines, not to mention more deaths! And we don’t even have well-established treatments, much less a vaccine, to handle that yet. Now don’t get me wrong...I’m all for re-opening our microcosm of the world up here in northern Arkansas, but gradually! I mean, if we move too fast and start relaxing our guidelines of social distancing, wearing our masks, using hand sanitizer, etc., we could open up a whole new can of worms, another outbreak that could be worse than the first, seriously.
One of the problems that has been causing confusion is that the things that President Trump says often do not match with what the medical professionals, including those with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), say. For instance, did you know the CDC just recently wanted to provide to all businesses, schools, churches, and to the general public, a very detailed set of guidelines to follow in the case of a pandemic like this? You know, exactly how to come out of social isolation into a working public and what to do to try to avoid another outbreak. Well, our thoughtful president recently decided, at least initially to block the release of this 68-page report. I believe his exact words were something like “[These guidelines] will never see the light of day.” Well, I guess someone got through to him that these guidelines might actually be helpful to everyone, including the president himself. So he finally agreed to have a watered down version of the guidelines released. You know, changing some of the wording so it doesn’t sound so strict. OK, we can live with that. But the White House agenda on this is still maintaining the position that restarting the economy by opening up any and all businesses takes priority over the health of the American people. This was revealed in statements by a GOP official, and confirmed by the Trump campaign communications director, that “We are recruiting pro-Trump doctors to go on television and prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible without waiting to meet safety benchmarks.” And it was also added that these doctors must say things that are “exactly simpatico with what President Trump believes.” Apparently it has been difficult for them to find such doctors who are willing to do that. The CDC doctors, headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, have made the claim “We have been muzzled.” You know, that’s really unfortunate given that all of the doctors on the U.S. Corona virus task force have the health of the American public as first and top priority.
Nevertheless, we are gradually returning back to a working society, which is good, as long as we respect each other’s space. And knowledge about our own health, and the control of the spread of Mr. COVID, can only be attained through testing. Why is this so important? Because many people who may feel perfectly fine are actually carrying the virus and are still contagious, spreading the virus without even knowing it. That’s where testing comes in. Detection of the virus in otherwise healthy individuals will help us monitor the spread of COVID-19 more accurately.
Now, I know we have a fearless leader in the White House who truly believes that he knows best. Unfortunately, he often does not. His expertise is in business and real estate, not in medicine. Which is no big deal, because the COVID-19 task force, made up of CDC doctors hired by President Trump, is a wonderful team of medical doctors who do understand the intricate workings of an evil virus like Mr. COVID, and who can explain to all of us, as well as to President Trump, what the necessary steps are to contain and control this virus. The problem is Mr. Trump often does not listen to their advice and chooses his own words when speaking to us, the American people. And we so want to believe his words because he tells us things we want to hear, like there’s nothing to worry about and that the virus will just disappear on its own. Well, it might dissipate in the warmer months, but it’s not going away, not without a vaccine. And the experts say it very likely will re-emerge fiercely in the fall, just when schools may open up again. Testing will help so much in tracking the spread of the virus and help us make the right decisions when reintroducing our children into schools again.
Now I am not picking on Mr. Trump, but he has said many things, perhaps naively, that are just not true, and actually don’t always make sense. For instance, he recently was quoted to say “The only reason we have so many COVID cases in the U.S. is because we test so much. If we didn’t test so much, we would have fewer cases!” Now really? Does he think we are that gullible? Or is he just that out-of-touch? The number of cases will remain the same with or without testing. Testing does not CAUSE the Corona virus. Testing DETECTS the virus, allowing us to track its spread, which in turn allows us to be more confident when we do open up our local businesses, schools, and churches!
And President Trump DOES want us to go back to work; he wants the economy to start rising again. Yet he downplays the importance of testing, even calling testing “overrated” and has implied that COVID-19 tests are not necessary for us to go back to work. Again, I have to throw a flag here, REALLY?? “After all, Mr. President, you and the entire staff in the White House are tested every day...and you want us to go back to work, regardless of whether we’re tested or not? Of course, we as the public are not near the level of importance as you or others in the White House, yet does that justify sending us back into a potentially life-threatening work environment without concern for our health? Shouldn’t we be getting tested too, at least occasionally? Huh? I might remind you, sir, that you are supposed to be working for and protecting the American people. That’s YOUR job! And I might add, that if we go into our regular jobs, no testing, there could be a major outbreak of COVID-19 that far out-matches the first, ultimately crushing our economy even further. But perhaps you do not have the foresight for such predictions.”
I want to add for all of my northern Arkansas neighbors and friends, I am neither a Democrat or Republican, I am an Independent voter. I have cast both Democratic and Republican votes in local, state, and federal elections. I am a scientist, a neurobiologist, who believes in facts and data. I don’t base my decisions on emotions elicited out of loyalty to one party or another. And no, this viral pandemic is not a clever hoax designed by Democrats, killing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, in order to sabotage the 2020 election to keep Trump from being re-elected, as some Republicans would have you believe. My, someone thinks highly of himself. I give the American people credit that they can make their own decisions based on the facts that are given to them by well-trained officials rather than by blind lemming-like party loyalty. I also believe that Mr. Trump may be underestimating the intelligence of the American people, thinking that we will believe anything and everything that he, our President, tells us over what the medical professionals say. This is not a political message, but rather a reality check on the facts we are faced with in this viral pandemic crisis, but if the true facts and advice from the professionals are heard and followed, we can beat this thing before it beats us! Just something to think about with your open minds and consciences.
Much love and good health to you all, and please don’t drink disinfectant!