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State COVID-19 restrictions are hazardous to public health

Debra Saunders on

Strict shutdown rules, he added, are "not possible to maintain over an extended space of time."

It's no longer spring, when American doctors weren't sure how to treat COVID-19 patients and, in a panic, ventilators were overused, Bhattacharya told me. Today's treatments -- dexamethasone, remdesivir and antibody therapies -- are much more effective.

Mask mandates? Bhattacharya responded, "I'm not saying that masks shouldn't have some role," especially to protect vulnerable people, because there are instances in which they are appropriate. But he thinks that the mask issue has "divided people."

The evidence on cloth masks, Bhattacharya noted, is "very, very mixed" and "there is no randomized study that says that mask mandates will help slow the spread of the disease."

"It's very mixed evidence," he added. "I don't think it's worth the fight we've had over it."

What bothers Bhattacharya especially is how the chattering class blame people who got the disease if they didn't wear cloth masks.

(My aside: Cloth masks are not supposed to protect the wearer, but those around the wearer. So go ahead and be smug for blaming the barefaced for getting sick because they didn't wear cloth masks, but that attitude could create a false sense of security for the smug. I'll wear one when appropriate, but six feet of distance is more likely to protect me. And still I could get it.)

 

Bhattacharya thought of other infectious diseases, such as HIV, and the work public health officials did to destigmatize illnesses and not blame those who are infected. It's not an effective way to fight a disease.

"Shame," he warned, "should not be in our tool kit."

We live in a moment when Americans can assess their risk and how much they find acceptable. We take responsibility for ourselves, look out for the vulnerable and go forward.

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Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

 

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