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UPDATED: Two Bakersfield doctors call to reopen economy citing ‘science;’ Experts fact check them

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UPDATE: Within the hour of this story airing, an Accelerated Urgent Care spokesperson provided KGET with the following response: “Accelerated has been serving Kern County for 8 years. Our company has supported many nonprofit organizations in Kern County. We have worked hard for the veterans association and started the convenient care pilot program. Our veterans are now able to get care at private medical facilities in Kern County. We are not interested in bickering with medical institutions. Accelerated is focused on solutions and caring for our patients with the highest level of compassion and integrity. Accelerated has been a leader in giving testing results to Kern County to help treat and manage COVID-19 illness.”

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) —Two local doctors, who own the largest coronavirus testing site in Kern County, have gained national support and criticism for their call to lift stay-at-home orders. Their press conference last Wednesday garnered nearly 9 million views on our live stream. Since then, Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi have shared their ideas on several network TV shows.

On Fox News with Laura Ingraham, Dr. Massihi said, “there’s folks at home that don’t have a job. They lost their source of income. There’s an increase in alcoholism. Folks are depressed, suicides are happening, people are struggling, and so we felt we had to be an advocate for them.”

There, they called themselves advocates for struggling Americans. During their press conference last Wednesday, Dr. Erickson noted how their own business is struggling.

“(Coronavirus) has caused severe disruptions for Accelerated,” he said. “Our volumes have dropped significantly.”

In response, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine released a joint statement. In part, it reads: “as owners of local urgent care clinics, it appears these two individuals are releasing biased, non-peer reviewed data to advance their personal financial interests without regard for the public’s health.”

The medical associations’ statement also calls the doctors’ ideas “inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19.”

During the press conference, Dr. Erickson said, “we’ve never seen where you quarantine the healthy. We’ve never responded like this in the history of the country.”

However, we have, according to Ken Hooper, President of the Kern Historical Society.

“There is a definite parallel between now and the Spanish flu in 1918,” Hooper said. “Locally, Rosedale School District and then City of Bakersfield and the Kern High School District closed… Philadelphia got hit really hard. They more or less locked down the city. They said you couldn’t go outside.”

There have also been statistical disputes of the doctors’ claims. During the press conference, Dr. Erickson said, “California is 12 percent positive. We have 39.5 million people. If we just take a basic calculation and just extrapolate that out, that equates to about 4.7 million cases throughout the state of California.”

While Dr. Erickson said 12 percent of Californians are positive, actually it’s 12 percent of Californians tested who are positive.

Bakersfield College statistician Dr. Craig Hayward says they also cannot apply that 12 percent to the whole population.

“There are problems with how you get to that 12 percent. So if you’re arriving at it by testing people who are coming in for testing because they’re concerned that they may have coronavirus, you’ve used a biased sample because that’s not the whole population,” Dr. Hayward explained.

Therefore, the death rate of 0.03 percent the doctors calculated is off, since they used a biased sample number.

“The true fatality rate is likely considerably higher than that,” Dr. Hayward said.

Ultimately, the two national physician organizations conclude: “ACEP and AAEM strongly advise against using any statements of Drs. Erickson and Messihi (sic) as a basis for policy and decision making.”

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