LETTER: Armchair Google experts’ opinions not valid medical advice

The writer of the letter “Time to heal wounds caused by COVID” (Jan. 6) makes some valid points about how we should treat our fellow citizens. However, he also argues that public health policy that uses persuasion rather than penalty works better and as an example cites Florida as having lower case counts than New Mexico, thereby implying that mandates/penalties don’t work. He goes on to say that British Columbia should follow suit. I think this is a gross oversimplification of a very complex issue and is indicative of how information about COVID can be misinterpreted and misunderstood.

The folks who don’t believe in COVID lockdowns, vaccine mandates and other restrictions often cherry-pick statistics to reinforce their particular beliefs. Florida isn’t necessarily doing better than other states depending on what statistics you look at and how you interpret them.

One just needs to do a simple Google search – “Florida COVID cases compared to other states” – to learn that statistics can be deceiving. One physician is quoted as saying “Florida only reports those positive cases among people who are full-time residents of Florida. So, if your full-time residence is in Ohio, and you have a condo in Miami Beach and you go down there and you get COVID, you’re not a case in Florida. You’re not even a case in Ohio. You’re nothing, and that’s why I don’t put a lot of impact on that Florida case rate.”

I don’t know if this statement is actually true, but if it is, it means you can’t compare Florida statistics with those of New Mexico; they are apples and oranges. In order to accurately compare apples and oranges when it comes to COVID, you need to be an epidemiologist or infectious disease specialist. I choose to put my faith in Dr. Bonnie Henry because she has the qualifications and experience to make the hard and complex decisions required to steer us as efficiently as possible through this pandemic. Armchair Google experts do not.

Joan Richardt