Dr. David’s Corner: Like It or Not, We have to Learn to Live with this Coronavirus
July 14, 2020
Dear Wholistic Community,
I don’t remember the last time I sat down to write at a time of such widespread uncertainty. To get past the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) global pandemic, we find ourselves stuck with some rather lousy choices. But there is one thing that is certain… we have to learn to live with SARS-CoV-2. The decisions that we collectively make will direct how America rebounds, and the consequences to our nation’s physical, mental, and economic health. I wanted to take some time to parse out some of my thoughts on the various options put before us. Regardless of these options, our ability to manage this crisis can be significantly enhanced with increased testing to identify those who have active virus, and contact tracing so those exposed to someone with SARS-CoV-2 can be notified and limit exposing others. Unfortunately, unlike many other countries whose number of new case numbers and fatalities have significantly declined, as yet, the United States had not adequately set up systems to perform these testing and tracing functions.
One option is we could go back to how we lived our lives in 2019, before the pandemic. This would undoubtedly cause the biggest spike in infections, which would be almost impossible for our current healthcare system to manage. Though this would be the fastest way to get through the pandemic by accelerating herd immunity (which means enough people have had the disease and then are less likely to perpetuate the spread), the morbidity and mortality rates would be tremendous and we would all likely lose loved ones.
Another option is to keep at-risk people at home while everyone else moves about unrestricted and exposed to being infected with the virus. Though this would likely prevent the infection curve from spiking as high as it would in the previous option, there would still be very high rates of morbidity and mortality. This is especially true since most families have close intergenerational ties and/or people with varying immune capabilities living under the same roof.
To limit the spread of the virus, we could indefinitely wear masks whenever in close proximity to others. Would this mean we would never get within 6 feet or of each other unless we are wearing a mask? The high rate of infections that have occurred over the last couple of weeks seems to have resulted from many people not consistently wearing their masks in public and being in close enough distance to pass along the virus.
Another approach is to mandate everyone except “essential workers” stay home in long-term self-quarantine. This creates many economic and mental health issues. Though some people have the means and ability to work from home, many do not. Additionally, some people would suffer greatly from the depression and anxiety that results from isolation and cabin fever.
We could also wait around for a possible vaccine, which is currently being pushed through what the government is calling “Operational Warp Speed” —- an attempt to bring a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to market three years sooner than it took the quickest vaccine to become available (mumps). Without truly adequate safety studies, what is the likelihood we would reach herd immunity by having enough people feel confident to take the vaccine or give it to their loved ones?
When I assess these various options, my scientific and logical reasoning tells me the longer it takes for a person to contract the virus, the more likely we will know how to better prevent and treat more severe complications if one occurs. We also need to make sure the virus does not overpower our healthcare system. While we have better treatment options compared to a few months ago, if there are no available ICU beds or medical providers, there may be loss of life that could have been avoided.
Those who follow our Wholistic ideology believe we have stronger immune defenses to help us mitigate against the dangers that SARS-CoV-2 presents. For example, zinc and vitamin D have recently been discussed in news outlets and more people are becoming aware of the importance of these nutrients. We continue to recommend the other supplements we have written about to further protect from, and fight against, respiratory viruses. That said, we also do not have proof these will make a difference in the end.
We live in a free society and, ultimately, people have to make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their broader communities. I have always told our patients that while I will not tell them what I think they “should” do, I would share what I would do for my own family. Based on what we know right now, my family is choosing to adhere closely to the “safer-at-home” routine that we have followed since April. We wear a mask whenever we go somewhere there is a chance that adequate physical-distancing cannot be assured. We do this to protect others and to stand in support of our community because we recognize that while we may not have symptoms prior to putting on a mask, the first sneeze or cough happens with no prior warning. My family is looking forward to a vacation later this summer to a place we expect to have no challenge maintaining physical distance, and will only eat at restaurants with outdoor seating and a maximum of 50% capacity.
As each of you decide how you are going to live through the era of COVID-19, I ask you to please consider the needs of our community and make the best decisions possible.
Dr. David Berger (“Dr. David”), a Board Certified Pediatrician with over 20 years of experience as a clinician, has developed a national reputation in wholistic pediatric primary care. Dr. David is considered Tampa Bay area’s leading authority on medical cannabis for adults and children, and is one of the nation’s most experienced pediatricians using medical cannabis to help facilitate the treatment of children with chronic conditions.
Dr. David graduated from The Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1994 and completed his pediatric residency at the University of South Florida/Tampa General Hospital where he first began utilizing wholistic therapies. Dr. David has been in private practice since 1997 and in 2005 opened Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care, his medical practice in Tampa, Florida. In 2010, Dr. David was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. In 2016, he launched Wholistic ReLeaf to help qualified patients become certified to use medical cannabis.