Doctors, scientists, and government officials across the world have encouraged and sometimes ordered people to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, who own the largest testing site in Kern County, Accelerated Urgent Care, say sheltering in place is doing more harm than good.
They both refuse to wear masks outside and believe Kern County should open back up immediately.
“We are following the science,” Dr. Erickson said. “Does (coronavirus) necessitate a shutdown, loss of jobs, destruction of the oil company, furloughing doctors?”
He added, “we’ve never seen where you quarantine the healthy—where you take those without disease and without symptoms and you lock them in your home.”
They propose allowing anyone without symptoms to return to work.
“Are you in asymptomatic viral shedder? Maybe. But we can’t test all of humanity,” Erickson said. “The major events like sporting events, these are nonessential. Let’s get back to those slowly. Let’s start with schools.”
Then they hope to start widespread testing.
By their logic, more testing means more cases, but they believe the death rate has remained consistently low.
“Is the flu less dangerous than COVID? No, it’s not. They’re similar in prevalence and in death rate,” Erickson said.
But their numbers don’t agree with stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, there were more than 35.5 million flu infections during the 2018 to 2019 season. Of those, 34,200 people died from the flu. That’s a death rate of 0.1 percent.
As of April 23, nearly 49,000 people have died from the new coronavirus out of a reported 865,585 infections. That’s a death rate of 5.6 percent.
“As I shelter in place, my immune system drops. You keep me there for months, it drops more—and now I’m at home handwashing vigorously, washing the counters, worried about things that I need to survive,” Erickson explained.
They’re also concerned about domestic effects of staying at home.
“The secondary effects—the child abuse, alcoholism, loss of revenue—all these are, in our opinion, a significantly more detrimental thing to society than a virus that is proven in similar in nature to the flu,” Erickson said.
It’s important to note their claims are based on data from the past two months, not longterm scientific studies.
“Scientific studies, double-blind clinical controlled trials take years. We are doing the best with the data we have. This is all common knowledge you can find online,” Erickson said.
“Do we need to still shelter in place? Our answer is emphatically no. Do we need business to be shut down? Emphatically no.”
Ultimately, Doctors Erickson and Massihi have a different interpretation of the science than other experts, including Dr. Faucci, CDC officials, and Public Health directors.
So will their views endanger our community by discouraging people from staying at home?