Letter: COVID-19, public health and individual rights
“Thank you,” Routt County commissioners and state officials for instituting protective measures including social distancing, business closures and mask use in businesses and confined spaces. The evidence is now clear that masks protect both the public and the wearer. The experiences of other countries also show that masks combined with other measures are among our most effective actions.
Some individuals oppose mandatory health measures, citing economic impact and personal freedom. This is not new. Since the earliest days of our republic, there has been tension between the individual freedom vs. the public good.
For highly contagious lethal diseases, e.g. the 1901 smallpox epidemic and 1918 influenza, U.S. courts articulated a philosophy whereby individual liberty must take a temporary backseat to the public good, e.g., a U.S. Supreme Court case, Jacobson versus Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which upheld the government’s right to use police powers and quarantine to manage epidemics. Current measures by our elected officials are in line with these wise precedents.
We strongly oppose any premature moves to reopen the economy and to eliminate enforcement of public health measures. We urge commissioners to stay the course and protect both people and the future of the economy.
Health policies must be driven by the science and the mathematics of pandemics and not by those who feel inconvenienced or that their rights are infringed. Restrictions may be starting to work in Colorado, but the virus is far from eradicated, with plenty of reservoirs where the virus hides. Many infected individuals walk and work among us. Masks and other measures protect us.
There will come a time when with adequate testing, contact tracing and PPEs we will be able to gradually relax regulations, but that time has not yet come. The worst outcome for community health and for our economy would be for premature relaxation of the rules to result in a second COVID-19 wave, which the CDC says would inevitably occur, and already did in several countries, and which would result in more deaths and a more extended shudown with prolonged restrictions on personal freedoms.
The letter author, a physician-scientist, collaborated for many years with the Influenza Group at the Centers for Disease Control studying viruses that, like COVID-19, cause respiratory distress syndrome.
Cosigned by the following 202 concerned Routt County residents,
Dave Lambeth, M.D., PhD, Melissa Hampton, Betsy Chase, Melrose Kuusinen, Jim and Becky Hicks, Paul and Arianthe Stettner, Mayling Simpson, Ron and Sue Krall, Paul Hebert, Joe Ghigla, Bill Latoza, Joanne Bauer, Jane Toothaker, Ben and Millie Beall, Nancy Porter, Nancy Schwanke, Tina Evans, Ben and Sheri Steiner, Lynn and Ira Dubinsky, Nancy Spillane, Edward and Anne DeGroff, Kathy Kiser-Miller, Dan Miller, Linda Miller, Diane R. Miller, George Blau, Anne and Mark Barounos, Marion Kahn, Robert S. Boyd, Hummer March, Sally Claassen, Michael and Cindy Turner, Jean M. Whiddon, Mike and Hope Cook, Lynn Abbott, Jane Harris, Paula Cooper Black, Jenny Corrigan, Darrell and Louise Jansa, Dick and Lori Grant, Susan RIchey, Libby Lukens, Meghan Lukens, Valerie McLarrin-Clark and Steve Clark, Rodger and Leslie Steen, John Lanterman, Dorin Leigh Dougall MD, Jay Gallagher, Yvonne, Cory and Logan Truelove, David Ferry, Jodi and Jeremy Glaisher, Glenna and Tim Olmsted, Larry and Karen Desjardin, Deb Armstrong, Heather Gibbon, Brian and Laurie Edwards, Michael Abrahams, Mary Walker, Rob and Ellen Race, James De Francia, Matthew Kireker, Jonathan Harte, MD, James Kissane, John Spezia and Diane Brower, Chris and Chan Young, Bob and Diane Capps, Leslie Lovejoy, Mary O’Brien, Catherine Carson, Marie Matta, Annette Seiler, Dan Hill, Karen Post, Denise Connelly, Jonathan Coles, Gretchen Donnan-Daley, Susan Collins and Jim Webster, Susan Mizen and Jeffry Troeger, Amy and Michael Stern, Linda Ferris, Judy McGinnis, Cat and Dan Schaffrick, Stuart Handloff, Anna Lee and Victor Lipman, Millie Flanigan, Molly Wilson, Anne Mudgett, Mark Ensner, Sarah and Bob Woodmansee, Dona Steele, Charlotte Cannon MD, Barbara Sparks, Linda Delaney, Kier Delaney, Deidre Macnab, Chuck and Suzi Mitchell, Laurymarie Cruz, Kim Bonner, Carolyn Baker, Cindy Wither, Carol Fischer, Carole Milligan MD, Jack Dysart, Michael Sidinger, Diane Kelly, Tim and Patti Zehner, Vickie and Marty Rosenzweig, Judith Emerson, Paul Reynolds, Lynn F. Zinn, Sharon Gulley, Rich Levy, Beverly Lehrer-Brennan, Rosalie Summerill, Linda and Rich Danter, Leslie Alperin, Darrel amd Mary Levingston, Lynn Ross-Bryant, Meghan Hanson-Peters, Andres Cladera, M.L. Mackie, Karolynn Lestrud, Marty Uhlmann and Jim Boucher, Lynne Miller, Hank Hatch, Maureen Smith, Antonia Klohr, Betsy Packer, Roger Ashton, Stephen Aigner, Meg Bentley, Jim and Freddi Goodrich, Hanni Schwanke, Jay and Gail Fetcher, James Klohr, Linda Wright, Avi Wortis, Vanessa Woodford, Susan Kelley, Clay, Susan and Sam Ogden, Patricia Moon, Jon Quinn, Babette Dickson, Christopher and Suzy Godfrey, Lou Coggia, Stewart L Beall, Ken and Audrey Kruse, Ken and Wendy Kowynia, the Kuelthau family, Tom Baer, Dale Richey, Paulina Johnson, Gigi and Johnny Walker, Joanne and Stuart Churchill, Brian T. Kelly and Terry Huffington
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