Anthony Fauci, the medical professional at the eye of the coronavirus storm, has just come out and said the federal government should issue a national order for all Americans to stay home, stay inside, stay put.
Is he nuts?
Let’s rephrase: He’s nuts.
On CNN, Fauci was asked by host Anderson Cooper, “Knowing the science, does it make sense to you that some states are still not issuing stay-at-home orders? I mean, whether there should be a federally mandated directive for that or not, I guess that’s more of a political question, but just scientifically, doesn’t everybody have to be on the same page with this stuff?”
And Fauci said — yep.
“I think so,” he said, as Breitbart reported. “I don’t understand why that’s not happening. … [T]he tension between federally mandated versus states’ rights to do what they want is something I don’t want to get into. But if you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.”
Fauci said pretty much the same on a “Today Show” interview with Savannah Guthrie.
“I mean,” he said, Mediaite reported, “I know it’s difficult, but we’re having a lot of suffering, a lot of death. This is inconvenient from an economic and a personal standpoint, but we just have to do it.”
That was after the surgeon general, earlier this week, said the same.
“My advice to America would be … a national stay-at-home order,” Jerome Adams said.
States’ rights be danged.
But more than that — common sense be danged.
The question on the table is whether 4,513 deaths due to coronavirus in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands justifies closing down an entire country — its economy, schools, transportation systems, entertainment and more — for 30 days or more. Those are up-to-date Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers.
This is where comparisons help.
Also from the CDC: Between Oct. 1, 2019, and March 21, 2020, “there have been 24,000 — 62,000 flu deaths.” Web MD reported “between 3% and 11% of people in the U.S. get [Influenza A and B] each year” and “for small children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems, it can be dangerous and even deadly.”
In America, it was business as usual.
Then there’s this: “Measles Returns to California for 2020,” Web MD reported, citing “five new confirmed cases” that stemmed from “an international traveler who was not vaccinated” and “exposed four local residents.” Meanwhile, the World Health Organization reported in December of 2019, “More than 140,000 die from measles as cases surge worldwide.”
Again, business as usual for America.
“Deadly staph infections still threaten the U.S.,” CDC wrote in March of 2019. The agency went on to write that “more than 119,000 people suffered from bloodstream [staph] infection in the United States in 2017 — and nearly 20,000 died.”
America stayed at work.
America didn’t shut down.
And America’s hospitals, one of the primary places of staph infections, certainly didn’t close doors.
These are all examples of infectious diseases America has weathered, and continues to weather — all the while doing business, going to school, eating at restaurants, working out in gyms, etc. These are all examples of infectious diseases that have left tens of thousands sick; tens of thousands dead; tens of thousands sick and dead in very short periods of time.
Yet America didn’t shut down and stay home. There were no runs on face masks. So what’s up with Fauci? What’s up with the surgeon general?
Fauci is a medical professional — so, too, is Adams. They’re both looking at the coronavirus from a single lens: health of the patient.
That’s what doctors do. They look at patients and decide what’s best for the patient’s health.
That’s why a lot of people don’t even go to the doctor when they’re sick — because they know the doctor is going to prescribe some medical treatment that’s above and beyond what seems common sense. Not all headaches need CAT scans, right? Not all coughs warrant chest X-rays.
So when Fauci calls for a national order to keep every man, woman and child in America at home, behind closed doors, for the next 30 days or longer, he’s only suggesting the best course of action that, in his medical opinion, would keep his patients — whom he’s deemed to be all of America — safe and healthy, free of risks of catching the coronavirus.
But that doesn’t mean he’s right. That doesn’t mean his medical opinion ought to be taken as sacrosanct; all the other considerations — economic, political, social — tossed to the side as secondaries.
Americans are not lab rats, and America is not a science lab.
The country can’t come to a grinding halt every time flu season approaches.
Because mark these words: If we do it once, we’ll be doing it again.
This season’s coronavirus will be next season’s something else. America — Americans — can’t stay inside and hide from sickness indefinitely. Not even if that’s what the doctor ordered.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.