One emergency room doctor who has been on the frontline of the coronavirus fight in New York City says it is time to reopen America.
Leaning on his experience treating COVID-19 patients, Dr. Daniel Murphy, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, explained in an essay for the New York Post why he believes America should strongly consider reopening.
1. The curve is flattening
According to Murphy, who actually contracted COVID-19, the "wave has crested."
"At 1 p.m. on April 7, the COVID-19 arrivals slowed down. It was a discrete, noticeable event," he wrote. "Stretchers became available by 5 p.m., and the number of arriving COVID-19 patients dropped below the number discharged, transferred or deceased."
"This was striking, because the community I serve is poor. Some are homeless. Most work in 'essential,' low-paying jobs, where distancing isn't easy. Nevertheless, the wave passed over us, peaked and subsided," Murphy explained. "The way this transpired tells me the ebb and flow had more to do with the natural course of the outbreak than it did with the lockdown."
2. Non-COVID care has plummeted — which is bad
According to Murphy, his ER has seen a significant drop in non-COVID patients. In fact, his ER, which he said normally sees 240 patients per day, is now averaging fewer than 100.
"That means our patients in this diverse, low-income community are afraid to come to the ER for non-COVID care," Murphy explained.
Murphy said the "unfortunate consequence of the stay-at-home strategy" is that growing numbers of people are dying at home because they are afraid to seek out medical help.
"A large share of those staying home surely have emergency medical and surgical conditions not related to the novel coronavirus," he explained. "The growing numbers dying at home during this crisis must include fatal myocardial infarctions, asthma exacerbations, bacterial infections and strokes."
"Meanwhile, our pediatric volume in the ER has practically disappeared. Visits to primary-care pediatricians are also down, with vaccine schedules falling behind," Murphy said. "Everyone seems to be avoiding the health system."
3. COVID fear is over-amplified
"Inordinate fear misguides the public response," Murphy explained. "While COVID-19 is serious, fear of it is being over-amplified. The public needs to understand that the vast majority of infected people do quite well."
4. COVID is more prevalent than we know
Murphy said that more people have contracted COVID-19 than have tested positive for the virus. This is due to the fact that a significant number of COVID-positive patients are asymptomatic.
"Many New Yorkers already have the COVID-19 infection, whether they are aware of it or not. As of today, over 43 percent of those tested are positive in The Bronx. We are developing a significant degree of natural herd immunity," Murphy explained. "Distancing works, but I am skeptical that it is playing as predominant a role as many think."
"More testing will better establish the numbers among those with mild illnesses and no symptoms. My professional experience tells me the number of infected people will be high," he continued.
"Testing is important work, but it should happen in parallel to the immediate resuscitation of the economy and getting people back to work," Murphy wrote.
Indeed, antibody testing shows that more people have contracted COVID-19 than have tested positive for the virus. This indicates that COVID-19 is less lethal than reported numbers show.
Murphy is not the only doctor calling for an end to the lockdown.
Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi from Bakersfield, California, called for an end to the shutdown last week after significant testing showed them that reopening would be safe because the virus is less lethal than believed. The doctors also said quarantine is preventing the build up of immunity.