Ada Fisher: World can’t be put on lockdown until vaccine is found

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2020

To open or not to open, that is the question.

Food, clothing and shelter are major markers in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs considered essential services. But in a pandemic, health care availability, public safety and emergency services aren’t far behind. Whether businesses or schools should be considered of such importance is a debate entered by those who fail to understand human as well as world dynamics.

Reopening schools is a most important dynamic which should be a prime consideration. Our children are suffering from pandemic-enforced isolation and have become most vulnerable to violence, intellectual poverty without critical resources, diminished physical activity and many more problems. So, too, are their parents or guardians who are in imposed imprisonment under the same self-quarantine and under the guise of social distancing. Of prime concern should be an understanding that they are our future, but by the same token they must be prepared to engage in a world of uncertainty not made easier by leaders unprepared to lead and media-driven, me too mania.

As Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s premier infectious disease authorities, is sadly acknowledging the coronavirus is unlike any other. So much is unknown.

It is fallacy to assume the world should be put on lock down until a vaccine is found or immunity can be proven. Such is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future while the reality is that government cannot support people financially indefinitely. Hundreds of health care specialists have petitioned the World Health Organization to acknowledge the coronavirus is airborne. Such a finding is devastating because it’s an admission there’s no hiding place from its reach or devastation. Regular mask as an expectation are not a guarantee of protection, but they are the best hope for limiting the spread of the disease as well as its possible secondary causes.

Government-enforced compliance with health directives can be imposed under the Police Powers Acts granted in years past. However, such flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which guarantee rights of assembly, freedom of religion and various other mandates which cannot be squashed by national concerns. That will await constitutional court challenges. Don’t blame the government when individuals exercise such rights. We must have persuasive and credible leadership to meet these challenges using a bully pulpit to unite rather than divide.

So let’s talk schools. Yesterday, I sent my 8-year-old grandson to the Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School’s Summer School, developed in conjunction with parts of the Rowan-Salisbury School System, and he returned a different child. He was happier, delighted to engage with his peers and learned some fundamentals of response to the pandemic. They got to choose their face mask, which made compliance with their use tolerable, made sanitizer and played games, which captured their imaginations as well as love of the weird and “gross-outs.”

Children need the stimulation gained from interaction with their peers and, as the American Academy of Pediatrics has acknowledged, there is no substitute for this. Children need to get out of the house and explore their environment. That’s how they grow. That self-actualization is at the top of Maslow’s pyramid of needs.

All of this may indeed place them at risk to their health, but isolation may equally stunt their growth.

One of my favorite medical school professors, Dr. June Osborn, who headed the U.S. Task Force on AIDS, told me while teaching about vaccines that she would rather expose her kids to a live case of Chicken Pox than wait for a vaccine. Having survived Scarlet Fever, red measles (rubeola), German measles (rubella), meningitis (viral), exposure to tuberculosis, meningococcal meningitis, shingles (a form of chicken pox) and who knows what else from frontline service to my fellow humans, I appreciate that all life has certain risk from which one cannot be isolated.

Understand that, despite all that human kind has been exposed to in the annals of human disease, the coronavirus is unlike anything ever seen. It seems almost alien. It is theorized that there is a swine flu/1918 flu like virus which could be worse already in animals in China. Will it be actualized? There is no guarantee of anything and, though one may wish to second guess what is, the real question posits there is no hiding place from facing reality and understanding we need to get on with life — not sequestered in a fear of what-ifs.

Let’s use the best advice out there.  It’s time to keep on keeping on and get on with life.

Salisbury’s Ada Fisher is a licensed teacher, retired physician, former school board member and current N.C. Republican national committeewoman.