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COVID-19: A physician's perspective

Having recently had a family member die from coronavirus, I feel compelled to share the science behind the disease. I am asked almost daily from patients, family and friends if the disease is as serious as the experts say it is.

First of all, I think it’s important to understand that the virus is apolitical. It is neither a Democrat, a Republican, a communist or affiliated with any other political party. Our family member did not die to further a political cause.

To make it a political matter disrespects all those that have succumbed unnecessarily to the disease. Making it political will further cause unnecessary deaths.

Second, the virus is not racist. It is neither Caucasian, Black, Hispanic or Asian. The virus is a strand of RNA. Calling it the China virus is beyond racist. It originated from a bat who I’m pretty sure wasn’t Asian. If you study the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919, where more than 100 million people died worldwide, the flu actually originated in the United States. It was called the Spanish flu because of political and racist reasons. This is why all flus and pandemics today are given technical names by the WHO.

Third, the flu has no religious affiliation. It doesn’t care whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. It will infect every single person, given the opportunity. God can’t protect those who don’t protect themselves.

Fourth, COVID-19 is not like other coronavirus strains. To call it similar to the common cold just shows ignorance. It is a respiratory-borne disease, passed through air droplets, but unlike the common cold and seasonal flu, it is not primarily a respiratory disease. It is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. It causes micro-clots in every single organ, damaging the entire body, including the brain. The most worrisome part is the long-term effects. It’s a new virus we don’t know enough about and it appears to be mutating every two weeks.

Fifth, all the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and every single reputable health organization in every single country is pretty consistent. We know that the virus spreads via airborne droplets. It doesn’t take much of a scientific leap to come to the conclusion that the best way to limit its spread is to limit airborne droplets.

I have been a surgeon for 40 years and have worn a mask almost daily, eight hours a day, five days a week. I’m sure if I showed up to the operating room not wearing a mask, stating that in my opinion they were ineffective, or felt that it infringed on my rights, I would be kicked out of the OR. Masks do work and they protect everyone.

This is not about politics, personal rights or any single person’s opinion. It’s about protecting the entire community, and every single person has the ethical/moral obligation to protect every other person in the community.

Science doesn’t lie.

Robert M. Jensen, M.D., is a Medford physician.

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