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COVID-19 - Reprieve from Lockdown

June 17, 2020
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Our country, and the world, is slowly waking from the social and economic isolation imposed on us to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Coronavirus is still with us we are moving forward to to recapture our lives, as we struggle to cope with the realities of the ever-present virus and its dangers.

The pressure on medical science to come up with cures will hopefully lead to success sooner than history would predict. Unfortunately, the pressure may also lead to shortcuts and lowering of standards, which results in premature conclusions that are often inaccurate. While we all hope for a vaccine, and perhaps an effective drug treatment to be a reality sooner rather than later, it will likely take more time than we’d hoped.

In the meantime, we have to be nimble and wise as we venture back into our lives and livelihoods. While we do not yet have effective medicines or vaccines, we must use the public health tools and infrastructure that we have to help us stay safe as we come back to life. There is a constant stream of mixed and contradictory messages from experts, commentators, political leaders and others. How do you separate the information that is useful and relevant from that which is not?

Part of the answer is to understand the nature of the threat. To learn about the coronavirus, the illness that it causes, and what you can do to decrease your chances of getting infected. I authored a COVID-19 Reference Guide that is meant to help you understand what you, and all of us are dealing with. Download the guide and hit “reply” to let me know how it was useful to you, and how it may be made even more useful. And please share this link with your friends and colleagues so that they may also benefit.

Our economists are still arguing whether our recovery is “V”, ”W”, or “L” shaped as the stock markets react steeply up or down depending on the prevailing thoughts and uncertainties of the day or week. While no one has a crystal ball to look into the future, certainly not me, Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing and mentor to Warren Buffet famously said: “Systematic investing will pay off ultimately, regardless of when it is begun, provided that it is adhered to conscientiously and courageously under all market conditions.”

A word about the brutality of racism that has recently consumed our attention. -- America is an inspiring story that has always been a beacon of hope and, I believe, has led the world forward and upward for the last century. However, there is a persistent blemish that rears its ugly head all too often. An ugly stain self-inflicted at the conception of our nation when our founding generations embraced and tolerated slavery as a legitimate form of labor, and forcefully imported indigenous Africans to fulfill that role. And while we have come a long way and removed the legal basis for discrimination, it is still embedded deeply in the tissues of American society.

While the black community are the direct victims crying in fear and frustration, the ugliness of the stain is a blemish on us all. I am a white middle-aged American male with two children. I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America. But when I close my eyes and try to imagine myself as a father raising two African-American children I shudder in fear. It shouldn’t be that way.

Let's all get out there, each at his/her own pace, and recapture the social and economic dynamism that defines us.

Be well and stay healthy,

Daniel Ruben, MD, MPH, MBA