I am writing in response to Chris Campbell’s letter, “Asheville is Dead Forever Unless We Wake Up” [Sept. 30, Xpress]. Although I agree with Mr. Campbell that more should be done to keep local small businesses open, I disagree with his proposed methods and the questionable facts used to back up his theories.
Mr. Campbell has grossly misunderstood the Stanford paper upon which he bases his statement, “for the average individual aged 50-64, your odds of dying from COVID-19 are 1 in 19.1 million.” Although spread around by right-wing media as proof of an overhyped COVID-19 risk, this statistic appears nowhere in the paper. Not only was the study in question not meant to calculate the risks of dying from COVID-19 on a national basis, but the study’s author specifically claims that this right-wing media interpretation was a “misrepresentation of the study and findings.”
Stating that the “curve is flat” and that no county hospital system in the U.S. was overwhelmed by COVID-19 are also provably false statements. While some states have managed to bring COVID-19 rates down with stricter social distancing/mask rules and reduced reopenings, a number of Midwest states, such as Montana and Wisconsin, are undergoing major spikes in cases. In July, hospitals all over South Texas were at or above capacity. Wisconsin health officials are currently debating opening field hospitals to accommodate the increase in COVID patients.
Mr. Campbell also fails to consider another aspect of COVID-19 that we are just beginning to understand. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that even for patients who had mild forms of the virus, long-term effects of COVID-19 might result in serious, permanent health conditions, including cardiac abnormalities, brain conditions leading to strokes and seizures, kidney injury, liver function abnormalities and cognition difficulties. Doctors have seen other conditions, such as debilitating brain fog and fatigue, last for months after recovery from the virus.
In order to keep local businesses open, instead of encouraging the myth that COVID-19 is an overhyped virus or hoax, let’s take actions that actually work. I do agree with Mr. Campbell that when possible, we should shop local, forgoing the national chains when we can support a local business. However, more importantly, both mask and social distancing regulations should be enforced. As the head of the CDC stated in September, masking is even more powerful than a vaccine.
To boost our economy, we must get the pandemic under control. By spreading false information about the virus and encouraging anyone under 65 to ignore actual risk, Mr. Campbell is doing the opposite.
— SB McKinlay