Hughesair (Inflection Point)

Retired physician and air taxi operator, science writer and part time assistant professor, these editorials cover a wide range of topics. Mostly non political, mostly true, I write more from experience than from research and more from science than convention. Subjects cover medicine, Alaska aviation, economics, technology and an occasional book review. The Floatplane book is out there. I am currently working on Hippocrates a History of Medicine and Globalism. Enjoy!

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Public Health Authority to Test, Quarantine and Trace Contacts

     Besides the security vulnerability exposed by our COVID19 pandemic, the conflict between individual liberties and Public Health’s ability to test, isolate and trace, re-emerges. A similar conflict plays out as State Governors order continuing shutdown or reopening along Federal and Public Health guidelines or not so. In either case, lock down, contact tracing and quarantine appear to violate Civil Liberties.
     HIV as of 2020 infects 1.1 million of the US. There have been 700,000 total deaths and    presently about 16-17 thousand deaths per year.
     Influenza, on the other hand, infected 41.3 million last year with 57,300 deaths.
     COVID19 so far (5/28/2020) infected 1.7 million with 101 thousand deaths.
Public Health has their hands full with COVID19. Their tools are limited by their ability to test, quarantine, contact trace and treat. HIV initially was uniformly fatal, so there was every reason to use draconian measures to achieve the first three above strategies. Public Health and both public and private medicine, however, were denied the use of quarantine and severely limited in testing by political legislation. That limitation lead the US to lead the World in HIV.
     Our mishandling of HIV, no fault of Public Health, serves as an argument favoring Citizens relinquishing some of their civil liberties to their public health departments for the common good.
PublicHealth appears to be exercising that authority rationally with this pandemic, despite some non compliance among young people. Our liberty is great, and with it comes a requirement for cooperation and citizenship. Public Health needs the authority to evoke these austere measures in any future epidemic without obstruction. Obstruction in this epidemic came from China cutting off both supplies and giving false information.

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