Infectious disease experts and epidemiologists from universities like Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Oxford say current shelter-in-place policies are not effectively protecting vulnerable people from COVID-19, while devastating public health in ways that will lead to irreparable harm for years to come.
Dr. John Ioannidis is among a growing number of scientists who believe the current shelter-in-place orders in California continue to impose excessive and potentially harmful measures on most of the population, while failing to adopt strong enough restrictions to adequately protect those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. “
We can take even more draconian measures to protect people and locations and settings that we know at very high risk,” said Ioannidis, a Harvard-trained doctor of internal medicine, infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at Stanford University. Ioannidis believes the initial lockdown was the right approach in March, when little was known about COVID-19. Now, however, that more data is available, he is calling for more extreme protections for people who are at high risk of infection, including the elderly and those with heart disease, diabetes and pulmonary disorders. Vulnerable people, he believes, should continue to shelter in place, and anyone living or working in a high risk setting should receive weekly COVID-19 testing and careful contact tracing.
He recommends similar measures for meat packing plants, prisons and especially nursing homes, where Centers for Disease Control data shows about one-third of all deaths have occurred.
At the same time, Ioannidis is convinced that shelter in place orders are doing great harm to the rest of society. “We know that 95% of the population has practically minimal risk,” he said, adding “It's unlikely that in the current situation we are really saving lives. I think that probably we're killing people by following some of these measures for forever.” According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, 29% of Americans are avoiding or delaying medical care due to fear of catching the coronavirus.
|Dominic Battel- Dead at 38|
Dominic Battel, a 38-year-old father of two, put off going to the hospital after feeling chest pains. It was a Sunday in April and he spent the day working on his house and playing with his kids. His wife, Cortney, said Dominic was afraid if he went to the hospital he would catch the coronavirus.
"My son is six and a half and my daughter is five," said Cortney Battel, after her husband, Dominic, died at home of a heart attack. "Our lives completely changed overnight.
I’ve covered the FACT that here in Ontario heart patients have died waiting for surgeries that never took place. Then there is the huge increase in opioid deaths that have occurred across Canada since the lockdowns took place. Cancer screenings being delayed. And on and on.
“This shouldn’t have happened. He was 38 years old and our story wasn’t over,” said Cortney.
“Shortly after the shelter in place order came in, we saw a fairly significant decline in people seeking medical attention,” said Dr.Chris Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital.
Aside from delayed medical care, Dr. David Katz, a Yale-trained specialist in preventive medicine and public health, testified before Congress that prolonged shelter-in-place orders can also lead to unemployment, financial hardship, poverty, food insecurity, depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide.
Katz is one of more than 9,000 doctors and scientists who have signed the Great Barrington Declaration, a statement that calls for stronger preventive measures for vulnerable people:
Nursing home staff and visitors should receive frequent COVID testing
Staff rotation in nursing homes should be minimized
Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered at their homes, and should meet other family members outside rather than inside whenever possible
Based on the number of U.S. cases so far, Katz points out that Americans are “more likely to be injured in a car crash this year than to get COVID.” He stresses the importance of “protecting those most vulnerable to severe infection” and “phasing back to relative ‘normalcy’ those least vulnerable.”
“We have to balance everything,” counters Ioannidis. “I believe that in the current situation, prolonged lockdowns are going to do enormous harm to health and more."