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Constitutional Conundrum

Americans are weary. We are a hardy people, rugged and able to take on extraordinary tasks. America was born out of man's desire for freedom, liberty, and justice. It took great strength to move through a birthing process that left many of our founding citizens dead, injured, and maimed for life. Here we are making our way in today's world. We can travel vast distances in hours instead of weeks. We can communicate in seconds as opposed to days. People share information on an internet platform that is uncensored to the truth.

The idea of free speech, (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.) had noble intent as did many of the ideas put forth by our founding fathers. Their honor was as immense a part of their character as the need for them to speak the truth. The notion of truth has degenerated into the idea that anyone can say anything on any platform at any time, regardless of its validity or effects on others.

The founding Fathers had the most virtue to pursue the common good. The virtue I am referring to is not the pious duplicitous Evangelical Christian ideology that provides a religious infrastructure for a large segment of the American electorate; the virtue I am referring to is the ability to attain one's goals. The Common Good is the foundation for having any republic, and it remains the sole foundational pillar of our American Republic.

Americans are weary of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the constant, unrelenting episodes of violence against the disenfranchised, the attacks by the few conservative political elitists on our expansion of voting rights, and the irreparable emotional damage caused by the demonization of immigrants, and people of ethnic descent. White Christian Nationalists are panicked over the possibility that the country's demographics have changed enough to move the needle towards governance by a more pluralistic representation from our communities' citizenry seeking to elevate their economic and educational standing. 

I witness profound anxiety every day in my patient population. I hear the concerns of a group of patients who told me that COVID-19 was a hoax and that it would disappear after the November 5th election. Those same individuals are experiencing the horror of family members succumbing to the virulence of the coronavirus first hand. Many are saying, "It's real" for the first time as if they were locked in a storm shelter for the last eight or nine months. Some still believe their freedoms are being challenged by wearing a mask in public and private places.

I review COVID-19 statistics every morning: one hundred ninety-nine thousand new cases yesterday and roughly two thousand deaths. Every minute, someone dies of COVID-19 in the United States; our defiant, self-serving Populus is not serving the common good by any measure. The Federal and State governments cannot stop the spread of COVID-19; only each individual can.

If anyone reading this blog thinks that the recent two vaccine candidates are the cavalry coming to save the day, think again. Think again hard as if your life depended on it because it does. A two-shot vaccine that must be frozen to 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit will probably be much less effective than its scientifically controlled study results in the real world. The real-world success of a vaccine is commonly referred to as effectiveness. Vaccine studies data success before real-world release is efficacy. The two terms are being used interchangeably in media and press releases, perhaps due to ignorance. The efficacy of a drug or vaccine in phase three trials is hardly ever enjoyed in the public when the FDA releases the vaccine or medication for use. The first Polio vaccine was a bust. The FDA pulled several other vaccines from the market due to adverse side effects not identified in phase two and three trials.

Even if these two vaccines are excellent, they will not be ready for mass administration for months. There are not enough industrial, commercial freezers available to store the vaccines safely. The Shelby County Health Department and the area hospitals do not own freezers with this capacity, much less physician offices. There is the dry-ice container alternate proposal for storing the vaccine. The practicality of the idea is almost absurd. Anyone investing in dry-ice manufacturing? I suppose the cost for dry-ice will skyrocket, just like N-95 masks. Someone will be making extreme profits in a time of desperation. I know supply-demand economics; it is the American way.

Suppose the hospitals and educational institutions require vaccination to work or study in their institutions. In that case, they must also provide alternative solutions to those who, for whatever reason, refuse or cannot take the vaccine. You guessed it: they have to wear a mask. Back to the mask issue, freedom to choose. Vaccine or mask? Does that make wearing a mask more appealing? More likely, hospital workers will probably be required to wear a mask even if they get one of the two vaccines since neither vaccine candidate is one hundred percent efficacious. It is unlikely either of them will be 100% effective either. So, we are back to the mask.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I will be spending it with my wife and daughter; a small gathering, a simple meal, and a safe environment for all. We will put on our masks for grocery shopping and running general errands. We will have them off to eat and commune in private. If you are going to attend a super-spreader Thanksgiving event, please wear a mask, keep your distance and pray the night before and the day after that you do not get infected or infect others. God created the virus for a reason; perhaps you could prove to God that you use the critical thinking he graced you with when you were born. 

Then again, maybe not. It's your Constitutional right to freedom and your Constitutional duty to act for our citizens' greater good; a Constitutional conundrum of the first order.

What will you do?

Doc

Posted by Caitlin Chittom at 8:28 AM
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