The Hidden Threat Behind the COVID-19 Pandemic
Michael J Lucherini MD MS, physician and owner at Summit Medicine and Pediatrics PLC, Mesa, AZ | April 16, 2020
In every crisis, there is opportunity for those with unsavory intent to exploit the most vulnerable among us. We know of the fraudulent phone calls and emails promising–for a fee paid immediately of course–‘guaranteed’ financial support to those who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also know of the enticing, yet profoundly-inflated, prices for personal protection equipment, the payment for which is both demanded up-front and acknowledged to be nonrefundable, yet that is not now and never has been available in a fictional warehouse somewhere in the back streets of Anycity, Anystate. This shady sub-culture of miscreants, who are ever-present among us, skilled in both confidence-speak and fraudulent action, emerge most aggressively during national crises and perpetuate their lies and deceit to capitalize on the suffering of others. These vermin will never be exterminated, and the evil inherent within their motivation will never be cured. They are, in and of themselves, a disease within our culture which requires its own aggressive treatment and prevention to protect the most vulnerable and least discerning among us.
Nevertheless, every one of us, and not just the most vulnerable and least discerning among us, are potential targets for an even more sinister threat when under the umbrella of a global pandemic. It is important, now more than ever, to shine the light upon this threat as the consequence of falling victim to it can be far reaching and even more devastating to all of us.
Within our Constitutional Republic, a system of governance in which the liberties and freedoms of its citizens are indeed enshrined and unimpeachable by those given authority through its citizenry to operate our nation, it is the citizenry itself most endangered by political and bureaucratic opportunists in power. In crisis, many of our federal and state government officials justify limitation or suspension of Rights and privileges in order to restore order on behalf of the citizenry. Yet, as we all know, the power of Rights and privileges accorded to each of us through our Constitution in limiting the authority of our government, once relinquished, are not always willingly and readily restored. The effect on our Rights, liberties and freedoms is most often compared to that of an aging park statue, weathered and beaten over the years, whose form and figure remain easily identifiable but are increasingly and obviously compromised with small pieces missing and other parts obscured by debris and decay. And once we get used to seeing that old statue in its lesser form, it is difficult to remember precisely what it should look like in its original state. Sadly, the same can be said for our understanding, appreciation and preservation of our Constitutional Rights.
“I will work selflessly to provide excellent care and to promote optimal health for my patients, but will never support a government plan to achieve conformity through mandated expression of immunity to a disease. This would be a bastardization of our healthcare system for either a political purpose or as an unintentional consequence of spreading further the cancer of divisive, identity politics within our country.”
For healthcare in our nation, this COVID-19 pandemic presents more than a threat to the health and wellness of our citizens. It also opens the door to a novel, potential and deeply-worrisome Constitutional threat from another flank. One’s privacy of health information has been upheld as of paramount importance both in statute and in medical ethics. Furthermore, healthcare professionals are bound by solemn duty and by a well-defined code of ethics to protect the privacy of their patients’ health information at all costs. It is a tenet of our healthcare industry linked closely to the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution. Nevertheless, our politicians and bureaucrats are now considering a plan to circumvent our Right to Privacy in healthcare by mandating publicly a declaration of immunity–or lack thereof–to COVID-19. According to supporters of this measure, such action, which will without question suspend protection of a Constitutional Right, would be justified for the good of the citizenry… for now. For now? Do you see the threat here? And, of course, in the name of compassion in the face of high morbidity and mortality, how much easier is it to justify and feel reassured by relinquishing, for ‘good cause’, the protections of our basic, God-given Rights? Well, even a cursory, historical review of societies that have done so within the last 3 centuries can provide the unpleasant–often shocking–answer to this question.
There is no crisis, no circumstance, and no condition for which limitation and suspension of our basic human Rights, indeed enshrined and preserved through our Constitution, is justified easily. The risk of irreparable decay of our Rights while either limited or suspended, even for a short time, within the grasp of government authorities is far too great given the potential, long-term loss of freedom and liberty. And a promise of ‘full restoration’, when made by a politician, of course, is always by nature both vacuous and disingenuous; there are countless examples of such lies and deceit offered in a chorus of political double-speak, to which I now draw parallel with the actions of the miscreant opportunists I first acknowledged in the opening of this essay. It is with an uncomfortable sense of vigilance that I make such comparison, and will continue to do so until our politicians, bureaucrats and other government officials take great pains to distance themselves from such evil-doers whose efforts to harm us are not hidden under the heavy shroud of authoritarian benevolence. Only then can my trust and confidence in their ability to resist drinking from the elixir of power during the threat of crisis be restored.
Within our system of healthcare, we professionals are still required to protect and maintain the privacy of our patients. Consequently, it is certainly within neither the scope of purpose nor the realm of authority for our government officials to justify breaching this Right when We, The Physicians, have no such authority to do so. I will work selflessly to provide excellent care and to promote optimal health for my patients, but will never support a government plan to achieve conformity through mandated expression of immunity to a disease. This would be a bastardization of our healthcare system for either a political purpose or as an unintentional consequence of spreading further the cancer of divisive, identity politics within our country. Moreover, to do so would be a betrayal to my oath, to my patients and to my fellow citizens. I am not that person, that physician, or that citizen, and will never be.
The comments herein represent the opinion of Michael J Lucherini MD MS only and do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the staff, colleagues and patients of Summit Medicine and Pediatrics PLC