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Letters to the editor 8/12/2020



Scientifically illiterate

As a zoologist and science educator, it is clear to me that at least half our citizenry is woefully scientifically illiterate. This unfortunately includes our leaders, the governor, lieutenant governor and many of the school board administrators. Without mitigating factors, we are on track to have in a month another 30,000 cases of COVID-19. Harvard Medical has recommended we shut down, and yet we are going to open schools and expose all our children and teachers. Our ignorance and our arrogance mean nothing to the coronavirus. Coronaviruses don’t go away. They continue to circulate forevermore within a population.

As I look around, I see groups of non-family members playing in the pool, meeting in parks, celebrating at restaurants. While they are selfishly enjoying themselves, our medical professionals are in the eighth month of fighting this epidemic. They are exhausted, and many of them at home still recovering from the illness themselves. I know this because they tell me. The ICU beds are filling and will be at capacity in a very short time period. So when it comes time for you to get medical care for COVID or something else, you may not be able to. Doctor’s offices are going to decide that it is not worth risking their own health.

I am a proud American; however, I have never been so ashamed of the citizens of our country who will not unite around this effort to stop the spread of this disease and save the lives of their families and friends.

Shauna Evans, Zoologist

What runway?

Governor Kevin Stitt declared Oklahoma has “plenty of runway” for the COVID surge. We have “plenty of runway,” meaning we have more hospital beds available to take care of COVID and other sick people. As long as there are available beds, there is no need to worry. To insure the runway stays open, the governor’s office says we are increasing bed “capacity” to meet the surge.

The governor’s measure of how we are doing with the COVID pandemic is to analyze number of hospital beds that are being used. He does not want the surge in COVID patients to exceed the “capacity” of hospitals to care for those in need.

Are the numbers we are measuring the right numbers to measure? Why are we measuring bed capacity?

Consider some basic facts. Oklahoma is averaging about 800 new COVID positive cases per day. Some of those COVID positive people will die; 1-2 out of every 100 new COVID patients will die. That means every day, we are preparing for between 8 and 16 more Oklahomans to die.

Oklahomans will die without the bed “capacity” being exceeded. The governor says there is no need to be concerned. No need to worry; the highway is open.

Measuring bed “capacity” is the wrong variable to measure. Neither is the number of deaths the correct number to measure. We should be looking at the number of new cases to get an idea of how we are doing.

Based on the correct measurement, new cases, we are doing pretty badly. COVID deaths are preventable. Masks on everyone protect everyone. The governor refused to wear a mask until he got COVID. Now he wears a mask during interviews. What does he do the rest of the time? He refuses to issue a mask order for the state. The governor refuses to use meaningful measurements.

What’s he trying to do?

“Figures don’t lie, but ___________” He does not understand science, epidemiology, nor does he think in a linear manner. So perhaps Governor Stitt truly believes the open highway is important. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism needed to block the truth.

Tom Coniglione, MD
Oklahoma City

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