‘Feel Good’ Lockdowns Won't Make Us Feel Good ... or Fix the Problem

LEANING RIGHT--It's as if our so-called "leaders" and "experts" have only one tool to work with--a hammer--and to them the whole world is one big nail.

Which begs the question: we're already somewhat locked down, and have been locked down, so are these "leaders" and "experts" going to fix the surge in COVID-19 cases, or just make us all think that "at least they're doing something".

To start, and for those who don't remember when I've brought this up in my other pieces, I am no conspiracy-theory physician. I am moderate to conservative in my outlook, as are probably most physicians, but I am no anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, nor pro-hoaxer when it comes to this virus.

So to my patients, either conservative (there are many!) or liberal (also many!) who don't believe in real science (not just some show-boating, over-paid "expert" who think he/she knows everything), and who ask me my opinion on how to survive the virus, it's rather simple:

1) Social distancing, hand-washing, and gloves whenever you might be in contact with someone are critical--just like doctors and nurses have to wear gloves and PRESUME their patients have HIV or Hepatitis B or C--we all have to PRESUME that strangers we don't quarantine with have COVID-19 until proven otherwise.

2) COVID-19 testing is still too long and without reliable results to know who doesn't or does have it, and the virus is spread the most in its earliest phases...so many of YOU reading this might have COVID-19 and just don't know it.

3) Masks help protect you from others, but predominantly protect others from YOU. Face shields help protect you from OTHERS. When both parties wear a mask and stay apart, an interaction is very unlikely to pass the virus.

4) All over the world, lock-downs are followed by slow returns to normal, and with slow or rapid increases to a situation where lock-downs must again occur. Lock-downs don't "fix" anything long-term.

5) So the only way to "fix the problem" is a vaccine--you don't have to like President Trump, but the two vaccines soon available by his Operation Warpspeed (and which have excellent track records to date) will be the only way to get over this. (You don't have to like President-Elect Biden, but his "Operation Moonshot Over Cancer" wasn't a bad thing, was it?)

Other vaccines will be available, and some of us won't get it soon (and won't want it soon until more time has passed to prove safety), but you BETTER get it sooner or later over the course of 2021-22 unless you want to do the quarantine/mask thing forever.

6) "Herd immunity" might have worked had we isolated groups of young people (less than 30-35) for 2-3 weeks and immunized them in large overall populations with natural infection and recovery, but that ship has LONG AGO SAILED. Younger folks going to parties are NOT making a point to separate themselves from older family members and neighbors. So, forget this option.

7) Masks absolutely SUCK, but so does infection with COVID-19 in people 40-50 years of age or older, who too often die (especially if one is overweight...and we have an obesity problem, right???) or just remain weakened or disabled for months (maybe forever).

So, let's get something straight: Lock-downs are being inappropriately used, often with an "agenda" by people getting PAID over people who are LOSING THEIR INCOME AND LIVELIHOOD.

Sedentary lock-down lifestyles are DANGEROUS and with significant health risks, even over two weeks. At times, however, they are necessary. 

And also dangerous: the huge number of people dying because of their failure to treat their heart disease, cancer, autoimmune/chronic inflammatory conditions, diabetes, etc.

So enter the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases leading to hospitalization or death, and without any defined description of why it's occurring, how full the hospitals were before the surge because it was merely winter (and therefore not much was needed to put hospitals into crisis mode because of lack of available beds), or WHO is coming down with it now!!!

Things have changed for the WORSE, because unlike summer the infections were going up in different states at different times, but the death rates were going down. That is not necessarily true now. So, what gives...is it time for us all to lock-down again?

1) In some places, we have no choice, because the surge is explosive...but let's not forget that beaches, protests, large private parties, indoor/unventilated places of worship, gyms and salons not obeying the rules, have ruined it for everyone. But let's be honest with the hypocrisy:

Those claiming it was OK for the large summer protests against racism and police brutality, while saying that others should not sing in church or go to restaurants, RUINED our former collective unity in March and April. Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned these protests as the perfect setup for COVID-19 spread and described what we all know: protesting and going to church is FINE...but NOT in large, clustered crowds. NO large crowd is safe, for any cause, during a pandemic.

2) Los Angeles locking down, and without any Thanksgiving or Christmas get-togethers either allowed or encouraged. Too bad that Citywide Zoom or internet infrastructure wasn't built to accommodate this for families who want desperately to stay in touch.

3) Local and state politicians have ruined their credibility by breaking their own rules and are still getting paid while others are getting ruthlessly separated from their income to survive.

Governor Newsom should have forfeited his pay for a month or longer for his bad example of attending a large, close and relatively crowded political dinner--how many Californians stopped doing the right thing because of his actions?

Then along came San Francisco's mayor, London Breed to do the same thing (at the same location!) the night after Newsom did it. 

Enter County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who did the outdoor dining she decried hours before and which now has encouraged many a weary Southern Californian to just NOT BELIEVE what their government is telling them to do and sacrifice.

4) So, when Governor Newsom warns of a stay-at-home order the response was (to summarize): screw you, Governor!

5) At least Beverly Hills has voted to oppose the outdoor dining ban which has virtually NO proof of causing any spread of the virus if proper distancing and masking/shielding occurs. 

Until we learn to separate the proven from the unproven, and until we learn WHO is now coming in mass numbers into our hospitals, and until we learn where they got it from (was it Thanksgiving gatherings, or not?), any speculation on what to do is impossible to truly know.

And lock-downs will either NOT work (because the hypocrisy and lack of true science being witnessed by our now-mistrusting population is so glaring), or will NOT be implemented effectively, and/or not be performed at all.

Lock-downs are still too often as a "feel-good measure" by an idiot politician (not following his/her own rules), claiming it's science (when he/she doesn't really know anything), and without performing in a manner that doesn't destroy our economy and ability to eat, pay our bills and live.

Hate him or not, President Trump has done his job for four years without pay. Maybe if Gavin Newsom, Sheila Kuehl, Eric Garcetti, London Breed, and all these chuckleheads and fellow "experts" did their jobs for free, or with a small salary that is minimal at best, these new lock-downs will work. 

Until then, just expect heat, and not light, to rule the day in a furious California.


(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, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees. 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.)