An ER Physician/Entrepreneur Perspective on the Wuhan Virus
In California recently, two emergency room doctors gave a powerful briefing on what’s going on when it comes to the Wuhan virus in their state, our nation, and the world over. The two doctors in the video are Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi. Dr. Erickson is a former emergency room (ER) physician who now co-owns Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, CA. Dr. Massihi is his business partner. Bakersfield is the largest city and the county seat of Kern County, CA. Kern County has a population just over 900,000.
Dr. Erickson (YouTube screen grab)
The highlights from their briefing:
The Wuhan virus has caused “severe disruption” for their urgent care business. Because of the forced shutdown and the forced total focus on only Wuhan virus patients, their “volumes [of patients] have dropped significantly.” Confirming what Portland, OR nurse, Josie Alexander, boldly declared just one day prior to their briefing, Dr. Erickson also revealed that many California hospital ICUs “are empty, essentially.” Because of this, hospitals are “shutting down floors, they’re furloughing patients, they’re furloughing doctors.”
In certain places in California, the health system has been “evacuated” to the point that they are operating at a “minimal capacity -- getting rid of our doctors and nurses because we just don’t have the volume [of patients].”After talking to ER physicians around the country, “because COVID has become the focus” of our healthcare system, Dr. Erickson concludes that people with critical illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and the like, are not going to the doctor out of “fear.” Thanks to the media and many politicians across the U.S., we are dealing with an irrational and uninformed fear.
When it comes to the widespread “shelter in place” orders that permeate the U.S., Dr. Erickson points out that typically we are supposed to quarantine the sick, not the healthy. “We’ve never seen where we quarantine the healthy -- where you take those without disease, and without symptoms and lock them in your home.” This type of quarantine is not “really meshing with what we know as people of scientific minds that read this stuff every day.”
After testing 5,213 people for the Wuhan virus at their five Bakersfield locations -- which is over half of the 9,197 tests performed in Kern County -- 340 came back positive. That’s a positive rate of just over 6.5%. This indicates a “widespread viral infection” that is “similar to [the] flu.” Dr. Erickson believes these numbers are “ubiquitous” for California.
The overall numbers for the state of California -- those who tested positive divided by the overall number tested -- show that about 12% of Californians are positive for the Wuhan virus. If you apply this rate to the overall population of California, you get just over 4.7 million Californians with the Wuhan virus. At the time of this briefing, California had 1,227 Wuhan virus deaths. That means, currently in California, you have about a 0.026% chance of dying from the Wuhan virus. These numbers differ vastly from the “woefully inaccurate” (Dr. Erickson’s words) models that first predicted millions of Wuhan virus deaths across the U.S.
Dr. Erickson next asks the important questions that many politicians in the U.S. seem unwilling to consider as most of us remain in some form of shutdown: Do such numbers “necessitate sheltering in place?” Do such numbers “necessitate shutting down medical systems?” Do such numbers “necessitate people being out of work?” Of course, the answers to each of these questions should be a widespread and resounding “NO!”
Also note, as most anyone with a basic understanding of math would see, the more you test, the rate of positives (those with the Wuhan virus) goes up. With the number of deaths staying relatively the same, the death rate then gets smaller and smaller. As Dr. Erickson repeatedly put it, “millions of cases, small amount of death.” This is playing out in every state in the U.S. -- including the worst hit states such as New York. Also, it is well worth noting that across the U.S., the recovery rate for those actually contracting the Wuhan virus is well over 90% -- much closer to 100% than 90% in most parts of the U.S.
When looking at the U.S. as a whole, with over four million Wuhan virus tests, we see a 19.6% positive rate. Again notice, more testing indicates a higher rate of Wuhan virus infection. If you apply 19.6% to the total population of the U.S. (~328 million) you get over 64 million infected. Per CDC numbers, that potential number of Wuhan virus infections is similar to what we’ve seen with the flu recently in the U.S. Likewise, the total number of Wuhan virus deaths is similar to what we’ve seen in recent bad flu seasons.
Dr. Erickson highlights the 2017-2018 flu season, where “50 to 60 million” Americans had the flu, with 43,545 flu deaths. (There are multiple reports that put the deaths from the 2017-2018 flu season at 80,000 Americans.) Again, these numbers compare very well with what we are seeing with the Wuhan virus. Yet, during the deadly flu season of 2017-2018, there was “no pandemic talk, no shelter in place, no shutting down of businesses, and no sending doctors home.”
“The flu’s dangerous, it kills people,” declares Dr. Erickson, and that’s with a vaccine. Yet, just because you have a vaccine -- because only about half of Americans even get the flu vaccine -- there are no guarantees when it comes to controlling the spread of, preventing death from, or that the vaccine will even be effective against the flu or a flu-like virus. So, unless we come up with a highly effective vaccine for the Wuhan virus, and unless we’re willing to force it upon people, as we see with the flu there are few guarantees when it comes to a vaccine.
Dr. Erickson is Norwegian, thus he compares Norway, which essentially shut down, to Sweden, which did not. These are neighboring Scandinavian nations, with significantly different approaches to battling the Wuhan virus. The difference in results for both nations were “statistically insignificant” and again showed “millions of cases with small amount of death.”
Though Norway’s numbers were slightly better than Sweden’s, Dr. Erickson again asks the important question: Do Norway’s slightly better numbers justify “shutdown, loss of jobs, destruction of the oil [companies], furloughing of doctors?”
We then hear how the healthcare community’s almost complete focus on the Wuhan virus has led to a myriad of other negative health outcomes across the U.S. After hearing from the doctors in his clinics and ER doctors across America, Dr. Erickson concludes that the weeks-long isolation we’ve been in has led to a “severe” increase in child molestation, along with increases in spousal abuse, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Having made it their “life’s work” to understand immunology, microbiology, biochemistry, and virology, Dr. Erickson and Dr. Massihi conclude that all of our sheltering in place, excessive hand washing, not touching our faces, wearing of masks, wearing of gloves, disinfecting our homes, and so on, has robbed our bodies of their natural ability to develop immunities. In other words, by staying home for extended periods of time, we are weakening our immune systems. The longer we do it, the worse it gets.
There’s much more. The briefing is just over 50 minutes and is well worth your time. To sum up, we’re reacting to a virus in a way that we’ve never before reacted, with disastrous consequences -- economically and otherwise. We’re in a hole, and it’s time to stop digging. It’s time to get out, go to church, go to work, go to school, go play, and get on with our lives!
Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America