Admit It: No One Has a Long-Range Plan for Dealing with the Pandemic

LEANING RIGHT--If you want to vote for Joe Biden or Donald Trump, then vote for your guy.

If you want to have Kamala Harris or Mike Pence on deck, then vote for that person as well. But that has NOTHING, unless you're a political hack or a damned fool, to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And that's Dr. Alpern to you.  

I may be "just a dermatologist" to those who don't know our role in infectious disease, but I am one of those who deal with skin disease and infections because of masks (you still gotta wear your mask, dammit!), but I am also one of those who deals with the horrific skin, respiratory, and sinus diseases related to allergies because of masks, and all the other untreated diseases we see right now. 

I am tired of seeing people die not only of COVID-19 (when it's bad, it can get REALLY bad!), but also of untreated heart disease, untreated diabetes, untreated cancer, etc. And you can hate on this information, and hate on me all you want, but it's folks like ME who the people see when they're sick, and I assure you there are millions who are NOT getting treated and either suffering or dying. 

Perhaps the new phrase "At least I didn't die of COVID-19" on a person's tombstone will be the new vogue. 

Because Americans and people all over the globe are suffering or even dying in huge numbers--and they're not dying because of Donald Trump or Joe Biden, as much as any braying jackass wants to adhere to all that. 

Fact #1--Deal with it: The CDC reports the majority of those getting infected with COVID-19 either wore masks a lot or wore them almost always when they needed to. That's an inconvenient truth, but it's still the truth. 

Fact #2--Deal with it: The WHO (who've got a lot of explaining to do as to why they didn't warn about the virus earlier) has leadership stating that lockdowns are NOT the primary way to stop the COVID-19 virus. 

The lockdowns we had for two weeks to "flatten the curve" made sense. 

Working like hell to come up with vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 makes sense. 

Locking down and spending trillions of dollars we don't have, however, makes no sense. 

Destroying the physical and mental health of Americans and world citizens all over makes no sense. 

So as someone who NEVER shut down his clinic, and still promotes the message of "get on your masks, stay away from others, wash your hands, and GET YOUR ASS TO WORK!" let me suggest a few things: 

1) If you're getting income, and ignoring or dismissing those who've had their income yanked away from them, then please consider that NO ONE should take your opinion seriously...unless, of course, you've given away, or are willing to give away, HALF OF YOUR INCOME TO THOSE WHO'VE LOST THEIRS. 

2) Sweden may not be correct with "herd immunity" but there are elements we need to consider. A few of us are at risk--serious risk--and must be protected, but shall we destroy the lives of the majority who must live their lives to protect a few. And NO, I don't want anyone to die of COVID-19. 

3) Isn't "the perfect the enemy of the good"? And are the trillions we're paying ourselves with virtually non-existent money really fixing our ability to move on past this pandemic, if "MOVE ON PAST THIS PANDEMIC" is something we want to do? 

4) Do we want to have a plan, or do we want to tread water? Because Mother Nature's a real bitch, and cruel as all hell, and she demands a plan where some die to allow the majority to live. I do NOT want that, and I am hoping NO ONE will die from COVID-19, but the reality is that people die.  

5) Life is fatal, and if YOU want to ignore the lives destroyed and the unmet health needs staying unmet, and people dying at home of untreated heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, infections, and--yes--mental illness, then fine. I do NOT want to ignore all that. 

Again, I treat the ones with bodywide rashes and stress-related itching and skin eruptions because I don't want them to go to the more dangerous emergency rooms and urgent visits.  

I am the one who treats the mammoth-sized skin infections and tumors because people blew off seeing me for 3-6 months as they cowered at home with fear, and who treats other non-skin conditions because they've cut off ties from their primary care providers. 

If we all want to ignore a real answer, then the lockdowns again and again and again (like Europe and the rest of the world) will lead to economic and civic chaos. Only the U.S. and China are fighting to keep their economies alive, and only those two entities, and perhaps Sweden, will have a chance of getting through all this. 

So, for all of you who would rather blame our governor or president (and EVERYONE could have done better, and/or must do better), consider the following: 

1) Two three-week camps of younger children staying away from elderly at-risk individuals to build herd immunity is NOT a bad idea. 

2) Demanding schools have facilities where older teachers are separated from their students was always part of the equation. Just because any of you reading this don't really, REALLY consider how children and teenagers are suffering doesn't mean the rest of us have to be as heartless and short-sighted as you. 

3) Those who've been ripped away from their jobs should have been given lower-wage-but-vital jobs in a public works program. People need income, and people need purpose, and people need to find a way to move on. Giving people money to stay at home is stupid, and rather cruel...and ditto for demanding that law-abiding restaurants and salons and gyms being unfairly and needlessly closed. 

4) Lockdowns are for us to keep things under control, and not to keep things going as a way of life for months or even years. Because the virus will always start showing up when lockdowns end--keeping out COVID-19 forever is like keeping out oxygen...it's impossible. 

You can certainly critique President Trump for misstatements and missteps. Ditto for China (who probably is more guilty of letting people die than we'll ever know or believe). But only the U.S. and China are having a chance of surviving economically. 

People die and are dying of both COVID-19 and of other illnesses (the latter at a much more phenomenal rate). I've not heard Joe Biden say ANYTHING of his own "Marshall Plan" to deal with the pandemic, and his staying away from everyone makes me wonder if HE is prepared to lead.  

And ditto for the President with respect to a 3- or 4-point plan. 

Treading water is NO long-term plan for anyone for any crisis. And at best we're just treading water. 

We are at war with a virus. We need a Marshall Plan to get over this pandemic, and beyond this pandemic. 

And oh, yes. people will die. People die whenever there is a pandemic. 

But they die more when they let the rest of the world go to hell as the world locks down forever and chooses not to confront and defeat this pandemic.


(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 [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)