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COVID-19: Your Stupid Is No Better Than Anyone Else's Stupid

ALPERN AT LARGE--Again...Eric Garcetti, meet Donald Trump--and the above two photos say it all.

Neither they nor others around them are doing what's right to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Difficult decisions make for both brave solutions and terrible, unforced errors. COVID-19 is no game, and although politics keeps eclipsing science, people will get sick, suffer, and maybe die because of that. 

Two quick key points, as both a physician and someone who wants all Americans of all races (and all people, period) to get through this pandemic alive and healthy: 

1) Masks protect other people from you unless you don't cover your nose with your mask. Face shields and social distancing protect you from others. And it's impossible to know who's got it, and who doesn't, based on any one given symptom (or lack of it). 

2) No matter how much you feel God and righteousness is on your side, if you march, scream, sing, and/or stand too close to others for more than a few moments, you're increasing your chance to catch the COVID-19 virus. 

A few other points:

1) In short, if you're President Trump, a better approach than he's been using would be: "Wear your masks when you're around and up close to other people, because I want this economy to open up huge and wide."

2) In short, if you're Mayor Garcetti (or any other civic leader, such as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who contracted COVID-19), a better approach than what's been used would be: "Wear your masks when you're around and up close to other people, because no one else should die because of the terrible death of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police."

3) In short, unless you're into the "herd immunity" thing (which may, horribly enough, be the only way to get through this if no long-acting vaccine can be created for this virus from Hell, lab-created or otherwise), we've all gotta hang in there until a vaccine or three are out there to protect us.

4) In short, we've gotta reopen up the economy and our schools...but...only...when...it's...safe! 

There is both hope and uncertainty at this immediate time. This is July 2020, and not March 2020, and while our questions still outnumber our answers, we're NOT as confused and ignorant as we were but a few months ago:

1) The Warp Speed effort of a SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine development is bearing fruit...but the questions of how accessible, how effective, how safe, and how long-lasting are all vital, appropriate, and unanswered at this time. There is no doubt in my mind that vaccines will be ready by the fall, but how viable will they be?

2) Hydroxychloroquine, or Plaquenil, DOES help some patients doggone safe and may be part of the reason why we're seeing MORE COVID-19 cases but FEWER deaths.

Again, some will NOT be saved but some will, and that's usually the way medicine works, I'm afraid. Not fair, of course, but heck--I didn't make these rules. As a physician, I am well aware that Mother Nature is one hell of a cruel witch at times, isn't she?

Plaquenil HAS saved lives, as stated by more than one scientific journal. There are plenty of reasons to be angry at our President in his response to the COVID-19 virus, but his "right to try" approach is one that appears petty and downright dangerous. Let's just try to save lives, OK? 

3) In later courses and severity of the COVID-19 infection, it's your own body's immune hyperresponse that kills you, or gives you strokes at the very least in those unfortunate and miserable few, so anti-Interleukin 6 medicines like Tocilizumab and anti-platelet/vascular inflammation drugs will help some, but not others. 

4) What IS appalling is the shortage of testing available to Americans for the virus, because that's the best way to figure out who's got it, and who doesn't (yet). It's just terrible when friends and patients ask me where/how it's easiest to get tested, and I don't have a good answer. Because there IS no easy way...yet.

On a related note, whether it was a sarcastic joke or not, President Trump was horribly wrong to suggest we "stop testing". As per Dr. Fauci, that's not happening, but the optics and questions raised are very upsetting to most Americans. 

5) Even worse is the worsening shortage of protective gear for medical workers that's cropping up again). That's inexcusable in July 2020, despite it being understandable in March 2020. It's pretty obvious, Mr. President, and to all our nations' governors, how to open up a major portion of our economy. Domestic paper products are one hell of a helpful and necessary way to boost local manufacturing and jobs.  

6) American innovation continues to be a source of light in the middle of our current plight, such as the Houston/Galveston creation of a filter for rooms that stops and kills the COVID-19 virus.

Especially because this probably won't be our last pandemic in our global economy. 

To conclude, this isn't a joke. This isn't a Monty Python sketch of "bring out your dead", to quote Eric Idle of the "Holy Grail" fame.

Both the anti-maskers and the protesters probably feel that God and righteousness is on their side. But both aren't and didn't wear masks and use social distancing to do the right thing. One person's stupid is no better than another person's stupid. Dr. Fauci is FOR opening our economy and schools if possible and safe, FOR wearing masks, and FOR social distancing (even if protesting).

And if we're going to reopen our economy, reopen our schools, and get past this pandemic, we're going to have be smart. There is just no room for anyone's stupid, of any type of stupid, of any source of stupid, for the American people in the 21st Century.

(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 8-9 years and is also a Westside Village Zone Director. He previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

-cw