Doctors from different U.S. states have written Trump an open letter. The purpose is to open the president’s eyes to the invisible losses from the frozen business life. The authors look inconclusive when they talk about deaths from alcoholism and depression. Drinking or fooling around is a man’s choice, but the death of old people from the epidemic indifferently continued business life is the fault of the state. Doctors’ references to difficulties with diagnostics of “non-coronavirus” diseases are more convincing. But here the question arises: officially the general closing does not concern hospitals, so questions should be directed to local officials, not Trump.
More than 600 doctors signed an open letter to President Trump on Tuesday, calling on him to stop the “national self-isolation campaign” aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus. The doctors called state decrees keeping businesses locked up and children out of school “an act that has caused massive casualties among the population”. They also threatened that the “negative impact” of such decrees on public health could “grow exponentially”.
The letter outlines a range of negative health effects that doctors are seeing as a result of “coronavirus” restrictions on business activity. Among them is the fact that patients miss out on scheduled examinations. And the omission of these examinations can lead to delay in the diagnosis of the most dangerous diseases such as heart failure and cancer. Doctors also point to the increasing abuse of alcohol and other harmful substances, and pay attention to the emerging financial instability, which can lead to poverty, and then to poor health. But here is the full text of the letter:
“To President Donald Trump, White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington City. May 19, 2020.
Dear Mr. President, thousands of doctors of all specialties and representing all states of our country would like to express our gratitude for your leadership. We write to you today to express our concern over the exponentially increasing wave of negative public health consequences caused by the nation-wide self-isolation. From a medical point of view, self-isolation was an action that caused massive losses among the population. In cases of such mass public health incidents, the victims are immediately divided into black, red, yellow and green.
The first (black) group includes people whose rescue requires too many resources during a mass crisis. The health of the red group has been severely damaged, but members of the red group can survive with appropriate health care. The yellow group has serious injuries, but they are not an immediate threat to life. And the green group has small, unimportant wounds. The red group gets the highest priority in such cases. The next priority is to ensure that the other two groups do not slide into red and black. Decades of research have shown that by strictly following this algorithm, we save as many lives as possible. Millions of Americans are already in the red group today. Among them are those 150,000 Americans a month who would give a positive result during a standard cancer test. They could have already been treated, but since testing did not take place, they are not being treated. Add to that the millions who missed a standard visit to the dentist – and the diagnosis of the dentist allows you to start treating problems associated with heart disease and death from these diseases. Without self-isolation, all kinds of strokes and heart attacks could have been prevented. Add to this the cases of child abuse.
The hotlines where psychologists help people thinking about suicide have increased their work by 600 percent. Tens of millions are in the yellow group. Sales of alcoholic beverages have increased by 300-600 percent, more cigarettes are being sold. And there is also nothing to pay the rent, relations within the family are worsening, and millions of planned medical examinations of children have never taken place. So hundreds of millions of people have joined the green group. These people remain afloat for the time being, but they are at risk of a new worsening of the economic situation.
Poverty and financial uncertainty are closely linked to poor health. Continued self-isolation means that hundreds of millions of Americans can go down (from green to yellow, from yellow to red). Next, let us present real examples from our practice. Patient E.S. is a mother of two who, instead of working full time, has been downgraded to an incoming hourly employee. The patient’s husband was given an indefinite leave of absence. It turns out to be a big family drama: the father drinks more and more, the mother gets depressed and does not watch her diabetes properly. Well, children, of course, rarely turn to distance school.
Patient A.F. is chronically ill, but has previously been in a stable state all the time. The planned replacement of the hip joint prosthesis has been delayed, which has forced the patient to lead an almost exclusively sedentary lifestyle. This resulted in a pulmonary artery thromboembolism in April. Patient R.T. lives in a home for the disabled with medical care. He had a chronic attack in early March but was expected to fully recover. Since the onset of self-isolation, he has received no physical or speech therapy and has been denied access to visitors. He has lost weight and under the present conditions he has lost everything instead of improving his condition. Patient S.O. – is a freshman student who can’t go back to normal life, learning, friendship. He risks getting depressed, becoming an alcoholic. And there’s also the risk of addiction to drugs, plus trauma associated with impending financial uncertainty. We doctors are worried about what appears to be a lack of attention to the health of our patients from the state.
The degradable health effects of self-isolation leading to an increasingly dangerous yellow and red group – this danger is not receiving enough attention from the press and is generally underestimated. The mistake here is to underestimate the scale of what is happening.
The short-, medium- and long-term damage to public health from continued self-isolation cannot be overestimated. Loss of work is one of the greatest stresses in life. And its harmful impact on health is not diminished by the fact that 30 million more people have lost their jobs with you. The continued closure of schools and universities is madly damaging to children, adolescents and young people – the effects will stretch on decades to come. Millions of human losses from the continuing stagnation of many institutions are already a reality – although they may not be called by their real names. They will kill under the names of alcoholism, homelessness, suicides, heart attacks, kidney failure, etc. Among young people, these murderous trends will be named after financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug use, unwanted pregnancies. Plus poverty and violence. The damage to people’s health is as if dissolved in everyday life, it is not visible – there are people who claim that it does not exist at all. That’s not what we undersigned think. Please let us know if we can help.
With respect, Simone Gold, Distinguished Doctor, and 500 doctors (signatures attached).