The fact that this estimate is halved to 1 in 6 for non-smoking young adults is little comfort to this father of a son and daughter in their twenties.
The thought of writing about covid-19 and its impacts had not been part of my plans. That all changed this past weekend.
A beloved family member sent me a link to a July 9, 2020 video being disseminated across the internet by “reopen America” advocates. The so-called “facts” and “realities” expressed by the interviewed physician ranged from blaming the recent spike in covid-19 cases on “massive protests and rioting” across our country, to insistence that wearing masks has “very little utility in stopping the spread” of the virus and that hydroxychloroquine works “wonderfully well,” to espousing that schools reopen “with almost no restrictions.”
But what caught my attention and motivated this post was the commentators repeated claims that 31 year-olds – the average age of those currently testing positive for covid-19 – “have an easy time with the virus,” and should go about living their lives without worrying about being susceptible to the virus. I find these assertions reckless and dangerous.
According to health departments across the U.S., younger people are making up a higher percentage of those infected with the coronavirus. Seemingly, many younger Americans have the misimpression that their youth renders them invincible to any serious harm from covid-19. Perhaps a study published on July 13, 2020 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, will provide a strong dose of reality to the less-conscientious members of the younger generation (as well as their parents).
The study’s authors, analyzing National Health Interview Survey statistics for over 8,400 young adults aged 18-25 years, reached the following conclusions:
– Nearly one in three young adults are medically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness (32%).
– In contrast, in the nonsmoking young adult group, only about one in six is medically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness (16%).
– Among nonsmokers, females were significantly more likely to be medically vulnerable than males, because of their higher asthma and immune condition rates.
– Unexpectedly, the findings revealed a lower medical vulnerability of racial/ethnic minorities compared with the white subgroup, despite controlling for income and insurance status.
[Here’s the original article in its entirety: Medical vulnerability of Young Adults to Severe COVID-19 Illness 07-13-20 ; also, more generally, here’s a recent article at Johns Hopkins medical center’s website entitled, “Coronavirus and COVID-19: Younger Adults Are at Risk, Too”: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-covid-19-younger-adults-are-at-risk-too.]
While investigating the potential impact of covid-19 on younger Americans, I also came across information relating to two other specious assertions in the “reopen America” propaganda piece, the purported ineffectiveness of face masks and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.
Face masks: Intentionally or not, anti-mask advocates often blur two issues, the effectiveness of a mask in protecting its wearer from contracting Covid-19, and the usefulness of the mask as a tool to limit the spread of the virus, especially by an asymptomatic person. I find the explanations given by the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) much more persuasive than assertions of the naysayers. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic says:
Can face masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19? Yes, face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the virus.
So why weren’t face masks recommended at the start of the pandemic? At that time, experts didn’t know the extent to which people with COVID-19 could spread the virus before symptoms appeared. Nor was it known that some people have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. Both groups can unknowingly spread the virus to others.
These discoveries led public health groups to do an about-face on face masks. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now include face masks in their recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus. The CDC recommends cloth face masks for the public and not the surgical and N95 masks needed by health care providers.
Hydroxychloroquine: I’m naïve enough to have been stunned to hear a self-proclaimed medical expert insist that research and studies show that hydroxychloroquine “works wonderfully well.” On July 16, 2020, a randomized trial with over 400 non-hospitalized participants, entitled, “Hydroxychloroquine in Non-hospitalized Adults With Early COVID-19,” was published in the American College of Physicians Journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. That study concludes that hydroxychloroquine “did not substantially reduce symptom severity in outpatients with early, mild COVID-19.” [I can’t help but wonder how soon the video’s propagandist will update his prior statements.]
Two final comments relating to the coronavirus.
First, if you’re into statistics and graphs, Johns Hopkins University has an up-to-date timeline of covid-19 policies, cases, and deaths in all 50 states, taking a look at how social distancing and other measures may have influenced those trends.
Second, as someone who took several constitutional law classes in law school, who has attended a variety of Continuing Legal Education seminars on constitutional law and civil rights over the decades, who has on occasion asserted constitutional claims on behalf of my clients (and, myself), and who continues to read and think about contemporary constitutional issues on a regular basis, I cannot fathom how any sensible lawyer could reach the conclusion that U.S. citizens have a constitutional right not to wear a mask in public. To me, that position is, frivolous, at best. It is akin to saying that we have a constitutional right not to use headlights or taillights when driving our cars at night, or windshield wipers when driving in the pouring rain, and proclaiming: Public safety and welfare be damned!
With All Due Respect,
P.S. I have intentionally not referenced the source of the offending video, or the speakers expressing their “realities’ and “facts.” I don’t wish to provide them any publicity. However, I did check into the background and funding sources of the website, and biographies of the two individuals on screen. In a nutshell, my research shows they all are so agenda-driven as to raise legitimate questions regarding the objectivity and accuracy of their assertions. Most troubling to me, as I attempt to conscientiously assess these complex scientific issues, is the primary funding source for the website: two billionaires who not only have spent a fortune advocating “human influenced climate change denialism,” but who are also believers in the scientific accuracy of the Bible.