Brian Moench: We are on track to see a lot more dead people

(Alex Brandon | AP file photo) Wearing a mask, White House adviser Jared Kushner leaves after President Donald Trump spoke about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington.

In the surreal ghost story, “The Sixth Sense,” a young boy played by Haley Joel Osment stuns his psychologist telling him, “I see dead people.”

America is becoming a real ghost story. We’re all seeing dead people, a lot of them. Most didn’t need to die. Many were sacrificed by their own government.

Vanity Fair just exposed the most depraved move yet of the Trump presidency. They explained the inexplicable sudden disappearance of a national pandemic strategy into a dog-eat-dog, every state for themselves debacle.

De facto president Jared Kushner heard comforting predictions that the pandemic would peter out after running its course through initial blue states. The Kushner group concluded the dead bodies could then be blamed on Democratic governors, so no national strategy was needed.

For purely political expediency, the White House was comfortable allowing a political cleansing, extermination in the Blues, especially minorities in the Blues.

Rivaling their cruelty however was their stupidity. A pandemic anywhere means a pandemic everywhere. COVID obviously doesn’t honor state borders or the politics of its victims. And now the virus is working its way through the rest of the country with a vengeance, and likely will kill more Americans than did World War II.

Political cleansing is not the end of craven White House COVID policies. Trump and complicit governors are trying to force teachers back into the classroom, by threatening to withhold federal funds from schools if they don’t open up.

But in order to have even a small chance to open up safely, schools must have a huge new source of funds to upgrade filtering and ventilation systems, to keep class sizes small, buy new air purifiers, plexiglass barriers, and ensure supplies of masks, gloves and disinfectants. But rather than provide money or safe guidance, the White House is trying to bully teachers into sacrificing themselves for Trump’s re-election prospects.

In the last week, a wealth of new information has shown how dangerous schools will likely be.

Children older than 10 can transmit the virus as efficiently as adults do. A new study has found that younger children carry significant concentrations of virus RNA, even if they are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. In fact some children under age 5 were found to have levels of the virus up to 100 times those found in mildly infected adults.

A report from the CDC found that among patients with mild COVID cases, 35% were still having symptoms two to three weeks after testing positive. Among persons aged 18–34 years with no chronic medical conditions, one in five had not returned to their previous state of health.

An alarming new study found heart damage in over three-quarters of recovered COVID patients, most of whom were never ill enough to require hospitalization. The studies were done about two months after patients were diagnosed. The damage was independent of the severity of the patient’s illness, pre-existing conditions, or how far out they were from recovery. The median age was only 49.

Over 6,600 cases of COVID have already been linked to colleges, and the new academic year hasn’t even begun yet. Experts are now advising people in multi-generation homes to wear face masks in the home.

Add to the hard data some chilling anecdotes. The Washington Post just wrote a story about a teacher who hadn’t been in the classroom since March. With two other teachers she taught summer school online from an empty classroom. They all took turns in front of the camera, but used separate computers, didn’t share “so much as a pencil,” and they all wore masks.

All three of the teachers developed significant symptoms from COVID, one of them died, her brother died, and her husband was left in critical condition.

A youth camp in Georgia just shut down after 260 of 344 people in the camp showed up positive, after only spending one week together. Staff wore masks, but they didn’t require masks for the children. All camp attendees tested negative before they came.

It shouldn’t take a sixth sense to see that if we refuse to control the virus first, opening up schools will be a disaster movie played out in real time in every corner of the country. And we’ll all see more and more dead people.

Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Brian Moench, M.D., president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

Brian Moench, M.D., Salt Lake City, is president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.