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The COVID–19 Decision from Hell: Safety or a Recovering Economy?

LEANING RIGHT-People gotta live. People gotta eat. People gotta work. Unfortunately, people gonna die (and always have). 

Part of the reason why COVID-19 has been devastating to the nations of the world is that it goes against every tenet and facet of our free society. The freer a society, the more opposed to a recurrent and ongoing lockdown that nation will be. 

And EVERY state is our nation, and EVERY nation in our world that has (gasp!) opened up and (gasp!) spent more time with their families, has encountered a rise in COVID-19 cases (and both COVID-19-related disability and deaths, to boot). However, there is good news (see below). 

The more a person cannot feed him/herself, the more likely that person will want to go to work and the less likely that person will prioritize safety. COVID-19 is definitely real, and the "pandemic" concept is the stuff of conspiracies...but the question of whether our "cure" for the COVID-19 pandemic has been worse than the pandemic itself is NOT the stuff of conspiracies. 

Three truisms: 

1) If you wear your mask, wash your hands a lot, and social distance appropriately, you're probably going to be just fine. Even airplane flights have approximately a 1% chance of catching COVID-19 if everyone wears masks, because of specialized onboard ventilation systems. 

2) Take Vitamin D! A huge number of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D because they're indoors with their computer, instead of exercising and working outdoors? Both obesity and worsening of COVID-19 infections occur with low Vitamin D--it makes no difference in the risks of catching the virus, but it makes a difference if you get it. If you're reading this, and you spend most of your day indoors, you're almost certainly deficient. Take 1000-2000 international units (IU) of Vitamin D each day. 

3) More people are dying from traditional causes of death (heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer, etc.) than they are from COVID-19, because of a fear of following up with their doctor or other health care providers. Which doesn't mean you should ignore COVID-19, but you still need to not ignore your general health. 

The bottom line: Be safe, be smart, but get your rear end to work or the doctor and live your lives! Too many of us are poor and unhealthy because of an overresponse to the virus, which is as dangerous as an under response to the virus. 

But back to the economy:

1) Reuters says we've had a record economic growth of 33.1%. Whether that's a relevant fact during this election year is the stuff of debate--the recovery is incomplete, and whether Trump or Biden is the right man to lead us forward is also the stuff of debate.

2) CNN Business echoes that record economic growth rate but reports that the pandemic remains an enormous threat. 

3) The Financial Times reports that the Chinese economy expanded 4.9% in the third quarter. Considering how many on both sides of the political aisle (and throughout the world) blame China for the spread of this pandemic, and are concerned about the growing influence of China, this might seem very, very unfair. 

Hence, it's to be reminded that if an economy opens up, there will be more COVID-19 cases. 

The issues of whether we overall treat it better, whether the death rate isn't soaring like it previously was, whether it's necessary to risk the virus in order to restore our economy and quality of life, and if we can't do BOTH an opening up AND be safe from the virus is the stuff of debates. 

Denying people their basic civil rights, versus ensuring their safety, is also the stuff of debates, and they're debates that should absolutely be performed. 

But people gotta live. People gotta eat. People gotta work. Unfortunately, people gonna die (and always have). As a physician and someone who is addicted to history and science, it's my belief that we've blown it with both the prevention of the virus and our response to it (and both Democrats and Republicans alike are up to their eyeballs in blame for this).

So, we should stop blaming "the other side" because "your side" screwed up aplenty. Deal with it, or feel free to enter Your Own Personal Fantasyland", regardless of how you are using or neglecting COVID-19 to affect the election.

Because come November 4th, and come 2021, the questions surrounding the survival of the United 
States of America will remain as vital and glaring as ever.

(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 Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach and Planning Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of the MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

-cw