Oklahoma City ran out of Intensive Care Unit beds on Tuesday as Oklahoma reached its highest seven-day average since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. And as this city grapples with increased caseload and the prospect of greater surges in fall, the Trump administration is adopting a “herd immunity” policy regarding COVID-19.
On a Monday conference call, White House officials briefed reporters on its latest embrace of dangerous quackery, an online movement calling itself the “Great Barrington Declaration.” Under this declaration, the title of which sounds like Libertarian physicians in gartered sleeves and powdered wigs waving Gadsden flags in an ICU, the nations of the world will adopt herd immunity as public health policy and practice what they call “focused protection.”
“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk,” the declaration reads. “We call this Focused Protection.”
The idea is to let everyone run wild and run free — screw the masks, it’s party time — while those at greatest risk of death from coronavirus live in captivity. This will allow the doorknob-licking masses the chance to test Charles Darwin’s theory on the survival of the fittest.
Opinion by George D. Lang
Most sane epidemiologists agree that 50 to 70 percent of U.S. citizens would need to be immune to the virus for herd immunity to take hold, and that it can take years to achieve. The Great Barrington Declaration reads that this goal of immunity “can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine.” But implicit in this strategy is the acceptance among the GBD signatories of an acceptable level of death.
Yes, an acceptable level of death.
This is what is being adopted by the White House under the advice of Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who joined Trump’s administration as an adviser to the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Most estimates of the U.S. body count from this policy start at 2.3 million deaths and rise as high as 6 million. Trump is cool with a few million of us dying, but if you read the news and have absorbed his policies from a holistic standpoint, you already know that.
Atlas is a member of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, which was started by alumnus Herbert Hoover in 1919, nine years before he was elected President of the United States, presided over the worst economic collapse in American history and took a laissez faire approach to dealing with that cratered economy. In this tradition, Atlas is the Herbert Hoover of the coronavirus pandemic.
As a think tank dweller, Atlas aggressively supports elimination of the Affordable Care Act, which is why Trump embraces him like a full bucket of KFC. When it comes to prescribing preventative measures like wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Atlas shrugs.
Atlas’ opinion is not even close to mainstream thought on epidemiology. On Wednesday, 80 researchers working in epidemiology, public health, virology and other related fields signed a letter published in the British medical journal The Lancet, warned that herd immunity is a “dangerous fallacy unsupported by the scientific evidence.”
In that same letter, the researchers lower the boom on the Great Barrington revolutionaries, writing “there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection, and the endemic transmission that would be the consequence of waning immunity would present a risk to vulnerable populations for the indefinite future.”
In other words, Atlas and his “Don’t Tread on Me” brethren in the Great Barrington Declaration are basing their plan of “focused protection” on an assumption of immunity when there is no medical evidence yet of this occurring with COVID-19.
But what is not addressed by Atlas or anyone else in the Trump Administration is the catastrophe awaiting our nation’s hospitals.
Oklahoma City’s hospital systems are already overwhelmed. What happens to these facilities and their doctors and other professionals when Trump’s herd immunity policy results in exponential numbers of cases and deaths?
And as all this is happening, Gov. Kevin Stitt is still not mandating masks in Oklahoma, even when the current state of ICUs was supposed to flip a switch on state action regarding COVID-19 spread. But as an avid Trump acolyte, Stitt likely sees herd immunity as a politically expedient way to not deal with the pandemic.
Stitt can go out with his open mouth exposed, pose maskless with his family in crowded food courts and even merrily shoot wild animals in the time he might have spent worrying about COVID. Thanks to Trump, Atlas, the Great Barrington Declaration and the dim idiots at Fox News, Stitt does not have to worry about the sick and dying of his Top 10 state. He’s got herd immunity on his side.