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Free the U.P.!

To the Journal editor:

There comes a time when level heads and common sense must prevail regarding the COVID-19 crisis. The lockdown for the Upper Peninsula has been irrational and nonscientific. The lockdown may be appropriate for Wayne and Detroit counties where there is a high population density and disease.

The advertisings and social media have created a fear hysteria which must be countered by a middle of the road approach. Let’s put this in perspective. In the U.P., according to the CDC, there have been 37,000-53,000 cases of influenza this flu season resulting in 23-59 deaths. The number of COVID-19 cases stands currently at 116 with 17 deaths.

No one is tracking the people who are dying due to lack of medical care or undertreatment from other causes.

In the U.P., the hospitals have been empty with staff laid off. Lisa Rosenbaum, MD, writes in the New England Journal of Medicine about the “Untold Toll” of this healthcare crisis.

I have lost a close friend who awoke with weakness in one leg. She called the hospital was told to stay home due to the risk of being infected with the coronavirus. Two days later she was paralyzed. When she was finally admitted to the hospital (not U.P.), she was found to have a hemorrhagic stroke. She died 8 days later. Earlier treatment would have saved her life.

The folks that are lucky enough to get on unemployment are on the average making up to 2 times their normal salary. The people who are really affected by the economic sanctions are the small businesses. Many will not survive. They will also be challenged by getting their employees back to work for pre-crisis pay. Most businesses can operate effectively with care to apply the same principles that the grocery stores have taken.

Outside is the safest place. It makes no sense to close parks or recreation areas. The vapor from your breath is dispersed maybe a thousand times greater compared to inside rooms. Conversely, in a plane or bus where there is little turnover of air, the risk of transmission is far greater.

It may be a while before you join a pickup game of basketball, but common sense tells you that a family picnic is perfectly safe.

It’s time to free the U.P. We have proven that we are good at social distancing!

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