During a press conference on Wednesday, California emergency room doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care told reporters that nationwide lockdown policies are not an appropriate reaction to what current data shows about the China-originated novel coronavirus but are instead causing measurable public health issues, like spikes in domestic violence, sexual abuse, depression, and spreading fear to non-COVID-19 related would-be patients that are skipping out on vital health care.
“We understand microbiology, we understand immunology, and we want strong immune systems,” Dr. Erickson told reporters, rebuffing inconsistent shelter-in-place orders. “I don’t want to stay in my home and develop a weak immune system, and then come out and get a disease.”
Erickson noted that quarantining the healthy is like nothing he’s seen before. [Exactly. You quarantine the sick, not the healthy.]
“We decided to keep people at home and isolate them, even though everything we’ve studied about quarantine, typically you quarantine the sick,” he explained. “When someone has measles you quarantine them. We’ve never seen the healthy, where you take those without disease and without symptoms and lock them in your home. So, some of these things from what we’ve studied from immunology and microbiology aren’t really meshing with what we know as people of scientific minds who read this stuff.”
E.R. doctors across the nation, from California, to Wisconsin, to New York, said Erickson, are seeing folks avoid critical lifesaving care out of fear.
“When I talk to E.R. physicians around the country, what’s happening?” he said. “Well, because COVID has become the focus, people with heart disease, people with cancer, hypertension, and various things that are critical are choosing not to come in based on fear. So what that’s doing is forcing the health care system to focus on COVID and not focus on a myriad of other things that are critical because we don’t have the staff there and the major complaint is fear.”
Meanwhile, he claimed, the fatality rate for COVID-19, which he said might be more contagious than the flu, is on-par with flu fatality rates, if not lower.
“In Kern County, we’ve tested 5,213 people and we have 340 positive COVID cases. Well, that’s 6.5 percent of the population. Which would indicate a widespread viral infection similar to the flu,” the doctor said. “So if you look at California, these numbers are from yesterday, we have 33,865 COVID cases out of a total of 280,900 total tested, that’s 12 percent of Californian’s were positive for COVID.”
“Well, we have 39.5 million people, if we just take a basic calculation and extrapolate that out, that equates to about 4.7 million cases throughout the state of California. Which means this thing is widespread, that’s the good news. We’ve seen 1,227 deaths in the state of California with a possible … prevalence of 4.7 million. That means you have a 0.03 chance of dying from COVID-19 in the state of California,” he continued, adding, “96% of people in California who get COVID recover.”
Dr. Massihi said the initial reaction to apply shelter-in-place two months ago, when all we could rely on was theoretical data, was likely the right call, but now that there is available real data, lockdown orders could create additional harm outside of COVID-19.
Dr. Erickson repeatedly called the initial models, which projected millions of COVID-19 deaths, “woefully inaccurate.” What they are seeing across the nation, and even in the rest of the world, however, is “millions of cases, small amount of death,” he reiterated multiple times.
This holds true even in New York, he argued. There are “19,410 deaths out of 19 million people which is a 0.1% chance of dying from COVID-19 in the state of New York, and they have a 92% recovery rate if you are diagnosed with COVID,” Dr. Erickson said.
Asked by a reporter if “social distancing” was key to dropping our deaths relative to model predictions, Dr. Erickson highlighted Sweden and Norway: both Scandinavian countries, Norway with lockdown and Sweden without. There is no real difference between their death rates to indicate lockdown is warranted, he argued.
Lockdown orders have resulted in, for one thing, a community spike in child molestation, the doctor noted. “Molestation is increasing at a severe rate. We could go over multiple cases of children who have been molested due to angry family members who are intoxicated, who are home who have no paycheck,” he said. “These things last a lifetime … these are things that will follow these people and affect them in a negative fashion for their life and these are secondary effects from COVID.”
Spousal abuse, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, and suicide have also spiked in their community, Dr. Erickson said. “Education has dropped off, economic collapse, medical industry,” he added, “we’re all suffering because our staff isn’t here and we have no volume. These are all real things that I’m seeing every day. I don’t read about this stuff; I’m seeing it in my clinics. We have clinics from Fresno to San Diego and these things are spiking in our community. These things will affect people for a lifetime, not for a season. So let’s let’s make sure we’re clear on that.”
Dr. Erickson also noted that doctors across the country have felt pressured to include COVID on death reports. “It’s interesting, when I’m writing up my death report, I’m being pressured to add COVID,” Dr. Erickson said he’s heard doctors tell him. “Why is that? Why are we being pressured to add COVID? To maybe increase the numbers and make it look a little bit worse than it is? I think so.”
“So this is what I’m hearing from physicians I talked to in Wisconsin, New York, and everywhere,” he said.
Lockdown measures wildly inconsistent, favoring big businesses, Dr. Erickson added. “So big businesses are open, little businesses are not? There’s no science behind that. As we’ve gone over, that is not science, there’s other factors in play that we don’t have time to go into, but it’s not science. I want to make that clear.