Physician Letter: Reopen America

Dear Vice President Pence,

We, the undersigned physicians, respectfully and urgently request that our country’s businesses and schools be allowed to reopen. 

We value every life lost to the novel virus COVID 19, but countless other people have paid an enormous toll as well.

Our patients have suffered needlessly in pain and physical decline with disease progression because of short-sighted government edicts to stop all non-emergency care that is unrelated to COVID19.  Some patients now face inevitable death because the diagnosis and treatments were delayed too long.  Too many of our patients have suffered far more from the psychological, physical, and economic effects of the shutdown of communities and businesses than the direct impact of COVID 19 itself.

The cumulative knowledge we now have of COVID 19 and the observed devastation of shutting down the economy gives us confidence to request that the American people be given the freedom to engage in commerce and community again immediately. Growing evidence indicates that the unprecedented policy of forcing healthy Americans to quarantine was not necessary to save lives but instead inflicted devastating harm on 10s of millions of people.[1] It is unnecessary to continue threatening to close businesses and prohibit gatherings of people based on case numbers or arbitrary benchmarks, especially when increased testing naturally results in an increase in the number of cases, but hospitalizations have not been overwhelming. It has become clear that COVID19 can be managed by the medical profession—We CAN treat the sick and protect the vulnerable without social and economic lockdown. 

The following concepts are based on observable fact and a healthy dose of common sense:

  1. We want to bring hope to the people of this country and restore confidence that we can safely live in community with each other again and truly live life without fear.   This virus is survivable by greater than 99% of those infected. For those under 60, the estimated infection fatality rate is 0.05%.[2]  On average, the infection fatality rate is 0.2%.[3]
  2. The overwhelming majority of those infected, perhaps 80%, have no symptoms or mild symptoms at most.[4]  We cannot know with certainty how many asymptomatic cases there are or have been.
  3. We now know that a well-defined subset of the population is vulnerable to severe illness or death by COVID 19.  Our resources should be aimed at protecting and promptly treating these persons, specifically nursing home patients, without condemning them to prolonged isolation from the love and comfort of their families and friends.
  4. The media is terrifying people, creating crippling fear that has drained the life out of our society. Suicide hotlines have been overwhelmed with calls.  Patients are suffering from medical neglect because of the dangerous media narrative instructing people to stay home when they are sick.
  5. Public Health officials and administrators have been interfering with medical decision-making. Some elected officials and state boards have prevented the use of safe and FDA approved medications in the treatment of COVID-19, an unprecedented interference with physician judgement. Physicians are also pressured to count deaths in a way that inflates the true infection fatality rate.  We cannot reassure our patients and confidently treat the sick when we are using skewed and inaccurate data.
  6. Treating this disease early will prevent hospitalizations and encourage those who are fearful.  Mounting evidence supports the use of safe, inexpensive, and readily available medicines and vitamin and mineral supplementation as well as newer treatment in development. We must do our best to use the information we have to treat patients early in the disease process.  We need not fear overwhelming the hospitals if we treat the sick early in physicians’ offices, or at patients’ homes, before they become sick enough to be hospitalized.
  7. Many, many counties have been subjected to senseless suffering due to the broad centralized approach of state governments. As of May 11, 50% of US counties have ZERO deaths, 63% (1,996) of all counties have no more than ONE death each.[5], 6 This is incredibly encouraging news for our country.  We need to allow these counties to fully function, giving them the freedom to support their neighboring communities that may be experiencing calamity.
  8. Natural widespread immunity can be achieved safely without waiting for a vaccine. Contracting mild and largely survivable diseases is a natural process of building immunity and strengthens our communities.  We have always and will continue to identify and protect the vulnerable when possible.
  9. It is imperative that the public schools be opened on schedule this fall. The educational, psychological, and social impact of sheltering at home has been devastating. Although many districts have made heroic efforts at teaching on-line, the lack of routine, isolation, and inability to effectively interact with students has been a poor substitute for the schoolroom. Children are the least susceptible to significant COVID-19 disease.
  10. Mass testing of citizens should not be used to create policy that restricts an individual’s livelihood and freedom to participate in society, and absolutely should not be used to threaten businesses and counties with repeated closure.  We oppose heavy-handed surveillance, scapegoating of individuals, and neighborhood snitch programs. This Draconian approach to dealing with a respiratory virus is detrimental and will shatter the goodwill of our society.

We have learned from this experience and are prepared to face any future contagion in an organized, efficient way without the added economic and social catastrophe that resulted from national shutdown. We will encourage and educate our patients, understanding that we are all human, and as such susceptible to infections which will occur again. In fact, living life to the fullest means living with risks and mitigating those risks in common sense ways that free us to embrace our humanity and the need to engage in community, commerce, education, and worship with our fellow citizens.We cannot accept the current dysfunction in society as the “new normal.”  Our goal is to lead with hope and courage instead of fear and confusion.  We want to help restore a renewed sense of purpose in our communities and allow people to pursue a livelihood and participate in music, sports, and art again.  Our medical professionals are ready to serve this nation according to the time-honored Hippocratic Oath that calls us to serve with respect and compassion and, above all, to do no harm.

Source: Physician Letter: Reopen America – AAPS | Association of American Physicians and Surgeons


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