This was something that I felt I needed to comment on. I did send an abbreviated (cut down to about 200 words) version to the newspaper as a letter to the editor.
The newspaper (Indianapolis Star) this morning (Sunday December 20th, 2020) had the full spectrum of concerns on how this pandemic has been handled. We read about how the state was responsible failing residents of nursing homes with poor staffing and missed reforms listed as examples. Not enough help was given to those most at risk.
Turn the page and we read about a restaurant owner who is suing the state due to restrictive policies and the effect on business.
Not enough done in one area and too much in another. While resources and approach may be difficult, I think doing all we can to keep this deadly communicable disease from spreading is something we should strive for and this can be done.
I watched my 10th Christmas through a window at my home that had a QUARANTINE poster placed on it. I had Scarlet Fever. Thankfully, I made no one else sick. There were no arguments, this had to be done.
As the years passed, I became a healthcare provider who happens to also have a Masters’ degree in Public Health. To better understand this pandemic and how it may affect those I care for, I took the course to become a COVID19 tracker.
There are many very important points learned from the course, however one that is pertinent and must be remembered is that there is a difference between civil law and public health law. When the health of the public is threatened as it is now with COVID, we will relinquish some of those liberties and freedoms that are so precious to us.
Our history has many examples of how the health of the public takes priority and quarantines were issued. They were effective and temporary.
When the Supreme Court has weighed in on cases involving the conflicts between the health of the population and those claiming infringements of their rights, the public health rules were upheld as the court declared that “Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.” However, the restrictions must be for a real and substantial communicable disease. As of this post, Indiana has more than 457,000 positive cases and 7,017 deaths. As noted in the lead article of the Star, many died alone, their families unable to off comfort or even say goodbye.
My point, the health of the population is paramount, the problem is real, public health laws are needed to control this pandemic. Realize the crisis, prepare for the sacrifice, acknowledge that freedoms and liberties will be affected, but for the common good.
Frederick E. Leickly, MD, MPH
Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Allergy Partners of Columbus, Indiana