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Op-ed by Catherine Schmid Murphy 3-21-2020

Forgive my outburst.  I am compelled to speak.

There is another side to this old dish towel lady that only rarely makes an appearance, the retired surgeon, narcissistic, asshole. So if you are easily offended, wave off now. I am going to talk with you taking available information at face value.

There are many ways of knowing; but once you know, you cannot un-know. Decades ago, when I was 20 something, I asked my doctor about using Accutane for my acne; asking if the benefit was worth the considerable expense. His response: Use the brain God gave you and make your own damn decision. After recovering from his rebuff, I re-entered university to continue my studies. Now I am asking you to do the same.

One concept, deeply ingrained during our training, was to look for incongruities. For the past week or so I have been trolling articles and data sites for some scientific explanation as to the severity of the government's response to this year's viral event. I cannot find it. (You will have to do your own research.) From where I sit, if we had no identifying footprint for this year's version, the events from it would have been neatly lumped into the influenza stats, unnoticed.


"CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 38 million flu illnesses, 390,000 hospitalizations and 23,000 deaths from flu." 

CDC 3-21-2020



That, my friends, is an impressive amount of morbidity and mortality in this country, this season, for an endemic illness that is well understood and that we have been vaccinating against for decades. There have been even worse years and I can't ever recall a government response like this. And I do not remember any reports about our medical infrastructure being overwhelmed. Hmmmm.


Anyway,  what I am hearing over and over in the interviews with officials is that the REASON for the severity of response is because we just don't know about this virus. Hmmmm, again.


COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance*
  • Total cases: 15,219
  • Total deaths: 201
CDC 3-21-20 before noon



These numbers pale in comparison to the flu.  China's corona case curve was in and out in about 75 days and South Korea looks to be on the down side as well in a similar time frame; here in the USA we are about 60 days in, the curve looks like it has blinked and a potential treatment has been announced. In the meantime, state governors are doubling down with restrictions.


Next, quarantine does help. Usually quarantine is for the sick people; sick people are kept away from well people. And it has a clearly defined end: it usually ends when a sick person gets well or becomes non-infectious.

The current situation is different. There is a 15 day quarantine with no defined end point; the situation is to be re-evaluated. It is as yet, unclear to me what happens when well people are quarantined and I do not understand how the quarantine ends. Hmmmmm.

Friends, do what helps you sleep at night. I am just saying that the data is not there for me to understand the severity of response. There are too many pieces that don't add up. I am afraid of being wrong because there are some really bad diseases known to mankind, held securely in labs, but mostly, the hairs on the back of my neck are up. I often say, practice when it doesn't matter so you can do it when it does. This seems almost like some sort of a drill; the country's healthcare system is going through all the mass casualty procedures taught us by the military years ago and the government is dusting off the continuity of government and take-over-production contingencies already codified in law.....for something that might easily have been hidden within the flu statistics. For reasons unknown to me.

Hopefully in a few weeks a great success will be declared, attributed to measures taken for our safety and our country will recover from the fall out. For now, Neil and I  are scratching our heads and continuing to follow the usual seasonal flu precautions (wash hands, stay away from sick people, stay home if you are sick, protect the elderly and infirm, etc)  When nothing makes sense, cast your eyes upon Jesus. God bless you and keep you all. Neil and I plan to open and be at church on Sunday.


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  • Catherine Schmid Murphy
Comments 1
  • Neil Murphy
    Neil Murphy

    I agree, this whole thing has been a mystery to me. The numbers do not match the level of panic.

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