September 14, 2020

Pants afire

Today is a tough one and I don’t have a lot of resilience myself. Sometimes it is that way for all of us. The smoke here has not dissipated like we hoped and I spent the day wrestling with a switch in our Electronic Medical Record system, always stressful.

My alarm over the manipulation of data by our government has been building. Last week, of course, we heard from Bob Woodward that the president downplayed the dangers of SARS-CoV-2 so “we wouldn’t panic”, as alarm grew among scientists and physicians. Then, I read about the Coronavirus Task Force not sharing reports on coronavirus infections that could have helped each state reduce infections and deaths. These withheld reports show that the president and his people downplayed the risks of COVID-19, allowing thousands more infections and deaths.

These acts were felt to be so egregious that the very respected, peer reviewed journal Science wrote an editorial decrying the president’s lies about science, calling them shameful and dangerous.

Then I read about a political appointee, who is not a scientist or a health care worker, who was allowed to interfere with the MMWR and other reports from the CDC, to have the reports align with the words of the president. This is unconscionable. The MMWR or the “Morbidity and Mortality Report” is an epidemiological digest published weekly that aggregates data and is relied on by public health officials. It can often be the first sign of a new issue arising, like the first, little noticed report, in June 1981 of a cluster of a rare pneumonia in young, previously healthy men, the first rumblings of the AIDS epidemic. The MMWR covers things such as tobacco risks, increase in obesity or diabetes, and epidemiology. We have relied on it for unbiased reporting based on facts and science for decades.

This will harm the integrity of that agency for the foreseeable future. Adding to further damage, that appointee has now accused CDC workers of conspiracy, with no evidence beyond the fact that the COVID-19 data does not support the rosy picture his boss wants to paint. I am beyond words, or at least polite ones.

This is not about politics. Your political beliefs should not matter. What is happening is dangerous and deadly. These are clearly lies and manipulation to help the president win re-election. It is propaganda- pure and simple. Already excess deaths in the US exceed the number of counted COVID-19 deaths, other sites support these findings. Are we willing to stand for 200,000 more deaths by the end of the year as projected by IHME? What have we become? Please write your Senators and Representatives, demand that we preserve the integrity of these institutions that are life saving rather than allow these people to let SARS-CoV2 threaten the health of more people. Register to vote and vote, early or by mail if possible. So much is at stake, including our integrity as a nation and our own.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and fight for the truth.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/disastrous-why-its-so-damaging-for-trump-admin-to-doctor-the-cdcs-covid-reports

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/as-trump-played-down-virus-health-experts-alarm-grew/

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/09/11/science.abe7391

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/11/exclusive-trump-officials-interfered-with-cdc-reports-on-covid-19-412809

https://publicintegrity.org/health/coronavirus-and-inequality/analysis-dont-quarantine-coronavirus-data/

https://publicintegrity.org/health/coronavirus-and-inequality/house-coronavirus-reports-trump-denial/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/12/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-politics-cdc.html

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morbidity_and_Mortality_Weekly_Report

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/14/us/politics/caputo-virus.html

https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/09/01/comorbidities-and-coronavirus-deaths-cdc/

https://covidtracking.com

https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america