The Corner

Health Care

1,288 ‘Public Health Professionals’ Disgrace Their Profession

Nurse Teresa Malijon waits for patients at a drive-through testing site for coronavirus in a parking lot at the University of Washington’s Northwest Outpatient Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., March 17, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Ramesh alluded to an open letter signed by over 1,000 “public health professionals, infectious diseases professionals, and community stakeholders.” The letter argues that it’s okay if the current protests/riots spread COVID-19 because racism is itself a public-health issue that needs to be addressed.

Let’s take that argument seriously for a moment and ask a follow-up question: Why, then, was there so much criticism of the anti-lockdown protests? The premise of those protests was that continuing lockdowns caused far more economic damage than was necessary. If anything is a public-health issue, surely record unemployment, social isolation, and bans on people going to hospitals for non-urgent care should count.

Well, here is how the letter distinguishes between anti-racism protests and anti-lockdown protests:

. . . [W]e do not condemn these [anti-racism] gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States . . . . This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders. Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.

It’s difficult to understand how any reasonable person could have committed those words to print. Even just, “Yeah, we’re hypocrites, so what?” would have been a more satisfying response. Ironically, the signatories do say they have “privately mourned the widening rift between leaders in science and a subset of the communities that they serve.” That rift is now a chasm. If these leaders do have any real expertise, how sad that it’s been lost within the all-consuming political correctness of our age.

Jason Richwine is a public-policy analyst and a contributor to National Review Online.

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