COVID: Lies, Misinformation and Consequences

I was inspired to write this evening by a Facebook post our daughter posted earlier. She is a nurse practitioner working with COVID patients in the Intensive Care Unit of a major hospital in New York city. The post (below) speaks for itself.

“People ask me how I’m doing. I say fine because no one wants to hear the truth. Here’s the truth:

As a healthcare provider I’m NOT OK. 

NONE of us are. 

I’m exhausted. 

I’m weary. 

I’m drained. 

I’m sad. 

I’m devastated. 

I’m angry. 

I feel the weight of the entire pandemic on my shoulders every day. 

I’m disappointed in so many things and people. But most of all I’m angry at all the misinformation. 

The vaccines work. Yes you can still get COVID. But it’s much less likely. BUT (and this is a really big but) The vaccines prevent you from having to meet me in my professional life. I am a nurse practitioner in an ICU in NYC. I’ve been taking care of the sickest COVID patients since March 2020. COVID is real. People are still dying from it. And that is PREVENTABLE! That is what makes me angry. Since the vaccines I have not had a single fully vaccinated immune competent patient die. 

By not getting vaccinated, you the public, are forcing me to call your loved ones and tell them that you need a ventilator. That even with a ventilator there is more than a 75% chance you will still die. I have to tell people this. Families of single mothers’ of 12 year old girls. And it’s breaking my heart into little tiny pieces. 

Please please please get vaccinated. 

I and my colleagues can’t keep doing this.” 

I share her frustration and anger over the lies and misinformation passed by supposedly intelligent and responsible people who we deem our leaders. Our own (former) president totally discounted the seriousness of the disease and claimed that the common flu killed more people than COVID. Well, if you believe that, consider that the common flu kills approximately 36,000 Americans annually on average. In comparison, in the last 365 days (6 Sept. 2020 to 6 Sept. 2021) COVID has killed 468,754 Americans (more than 10 times the number of flu victims). COVID is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. following heart disease and cancer. The flu victims we can’t help. It has been proven that the flu vaccine keeps the numbers down, but you can’t eliminate all of them. Similarly, prior to the vaccine, many of the COVID deaths were unavoidable. But most of them were, and we could have kept the numbers way down.

We knew early on how to reduce the spread of the disease but many people ignored it or argued against it because taking precautions like wearing masks and keeping social distance “robbed them of their freedom”. Then when vaccines became available many spread conspiracy theories like the vaccines contained microchips that allowed the government to track people. Others argued that the vaccines weren’t safe, or that they weren’t properly tested, or they relied on unproven technology, or they had caused wide spread disease and death, and many others. All of these arguments lack evidence of any kind and all have been disproven. Yet, like the virus itself, they continue to spread – principally through social media.

It is this kind of misinformation, lies, fear mongering and belief in conspiracies that is causing so many to ignore the seriousness of the disease and to avoid taking precautions against it. Spreading misinformation and lies has consequences – just ask the loved ones of those who perished needlessly. Either people must stop spreading the lies or people must stop believing them (preferably both). Failure to do so will result in more needless deaths and will prolong the life of the disease thus increasing the likelihood of its mutating into something even worse.