BUSH: Information is power, get all you can

BUSH: Information is power, get all you can

This pandemic has to be hard on doctors.

In the media, we are used to having people who disagree with us question our credibility. Before Sarah Palin coined the term 'Lamestream Media" and President Donald Trump made "Fake News" trend on Twitter, local officials were reassuring people that the crazy reporter down at the newspaper (who probably recorded the conversation) misquoted them.

But now people are trying to make political points by claiming doctors are lying about how many people have the coronavirus or who has died from it because of increased federal funding or as an attack on a president, governor, or mayor with whom they disagree politically.

Medical professionals having their credibility questioned just for pointing out facts that people don't like, is the closest I have ever been to being a doctor. I may start wearing a stethoscope in the photos that run with my columns.

Doctors have also had to face political headwinds when treating people with coronavirus. Instead of asking patients if they are allergic to any medications, they have to ask which political party they belong to. I imagine the conversations going like this:

Doctor: "Mr. Bush, you have tested positive for coronavirus. Are you a Democrat or Republican?"

I answer, 'Well, I'm registered Republican, but a lot of people in the states where I have lived say I am a RINO."

Doctor: "Well, I don't think we can use hydroxychloroquine if you're a RINO. You have to be a real conservative to take that."

Seriously, do doctors have political pressure about which drug to give to a lung cancer patient or what color stitches to use after an appendectomy? If you want proof that partisanship has gone too far, I think that may be it.

President Trump said Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for a couple of weeks even though he tested negative. That would be like me taking Advil every day just in case I sprained my ankle.

Maybe that isn't a horrible idea. At my age, body parts start aching all the time and I have no idea why.

Another thing that has shocked me is the number of people who simply can't handle factual reporting during this pandemic. Some news sources even lead with the number of people who tested negative or recovered instead of deaths and new infections because their followers want to hear the good news. To me, that's like covering a plane crash at the airport by telling people how many flights landed safely that day with no one getting hurt. It's positive, but it isn't really news.

Don't let the numbers get to you. Let them inform you and help you make wise decisions. People are going to catch the virus. We have removed most restrictions and the virus won't likely get bored and go on vacation. Social distancing and restrictions were never really intended to keep people from catching the disease. Until there is a vaccine, that is impossible to do perfectly.

The same number of positive tests were expected in a spike or under a flattened curve. The idea was to spread it out so our healthcare providers would be able to safely and effectively treat everyone who got sick.

We've seen cases jump from 12 or 13 up to more than 70 and that number is likely to continue to grow. Many readers comment about how it is bad for a business if the Journal publishes a public health alert saying an employee has tested positive for coronavirus. I don't get that. Would you think a photo was less incredible if the photographer suffered from the coronavirus? It is no different than catching a cold or the flu. We just don't have a vaccine or any drugs proven to treat it consistently so it can be pretty scary when symptoms start.

I want to know that a Walgreens or Walmart where I shopped had an employee test positive. I want to know the hotel where I stayed or the bus that took me there had a case. It doesn't mean I won't shop there again because they are unclean and have to wear a big scarlet letter. It does inform me that if I feel symptoms coming on, I better get tested quickly.

That test would help me to do a better job of not sharing it with my family or co-workers.

Ignoring the virus, being mad because it doesn't fit your political narrative, or trying to put a happy face on it doesn't change the fact that the people where you live, work and play don't want you to share it with them.

Information is power. You should be trying to get all the information you can to help you make good decisions.

Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal. Reach him at kent.bush@lee.net

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