Tag Archives: public health

Many thanks, Dr. Fauci

Just got word of what many of us expected all along: Anthony Fauci is going to retire from a several-decades-long career in public service.

To which I want to offer the good doctor a heartfelt expression of thanks and gratitude for all he has done to help protect us against infectious disease.

Fauci, of course, became the face of medical awareness during the COVID-19 pandemic that spanned two administrations, from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. He is the nation’s — if not the world’s — leading expert on infectious disease. He spoke the truth to us when he had the answers to a disease that was killing thousands of Americans daily. When he didn’t know the answers, he had the guts to say so.

Oh, but the man who served as President Biden’s senior medical adviser, had to endure the defamatory criticism that came from the far-right wing of our political life. They didn’t trust him. They bristled at mask mandates, at calls for social distancing, at government telling citizens what they needed to protect themselves and others from a killer virus. He even had to endure the undermining of his public statements that came from Donald J. Trump, who hired him to manage our pandemic response.

Fauci served through several administrations, going back to the time of Ronald Reagan. He served with honor and with dedication to the practice of medicine and public health.

Fauci said he will leave in December. Presumably he will head toward a private life with his wife and family.

The man has earned some time off.

As the saying goes to those who have devoted their life to the cause of serving the public … thank you for your service, doc.


‘Public health’: all-inclusive

Let’s visit the term “public health” for a moment.

The way I understand the term, it refers to the health and well-being of an entire community, a city, state, nation. That means everyone, as in the public!

Thus, when a government entity issues an order that seeks to protect the public’s health, I harbor no reticence about following that order. It means that those who represent us are trying to protect us. As in you and me.

I keep hearing this mantra about “personal choice” regarding whether we should be required to wear masks outside of our home. The woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner spoke to that issue this morning on “The View.” Jenner said it is her “choice” to wear a mask, or to maintain social distance, or to get a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.

Umm. No. It isn’t just an individual’s choice. Not when the illness that the individual might contract affects others around them. Thus, the public’s health becomes paramount in this discussion.

President Biden is issuing orders left and right to businesses, to those who work for the federal government and others. He wants them to mask up. He requires them to get vaccinated against a virus that is still killing Americans daily.

I am going to stand with those who want to protect me against a virus that could kill me. Is it any sweat off my back to mask up? Hell no! It isn’t!

As for the vaccine. I intend to line up as soon as possible to get the booster the feds have approved.


Public health goes partisan

Did you ever think an issue concerning public health would cross into the realm of partisan politics?

If you answered “no,” then I venture to presume you’re in good company. Neither did I, nor I am reckoning did many of the nation’s public health or leading political figures.

But … here we are.

Governors around the country are pulling back on their reopening measures in the wake of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in their states. They have empowered local officials to enact stricter regulations for citizens to follow.

The reaction from many Americans has been jaw-dropping. I see news reports of residents yammering about losing their rights as citizens, how the government has become tyrannical in their mandates, orders and edicts.

One dipsh** in Florida said that he has the right to act using his own “intelligence” in response to the pandemic. Oh, really? That means he is “intelligent” enough to infect his neighbors, his family members and even total strangers if he decides against wearing a mask or refuses to maintain social distancing.

The term “public health” by definition means we are dealing with matters that involve everyone. The public. Strangers. Our neighbors.

We are in the midst of a public health crisis. When a governor issues an order to wear a mask, he or she is doing so to mitigate the damage being done by the disease the nation is fighting to control and to eliminate.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has joined the growing chorus of governors to issue stricter rules and regulations. He has been getting beaten up over the tardiness of his order. I won’t go there, except to say I am glad he has awakened to the crisis and has broken away from the policies being touted by other Republican politicians, starting with Donald Trump. 

Public health requires everyone to climb aboard the same wagon, or so one would have presumed. Then again, we live in the most polarized moment in recent memory. If only we could set aside our partisan differences in pursuit of a sound public health policy.

Public health vs. the economy

It’s worth wondering out loud what I think can become a serious conflict among state and local leaders and the president of the United States.

Donald Trump says he is considering lifting the lid on Americans’ activity, to “reopen the economy” while a coronavirus pandemic is killing human beings all around the world.

In the meantime, governors and county officials across the land have imposed shelter in place rules, or have shut down their states and counties. Why? They are motivated by a desire to keep people apart, to enforce “social distancing.”

The governors and other local folks are placing the public health at the top of their priority list. Donald Trump appears to be placing the economy at the top of his list. The president said that a floundering economy will cost even more lives than the pandemic, that people will “commit suicide” by “the thousands” as their nest eggs are smashed to smithereens. Really, Mr. President? That is what passes for your “logic” on this matter?

My goodness. The president, to borrow a phrase my late mother used to say, is “nuttier than a fruitcake.” 

He’s also dangerous.

My hope would be that governors that have shut their states down would ignore the president’s idiotic rant about the economy. That they would listen to their own medical advisers. That they would continue to place the public health ahead of the economy.

My strongest hope yet, indeed, would be that those governors who are well-known supporters of Donald Trump would stand firm against the moronic rants of the president.

That would be you, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Americans love freedom, but …

A growing battle over mandatory vaccinations for public school children is turning into a culture war of sorts.

Libertarian-leaning Republicans suggest that requiring vaccinations against communicable diseases impinges on parental rights to choose whether their children should be vaccinated. The main medical enemy is measles.


Have those who contend the issue is choice actually considered some of the consequences of their request for greater latitude on this matter?

The Washington Post editorial takes aim at U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., for their irresponsible comments regarding vaccinations.

They both should know better than to mutter what they’ve said about the subject.

Especially, Dr. Paul, an ophthalmologist by training. As a medical doctor, he ought to be acutely sensitive to the value of vaccines as guardians of the public health. But he isn’t. He’s instead a politician pandering to one of the bases of his party in his budding quest to win the Republican Party nomination for president of the United States in 2016.

As the Post opined: “Both the governor and senator seem to be suggesting that it is fine for parents to avoid vaccinations for their children. But is this really a matter of individual rights? Liberty does not confer the right to endanger others — whether at a school or Disneyland or anywhere else.”

Measles cases are on the increase, endangering children and those who come in contact with them. Protecting the public health ought to be one of those areas where government involvement shouldn’t be challenged.

Sadly, it is being challenged by politicians who should know better.


Now it's vaccines that divide the parties


It’s official. There is no limit at all to the categories of issues that divide Republicans and Democrats.

The issue today is childhood vaccines. Yep. Believe it. Republicans are now raising the issue of whether parents deserve some choice in whether their to vaccinate their children against diseases deemed infectious and a hazard to public health.


At no time rearing our two now-grown sons did my wife and I ever — not a single time — wonder whether we should forgo a mandatory childhood vaccine in order to, say, enroll our boys in public school. Yes, the issue has percolated for decades, but in our household we never got all hot and bothered over whether the school system where our kids would enroll required such vaccines.

But here we go. A presidential campaign is just around the corner and one of the potential GOP candidates, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is making an issue of the vaccines.

Likely Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton posted a tweet that lays it out clearly: “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and . Let’s protect all our kids.”

Goodness, gracious. The vaccines protect our children against some serious infectious diseases. You’ve heard of how measles can cause blindness; chicken pox produces lifelong cells that lead to shingles later in life; mumps, pertussis and all manner of fevers can be fatal.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another Republican thinking of running for president, walked back a statement in which he said parents should have the choice.

The vaccine issue flares up from time to time — kind of like a toddler’s fever. How about icing this one down and recognize the value that mandatory vaccines bring in protecting our children and inoculating the public against these serious diseases?


Ebola has not arrived

We can stop making Ebola quips, jokes and puns now.

For several hours this afternoon and evening, thousands of Amarillo-area residents were on the edge of their seats awaiting word about a patient who had checked into the emergency room at one of the city’s two acute-care hospitals.

The word went out that the ER at Baptist-St. Anthony’s Hospital had locked down. Why? Medical personnel thought they might be treating someone who had shown symptoms of the deadly disease that is originating in West Africa.


It’s been confirmed that the patient does not have Ebola, nor had even been in Africa.

The lockdown has been lifted; ER personnel have been allowed to leave. The patient, I presume, is going to recover fully from whatever it is that caused all the uproar.

These stories tend to drive me just a tiny bit insane. My first reaction when I heard the news was unkind toward the TV stations that were blabbing that someone exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms had shown up at BSA. “If this story is bogus and doesn’t pan out, the stations should be ashamed,” I blurted out to someone at work.

Then my more cautious angel began whispering into my ear. “Yes, but the ER was locked down and that, by itself, is news,” the angel told me. “The media had an obligation to explain the reason for the lockdown,” the angel said.

OK, I get it now. I’m a media guy myself and I understand the rules of the game.

We’d better prepare ourselves for more of this type of mini-hysteria until someone finds a way to stop this disease’s deadly path of destruction.

I’m guessing there’ll be more of these kinds of cases.

So let’s stop cracking wise about Ebola. None of it is funny.