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Better safe than sorry?

Is it safe that over 30 million Americans are now unemployed and dependent upon the government? Is it safe that the suicide rate is escalating? Is it safe that we have a dramatic increase in domestic violence, child abuse, drug abuse, and mental illness? Is it safe that the UN estimates that over 200,000 children could potentially die because of government imposed poverty? Is it safe that we are letting criminals out of jail while simultaneously preventing American citizens from exercising their 2nd Amendment right to purchase a firearm? Is it safe to close churches and keep open our liquor stores? Is it safe to prevent medically deemed elective surgeries but allow elective abortions?

The so-called experts have for many months told us what we must do to be “safe.” They change their minds frequently in estimating the severity of the virus, the projected death toll, and the fatality rate. They tell us Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) doesn't work and is dangerous, yet thousands of physicians around the country are using it safely and successfully. Hundreds of thousands of patients take HCQ daily for a variety of auto-immune diseases without incident, yet we are told a short course of HCQ is dangerous. We are then advised as to which large businesses are “essential” and which private, often family owned small businesses are shuttered, with their employees being cast onto the 30 million-strong rolls of the unemployed. Similarly, in the healthcare industry we are told by government bureaucrats which procedures and surgeries are “essential” and who must defer treatment of their ailment for a later date. Many of these decisions are being made arbitrarily. I have seen several patients with significant disruptive conditions being told by this new class of bureaucrat that their medical issue is not essential and they need to wait for definitive treatment. In Canada’s Ontario up to 30 patients have died due to delayed cardiac surgery. This is happening across the world.

Big Brother government is not the answer. Individual liberty with personal risk assessment is the answer. While we need to continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens, we must allow the young, healthy and those living in regions minimally impacted by the virus maximum freedom to get back to work and to exercise their God-given, constitutionally-protected rights. Our Constitution was created with the express intent of limiting and restraining government, not for despots to use in restraining our rights to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.

This virus is dangerous and contagious, but permitting this virus to be used by said despots to control the day to day lives of American citizens is imminently more dangerous. The American spirit is strong. In order to defeat this virus, we must permit the citizenry to get to herd immunity. This means that a significant percentage of the population must be exposed to develop protective antibodies. Herd immunity is accomplished either by natural immunity (exposure), or vaccine induced immunity. A vaccine may become available but likely not until next year or beyond.

We cannot continue to be quarantined until a vaccine is available (as a side note, an AIDS/HIV vaccine is still not available). The young and the healthy have proven to do well against this virus. Of all fatal cases in New York state, two-thirds were in patients over 70 years of age; more than 95 percent were over 50 years of age; and about 90 percent of all fatal cases had an underlying illness. We are learning that many were exposed (unaware) and had little or no symptoms.

We must continue to protect these folks at greatest risk, but we can never get to herd immunity by quarantining the healthy herd. It is time to open up our schools, our places of worship, and our businesses - with some commonsense precautions. It is time to allow the American citizens to get back to work, and normalcy, not the “new normal” that government bureaucrats wish to impose upon us, that grants them dictatorial powers, while treating us as subjects, denying us the rights that are granted us by the Constitution.

Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D. is a board-certified primary care physician in Southern California

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