Earlier this week, the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp (R), issued a statement that today certain businesses, such as barbershops, nail salons, gyms, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors, would be allowed to be reopen. In addition, starting Monday, dine-in service would be permitted at restaurants. On Thursday, the governor said via Twitter that the state had been “successful in our efforts to protect Georgians and our state’s health care infrastructure” and “with favorable data and approval from state health officials, we are taking another measured step forward by opening shuttered businesses for limited operations.”
The statistics show the Georgia has more than 21,800 virus cases, at least 881 people have died and the number is continuing to increase at a steady rate every day. The spread of the virus within the state remains uneven with most of the cases being concentrated in the Atlanta area. However, in rural Dougherty County, there are almost 1,500 known cases and 109 deaths. Officials say that the source of the outbreak was a funeral that brought together more than 200 people into a small memorial chapel. Chatham County, which has more than twice as many residents as Dougherty County and includes the city of Savannah, only has 199 known cases and six deaths.
The decision to reopen has come under fire from public health experts, mayors around the state and even the President. The President had initially supported Kemp’s decision, but has since backtracked. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has urged people to stay home, saying that “there is nothing essential about going to a bowling alley or getting a manicure in the middle of a pandemic.”
As the controversy surrounding reopening continues to grow, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement saying the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should only be used at hospitals or in clinical trials due to the risk of dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities. They felt that the statement was warranted because there have been reports of many people getting prescriptions for the drugs hoping to prevent the infection or treat it themselves without having to go to the hospital. The FDA’s new guidance was the result of reviewing several different sources demonstrating the risks associated with the drugs, which so far have not been proven to actually help COVID-19 patients recover. These medications are a “treatment” that Trump has been supporting for the past several weeks despite not having evidence that they actually work.
Another topic that Trump has been eagerly talking about in the past few days is that sunlight will help get rid of COVID-19. In a press conference yesterday, he had the head of science at the Department of Homeland Security, William Bryan, speak on how the agency has been looking at how sunlight and disinfectants, such as bleach and alcohol, can kill the virus on surfaces. Their findings demonstrate that it might kill the virus in as little as 30 seconds. Mr. Bryan further stated that COVID-19 dies quickly when exposed to sunlight, high temperatures and humidity. As evidence of this, he cited experiments the agency had done at a high-security laboratory in Frederick, MD. However, early this month, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences looked exclusively at humidity and temperature in places, like Australia and Iran, since they’re having hot weather. The results showed that warmer conditions have a minimal impact on the virus.
The comments made by Mr. Bryan led Trump to state that maybe we should be using ultraviolet light on the bodies of patients with virus in order to get rid of it. After making this comment, he asked Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, whether or not she had heard of sunlight being used against viruses. Dr. Birx said, “Not as a treatment.” As she tried to elaborate further that a fever is a good thing because it helps your body respond to an illness, the President cut her off and said “I think it’s a great thing to look at.” It’s well documented that ultraviolet lamps can harm humans if used improperly. In addition, the link between ultraviolet light and skin cancer is well known.
The President then went on to say that maybe disinfectants could be injected inside sick individuals as a way to clean the body. Most bottles of bleach and other disinfectants carry warnings of ingestion dangers because they can kill humans if swallowed or if fumes are too powerful. Trump’s statements have provoked responses from public health officials throughout the country and the makers of several cleaning products. There have been several statements issued telling people to not ingest any form of disinfectants due to the health risks.
These latest statements by Trump are just a few more ideas that he is touting as ways to combat COVID-19 despite a lack of scientific evidence. As with most of his suggestions when it comes to the virus, they shouldn’t be followed. Instead, American citizens need to listen to health experts on what the best course of action should be.