Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 5 - Page 29

NEITHER PROTECTING NOR SERVING AUTHOR Mary Barry , MD

DOCTORS ' LOUNGE

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NEITHER PROTECTING NOR SERVING AUTHOR Mary Barry , MD

COVID-19 has changed nearly all of us , except for those hellbent on resistance to scientific guidance . They remain stuck in an alternate reality involving horse dewormer as treatment and ignorance as prevention . Our recent Kentucky special legislative session was a sad political exercise , pandering to those who screech about their freedom to ignore public health advice . The majority party sued so they could boss the governor around , then abdicated their responsibility . Instead of proclaiming universal mask mandates to protect our children and teachers , they put local school boards on the hot seat . They limited remote learning days . As a result , hundreds of teachers and even more students worked in classrooms with unmasked , unvaccinated children and adults . Hart County ’ s 2020 Teacher of the Year , Ms . Amanda Nutt , died of COVID-19 this week . In mid -September , a teacher and a custodian at a Lee County elementary school both succumbed . Lee County had started the new school year without a mask mandate . On Sept . 15 , after both deaths , its school board voted unanimously to reinstate it .

Baptist Health Lexington epidemiologist Dr . Mark Dougherty , in a Spectrum News story of Sept . 15 1 , noted that across the state , unvaccinated school workers are filling our hospitals ( teachers , bus drivers , etc .) and he expects it to get worse . At least 70 % of Kentucky school districts have continued the mask mandate as of now , and I hope more will have seen the light by the time you read this . Even the vaccinated can get sick and die from this delta variant ( deaths of the vaccinated account for about 0.1 % overall ). Our legislative leaders demanded independent control but delivered no independent moral authority . They chose to elevate self-direction over proven science , and denial over death statistics .
Compare New Zealand ’ s stats with ours in the US : in a country with a determined leader who enforced island isolation and strict lockdowns , pushed vaccination and weathered all criticism to hold her course , only 3,981 New Zealanders got COVID-19 , and only 27 have died , total . Total ! Here at home , 1 in 500 Americans have died of this disease , with almost 42 million cases and nearing 670,000 deaths . Our death rate jumped up by 40 % just in the first two weeks of September . At this writing , 2,000 Americans are dying of COVID-19 every day .
Kentucky alone , with a 2020 census around 4.5 million , has had 635,000 people test positive ( now that we have home tests , which go unreported , that number is surely much higher ) and around 8,100 Kentuckians have died . New Zealand numbers 5.12 million people - very close in size to our state - yet only 27 deaths . Now that ’ s leadership .
The Kentucky Hospital Association was also disappointed that the special session did not set aside funds devoted solely to helping with skilled staff shortages . Instead , they voted in a measure to allow paramedics to work in hospitals and funded testing campaigns , monoclonal antibody treatment and vaccination campaigns .
Over half of US state legislatures have acted exactly as ours , taking steps to limit the public health powers of not just the executive branch , but of the departments of public health as well .
Lauren Weber and Anna Maria Barry-Jester , writing on Sept . 15 for Kaiser Health News in a story taken up by multiple news
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