Don’t second-guess public health officials
Replying to “Israel’s Coronavirus Policies Are Too Extreme” (Dr. Zvi Bentwich, March 10).
I was disappointed to read this recent op-ed. As someone who served as the Center for Disease Control team leader for SARS in Taiwan in 2003, I can tell you it is far easier to armchair quarterback than to guide decisions in the heat of battle.
Given that the Israeli public health and medical care systems are already stretched thin, strategies like quarantine, social distancing and limiting travel which flatten the curve of the outbreak are probably not as overblown as he asserts. Otherwise the system could get hit all at once. And since the issue is one of limited resources, how would we expect our public health and healthcare systems to cope under the strain of a situation like that in Italy, where they are pleading for ventilators while making agonizing decisions about whom to take off of them and let die?
My experience is that public health practitioners are, in general, loath to use their police authorities. The fact that these powers are being used in the face of great economic and political pressures to do otherwise is alarming and revealing on its face. Unless I were privy to all of the data Public Health officials are using to make their recommendations, I would refrain from second guessing their actions. And even then, only if I were very certain that what was being done was flat out wrong and not just different from what I would do. In the meantime, I advise that people follow the guidance given by those whose job it is to protect the public’s health. Cover your cough, wash your hands, and follow travel and quarantine recommendations.
Let public health professionals do their work.
Dr. Yotam Ben Artzi
Dr. Ben Artzi is a new immigrant known in the U.S. as Dr. Jim Lando. He is a former U.S. assistant surgeon general and specialist in lifestyle medicine and public health.
Donald Trump, corona denier
The current resident of the White House is a corona-denier. He’s irrational in every sense. But here’s the thing: He’s our friend. He’s really our friend. And this friend told us that if we treat his country like any other – if we insist that anyone entering Israel from the United States enter self-quarantine – he’d be offended.
On the other hand, if we offend the entire world, whether we need to or not, then he’ll be fine and we can remain friends. And so, at a huge economic cost, the brunt of which will be carried by Israeli citizens, our prime minister decided that he simply couldn’t offend a friend. Israel has decided to include visitors from countries with far lower rates of coronavirus exposure than the United States or Israel in its self-quarantine measures. Long live friendship!
Prof. Maya Bar-Hillel
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