Tune in to “Be Bold America!” Sunday, May 10, 2020 at 5:00pm
Democracy is being challenged by a pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic challenges not only physicians, public health agencies, scientists and ordinary people, but also democracy. Never before has the US had to confront a virus that generated government behavioral edicts and required elected officials to have to interpret the unknown behavior of a disease-causing pathogen, the Corona Virus -19. News, information and recommendations now become known quickly with social media reaching the entire country overnight.
In past epidemics, the behavior of the causative agent or pathogen was known sufficiently for physicians to give generally agreed upon advice, even though often that advice was incorrect or had little or no effect on the disease. This time, with nothing known about this new virus, a quarantine was imposed by state governors and these decisions had an enormous impact on peoples’ daily lives. The public was asked or required to stay home and not go to school or work. The impact was quickly enormous economically hastening the stock market to crash and 20-million people were out of work. Public animosity towards the quarantine decisions and the shutdown of peoples’ lives has grown and became a political issue.
With scientists looking for a successful treatment or drug and with pharmaceutical companies all over the world searching for a vaccine to prevent the disease, there is now international involvement. Policy issues arose in this country and across the world. In the US there is a generally recognized divide between political parties that, until well into the pandemic, paralyzed the legislative process and provoked great confusion regarding what was the scientific basis used to implement or not implement the best scientific and medical advice. This political divide undermined public confidence in their elected leaders and made them suspicious of all medical and leadership directives or did it?
Peter J. Levin, Sc.D., was Dean of the Schools of Public Health at the universities of Oklahoma, South Florida, and SUNY Albany where he initiated the Center for Public Health Preparedness and (PHLOT) Public Health Leaders of Tomorrow to train current county health employees. He was Health Policy Counsel to Senator Connie Mack (FL-R) and chaired the Florida Hospital Cost Containment Board that approved all hospital budgets in the state. He was Executive Director of the Stanford University Medical Center and Associate Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health. He is a graduate of Harvard College and received public health degrees from Yale and Johns Hopkins, is a US Army veteran and former USPHS hospital administration officer on the Blackfeet Indian reservation.
Currently, Dr. Peter Levin is a Public Health Consultant residing in Carmel, CA and, to add one more item of note, he was a Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queens University, Canada.