Don’t Trust Us

Recently, I may have expressed a little skepticism toward public health experts telling us what we should or shouldn’t, could or couldn’t do.  Medicine is so infused and shot through with political agendas that it is almost impossible to separate the two.  In fact, it no longer is.

When a public health “expert”, be it an actual physician, an online-degreed NP, someone with a master’s in public health from Harvard, or a well-meaning midwife, publicly tells you what to do, be suspicious.  Treat them like the self-aggrandizing TV preacher wannabe they probably are, grab your wallet and your crotch, and back away.  Run, if you have a clear field.

I don’t care what you think about the Covid-19 lockdown, social distancing, or compulsory masks in public.  I don’t care what you think about all the protests and riots currently roiling our nation.  Think what you want, grab a pitcher, and head over to the other table to hash it out.

As I have suggested in previous posts, when medicine becomes political, we lose our seriousness, and we lose our credibility.  This week over 1,200 “health and medical colleagues … penned an open letter to express their concern that protests around the United States could be shut down under the guise of coronavirus health concerns.”  These “experts” don’t want Covid-19 restrictions to interfere with large public protests.

Dutifully reported by CNN, “Staying at home, social distancing, and public masking are effective at minimizing the spread of COVID-19. To the extent possible, we support the application of these public health best practices during demonstrations …

However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission.”

Putting aside one’s feelings about the national Covid-19 response, and the ongoing unrest, we are left with this, and it is indisputable:  the same people who told us a month ago it was tantamount to murder to reopen businesses or walk down the street without a mask, now suspend their own urgent recommendations based on no evidence whatsoever.  A large public gathering that was allegedly dangerous and illegal two weeks ago is now not condemned “as risky” for communicable disease.

This is as duplicitous as it is disgusting.  As physicians are reduced to local health commissars, we surrender all moral authority, and deservedly lose any trust our patients once had in us.

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Pat Conrad MD

Pat Conrad is a full-time rural ER doc on the Florida Gulf Coast. After serving as a carrier naval flight officer, he graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and the Tallahassee Family Medicine residency program. His commentary has appeared in Medical Economics and at . Conrad’s work stresses individual freedom and autonomy as the crucial foundation for medical excellence, is wary of all collective solutions, and recognizes that the vast majority of poisonous snakebites are concurrent with alcohol consumption. 

  6 comments for “Don’t Trust Us

  1. Rando
    June 14, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Following up on this the press is breathlessly reporting COVID spikes in several states without bothering to look at how many tests were done, the percentage of positives, or the number of COVID admissions. It’s just amazing to me how consistently bad the media is at analyzing the numbers. One positive thing – according to what I’m seeing in the news the virus seems to be spread almost entirely from people sitting on the beach. If we can control that we’ll be fine.

  2. stuart
    June 13, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    “the same people who told us a month ago it was tantamount to murder to reopen businesses or walk down the street without a mask, now suspend their own urgent recommendations based on no evidence whatsoever”

    That’s an easy claim to make.

    Give us names of those who made the murder statement you describe who are now supporting protests without masking.

    • Pat
      June 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

      One of the experts cited in the story is Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist.

      Dr. Nuzzo in April: “I think what’s going to happen now is that we will, through these crippling social distancing measures, eventually slow our incidents to a more manageable point. And then we’ll have to think about relaxing the social distancing measures very slowly.”

      Nuzzo again in April: “So I think it’s important for everyone to realize that the social distancing measures that we’re doing right now are absolutely essential. They are needed to stop that rapid growth in cases that we saw about a month ago, but they’re not a cure. They’re a pause button. As soon as we begin to release, we should expect to see a rise in cases, and unless we have a plan to deal with them, we could find ourselves right back where we started…”

      Nuzzo 2 weeks ago: “…there was no choice but to implement these very broad and, frankly, you know, damaging in their own right, but nonetheless necessary, lock down and all sorts of other restrictions in an attempt to kind of hit pause and make up for lost preparations.”

      Nuzzo last week: “In this moment the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus.”

      When so esteemed an epidemiologist can suddenly identify a worse health crisis arising from a non-quantifiable, non-objective threat, it reeks of politics.

      Read other unhinged statements from Dr. Abby Hussein, also mentioned in the piece, and you’re treated to more utterly subjective, non-quantifiable assertions from another expert using her credentials to wave around her political views.

      State governors and city mayors have repeatedly told their citizens that breaking lockdown, or not wearing masks everywhere including in the shower ( put others at risk. NYC Mayor Cuomo and Virginia Governor Northam are a couple of sparkling gems in this genre, along with the vast majority of media from CNN to Fox.

      So my rhetorical flourish is entirely justified, and these individuals are hypocrites.

      • stuart
        June 16, 2020 at 12:30 pm

        Thanks for the reply.

  3. PW
    June 13, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Here’s the other irony. The very people that are at greater risk, and have less access to health care-minorities- are now going to be further exposed.

  4. Rando
    June 13, 2020 at 9:08 am

    The message from the press and the 1200 health experts is clear: if we support the protest it’s worth the health risk, if we don’t then it isn’t.

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