It’s time to reopen


Dr. Anthony Fauci, current director of the CDC’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), plays a lead role in formulating CDC COVID-19 guidelines for states and municipalities.

On Jan. 21, 2020 Fauci stated, “…this (coronavirus) is not a major threat to the people of the United States and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about” (Boston Herald, 4-13-20).

On Jan. 26, 2020. Fauci reiterated, “The American people should not be worried or frightened by this.  It’s a very, very low risk to the United States, but it’s something we, as public health officials, need to take very seriously” (The Hill, 1-26-20).

In his recent Senate testimony, May 12, 2020, Fauci sounded a far more cautious warning about opening up businesses and schools, and suggested that the CDC could be pressed into issuing additional highly-restrictive social interaction guidelines extending into the fall and beyond. 

Between those two Fauci bookends, 36.5 million jobs have vaporized.  Small businesses across the country have been crushed, with 7.5 million at risk of shuttering permanently – their owners left with gut-wrenching financial losses.  State and local government balance sheets have been hammered.  The Federal government budget is a complete blow-out, and on a Net Present Value (NPV) basis, the debt is beyond containment.  To top it all off, we now have a growing mental health crisis in the U.S. – largely related to our COVID-19 lockdowns.

Government officials in many states are acting as though CDC guidelines have given them the power to annul the U.S. Constitution.  Legal commercial activity is now being criminalized.  Fundamental freedoms protecting free speech, religious freedom, and the right to peaceably assemble are being routinely abrogated.  A case in point: the governor of New Jersey, by executive fiat, has ordered that churches be closed, while abortion clinics are allowed to remain open. Texas has jailed a salon owner for opening up her business, while at the same time releasing criminal felons from their jails to protect them from COVID-19. 

Thank heavens, South Dakota has not “gone off the deep end” on these matters.

In recent weeks, valuable raw data and factual clarities have emerged that should inform common sense policy-making at the local level.

The COVID-19 models for South Dakota have projected that 30% of our 884,600 citizens would eventually become infected (265,000), and 20% of those would become hospitalized (53,000). 

As of May 20, 2020, there have been 4,177 positive cases and 333 “ever hospitalized” - an 8.0% hospitalization rate.  This is far below the model’s 20% projection, not to mention the fact that it represents a case-based rate of hospitalization, rather than the model’s incidence rate.  Therefore, the true percentage, which includes those who have had the virus but have been neither tested nor hospitalized, is lower yet.

COVID-19 is highly infectious and potentially deadly, primarily among the elderly with serious comorbidities.  Its severity, however, across a broad range of generally healthy population groups has been vastly overstated by the models.

There is a growing body of evidence from seroprevalence testing in the U.S. and around the world that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is many times higher than the number of reported cases.  Under that assumption, according to Drs. Fauci, Lane, Redfield (NEJM, 3-26-20), “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

A CDC report, April  6, 2020, also revealed that children are far less likely to develop coronavirus symptoms than adults. Of all COVID-19 reported cases in the U.S., Feb. 12 – April 2, 2020, only 1.7%nwere children (<18 years), even though they make up 22% of the population.  “Three deaths were reported” among the pediatric cases included in this analysis.

The majority of those who became hospitalized had at least one underlying medical complication, including some with a very rare Kawasaki-like autoimmune disease called “MIS-C,” which can trigger a dangerous inflammatory response following viral infection. 

Influenza is far more deadly to children on any given year, than the coronavirus.  The CDC has reported 174 influenza-related pediatric deaths for the current flu season, through May 9.

Interesting new research by Northwestern University has also revealed that vitamin D appears to play a key role in COVID-19 mortality rates.  Patients with serious vitamin D deficiency, “are twice as likely to experience severe complications, including death.”  Vitamin D levels rated as “insufficient” (<30ng/mL) or “deficient” (<20ng/mL) are not at all uncommon among northern hemisphere population groups during the Nov.-May period.

Higher levels of vitamin D (>40ng/mL) significantly boost the innate immune response and serve to modulate adaptive immune response dysregulation.

Moderate daily sun (UVR) exposure, through mechanisms that are independent of vitamin D pathways, activates Langerhans cells and regulatory T cells in the skin, which also attenuate the immune response during viral disease insults (Ann Neurol. 2014 May).

Government officials have repeatedly said that COVID-19 cannot be stopped, but that the ultimate goal is to slow the spread and “flatten the curve.” On that basis, it would be far preferable for the “area under the curve” (AUC) they are referencing, to occur during May-Sept., when the benefits of natural sun exposure and vitamin D are in their optimal phase.

Local governing priorities should support getting people outside and resuming normal summertime programs and activities, and revitalizing our local small businesses.

At the same time, people with serious underlying medical conditions predisposing them to COVID-19 complications should take enhanced protective measures. Others, who are simply “scared” from all of the doom-and-gloom media reports should stay inside.  No one is forcing anyone to go out.

It is time to reopen America – while the sun is shining.