Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Unfortunately, there have been many false things said about the present pandemic, and these continue to be spread even at the highest levels of our government, so it seems a good time to call these out.
The present pandemic is, unfortunately, still spreading like wildfire. It is NOT under control in the U.S. A quick look at the curve of cases compared to what is going on in the European Union (EU) illustrates this point; for example, see https://bit.ly/3evRVNY. In fact, the EU has banned Americans from traveling there because of the explosion of cases we are having; we have seen a record number of cases recently. These cases are NOT explained by more testing. If this was true, then the percentage of positive tests would be going down, and they are not; for example, see https://bit.ly/3fxG2by. In fact, MANY states are seeing record percentages of tests coming back positive. Because of this, in many places, we are NOT able to test, trace and isolate to help control the spread of cases, because the number of cases has overwhelmed our inadequate ability to do this contact tracing. While it is fine to try to be optimistic, “hope” is NOT a strategy to get us through this crisis - science and facts are. For example, hydroxychloroquine has, in general, not been shown to be effective (although one study hinted at positive results, many have shown no benefit or even harm and the prevailing scientific opinion at this time is that it is NOT a useful treatment in general), and even in the most optimistic estimates, a proven effective vaccine is NOT likely to be available by the end of the year.
*Bleach and other disinfecting agents are NOT to be taken internally. And drinking alcohol is NOT protective. And the conspiracy theory that 5G spreads the virus is NOT based on any science or facts. Thankfully, the percentage of deaths from the cases being identified is going down (good news), driven by multiple factors including more cases in younger people. But it is NOT true that 99% of cases are “totally harmless.” Please do NOT believe this nonsense. Although the mortality rate may be under 1-3% for young healthy people, way too many are still dying, and many of these younger people still have significant medical complications even if the virus does not kill them, and, of course, they may go on to spread the virus further, including to those in higher-risk groups. The hot weather and sun will NOT make the virus magically disappear. We should all know this by the spread of cases to countries with hot weather, and of course from the explosion of cases occurring now in the U.S., very much including states in the South and Southwest. I am going to be a bit harsh here, but people who say masks do NOT help or that you can NOT breathe with a mask on are just foolish. Although use of a mask may have limited efficacy for protecting the wearer, when used correctly, masks significantly help minimize the spread of the virus. And clinicians routinely wear masks for extended periods of time, for example in the operating room or in an ICU where there may be immunocompromised patients. I have worn a mask for over 12 hours continuously on many occasions. Taking someone’s temperature and finding they don’t have a fever does NOT mean that they are not a potential spreader of the virus. We absolutely know that the virus may be spread by people who do not have any symptoms. Other good news, as far as we know now, the COVID-19 virus is NOT spread by insect bites.
These are only a few of the things that are NOT true that are being spread. This misinformation may be politically expedient for someone trying to get reelected, but it is clearly a driver of the incredibly poor job our government is doing to protect us from this pandemic, and is a contributing factor as to why the U.S. has over a quarter of all the COVID-19 cases and over a quarter of all the deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, even though we represent only 4-5% of the world’s population.
Jeff Hersh, Ph.D., M.D., can be reached at DrHersh@juno.com.