More data needed in COVID-19 response

Dear Editor,

I read some of Ed Fields’ postings since this pandemic and I find his “just go along with it” mantra very alarming.

The need for solid facts should be the cry of everyone in society; and not just the release of limited information that will help an administration craft its myopic objective to win at all cost. Release all the information so we “da” people can make a full determination of the situation. Someone stated that you tell the truth; you don’t manage it.

When the country opened and the “second surge” occurred, only a small percent of the people who contracted the virus was said to have had a history of travel. (Information on the travel history of the majority of those who tested positive was never provided).

It is hard to conclude that they caught the virus while in the US. This is because the incubation period of the virus is 14 days. So, someone could have easily had the virus before departing The Bahamas for a weekend shopping trip to Miami. The only way to determine which is true was to have that person tested before leaving.

Only recently has the government conceded that there is a backlog with testing. What needs further clarification is whether the earlier tests’ figures that were released right after the borders and stores reopened, as well as the relaxation of the curfew, were backlog samples from before the opening and were just then and now being released in the daily count.

One must find it curious that we had a static number of test counts for months before the reopening and suddenly that number ballooned in a matter of days after the border reopening. And in that balloon, we had new cases.

A serious examination of what occurred during that space of time needs to be given for the good of the public.

In addition, the government telling me that I am under house arrest because as a teen you went to bed at 8 p.m. and left the house 12 in the night to go party in the disco is not acceptable. If you want to take away some of my fundamental freedoms, you better come with an ironclad argument so compelling that it will make me want to sell that story for you. So far, they have fallen so short and have acted so flippantly with the process, I question if they have any regard for our fundamental rights at all.

The fact is that if you test more, you get more; and the indisputable truth is that the virus is here, and it is going nowhere. We need to accept this and learn to live with it. How? The most vulnerable amongst us must continue to shelter in place. The decision to wear a mask should be a matter of individual choice, and so too should be a business owner’s right to deny service for those who don’t.

The initial house arrest was squandered because it should have been used to build capacity: more hospital beds, more test kits and, yes, more doctors should have been sourced, especially from Cuba. It is a fact that when the Cuban doctors were invited, the situation got under control. They have a treatment regimen that works! Look at Italy and Jamaica as prime examples. There is still time to put these in place, but the will has to be there to do it.

Let’s stop cultivating this climate of fear and fearmongering.

Another indisputable truth: lockdowns in and of themselves don’t work. We are a shining example of this at the moment.

The long lines everywhere and the abject poverty and high unemployment are reprehensible.

The Bahamas, and indeed the world in 2020, is not designed for such a blunt policy tool. The world is too connected and too interdependent.

The Bahamas is stuck with this 1918 policy, which, according to historians, did very little to assist with the eradication of the Spanish flu. That particular virus mutated over time and became less harmful. Early indications suggest that this may be our only saving grace for this virus as well. 

It goes without saying that I respect Fields’ right to express his views. My only wish is that those views be benchmarked against fundamental rights; because when this pandemic passes, history will not be kind to those who threw those fundamentals to the side for the convenience of what is now a learn-as-you-go social experiment.

Eric Strachan

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