Today, under the presidency of Donald Trump, we face an unprecedented danger not just for society as a whole but for those of us in the medical community dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As recently pointed out in a letter from 99 Stanford School of Medicine Faculty, dated September 9, 2020, “To prevent harm to the public’s health, we also have both a moral and an ethical responsibility to call attention to the falsehoods and misrepresentations of science recently fostered by Dr. Scott Atlas”, Trump’s new pandemic adviser. The letter goes on to say, “Commitment to science-based decision-making is a fundamental obligation of public health policy” and “Failure to follow the science — or deliberately misrepresenting the science – will lead to immense avoidable harm.”
Since then, we have learned much more about when Trump knew how deadly the virus was from the recently published book, Rage, by Bob Woodward. We have also learned about the conscious effort by Trump and his administration to ”play it down” and lie to the American public. This has had a profound effect on the lives of millions of people and leading to the deaths of tens of thousands. And, as the literature shows, the deaths have been disproportionately Latinx, Black and Native American. As this goes on, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) recently updated their projections on pandemic deaths. It stated that cumulative deaths expected by January 1 are 410,000. They anticipate 220,000 more deaths from now until the end of the year unless there is a qualitative change in how the pandemic is dealt with.
Trump continues to lie, assail science, traffic in conspiracy theories, hold super-spreading rallies, and sabotage attempts to contain the pandemic —everything we in the medical community know to be wrong and deadly. He does this as the leader of a regime, party, and social movement that must be stopped before it’s too late.
The science-hating response to COVID-19 is but one leading edge of an entire program of hatred, bigotry, and cruelty directed at the masses of people. The different strands of this fascist program – the white supremacy, the misogyny, the xenophobia, wrapped in the flag and the Bible taken literally – are consolidating into a different form of rule in this country, relying on violence, terror, and brutality.
This is Trump’s fascist worldview. Will it be ours? No. We must change this dynamic so we are no longer part of this crime against humanity. We not only must uphold Primum Non Nocere — First, Do No Harm — but we must also act with others to stop our government from causing harm to thousands more and millions around the world. We cannot stand aside until January of 2021, or longer if Trump wins, and watch another 100,000 or more die.
We, the undersigned, will not be part of or complicit with a pandemic response needlessly taking so many lives. We join with others around the country to mark the grim milestone of 200,000 Covid-19 deaths and endorse nationwide protests called for by RefuseFascism.org:
Monday September 21
MARCH AGAINST DEATH, LIES, and FASCISM, AND FOR HUMANITY!
TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!
At times of great injustice, the people must use every means of non-violent action to stand on the right side of history. If we do not protest in our millions now to demand the removal of a regime that has wantonly caused so much death and suffering, we will become accomplices to a horrifying and preventable crime against humanity. We will not remain silent. Trump and Pence must go now, and the medical community must be among the most determined voices calling for their removal.
Scott Gilbert, Physician Assistant, Orthopedics, Boston MA
Dr. Phillip L. Rice, Chief of Emergency Medicine at a hospital in Salem, Massachusetts
To sign, please go to https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/an-open-letter-to-the-medical-community-and-all-frontline-workers-trumps-covid-19-response-represents-a-grave-danger-to-public-health-his-regime-must-go-now/