Father Gabriel Lavery recently testified to the Ohio Legislature regarding the impact of COVID. Specifically, the legislature was considering the revocation of emergency powers from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. As I have attempted to the last year, Father Lavery lays out a compelling case against COVID restrictions. We are all concerned about saving lives, but our COVID safety measures have often been ineffective and counter productive, ineffective at combatting COVID while creating much collateral damage to many aspects of our lives. On the whole, the safety measures taken have done more damage than good. Father Lavery advocates, as I have throughout, for individual control with regard to navigating the hazards of COVID.
I share the video clips from Father Lavery’s testimony and also pull out a few excerpts from his written testimony. Further below, I also share an interview by Dave Rubin of three health experts Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Max Lugavere, and Gina Florio. They also talk about the problems created by the measures taken by our political leaders.
Video Testimony (Father Lavery)
Written Testimony (Father Lavery)
Full testimony: SB22FrGabrielLaveryPropTest (2).pdf
Here are some excerpts I would like to highlight and comment upon. I added italics for points I would like to emphasize:
I have listened to and read a considerable amount of the testimony against this bill from the medical community and officials from the Ohio Department of Health. The general theme of their testimony is that they are the experts who know what is medically or scientifically best for Ohioans. The rest of us are not experts and therefore are unqualified to have an opinion on the matter. We may not like what has happened the last 12 months but it was for our good and we should learn to accept that. The fundamental problem with that line of reasoning is that it considers the problem solely from a medical or scientific point of view. It fails to consider value judgments on what is important in our lives.
Dr. Zubin Damania whom I think Dr. Vanderhoff would consider a reliable source said: “You have all this science. The question is: What as a culture, as a people, politically do you decide to do with it? And that is a value judgment. That’s why when people say, “Follow the science…” You can follow the science. You can get that data, but that doesn’t actually make the decision for you. Ok, now I know the data. What do I value? Do I value education, schools, economy, poverty, hunger? Do I value as many lives saved from covid as I can? These are the questions you have to ask.”
Perhaps grandparents put more value on their grandchildren living a normal life, on being able to attend school, in being able to see faces and learn to read facial expressions than on eliminating a small but not insignificant risk to their own lives. Perhaps they would rather their grandchildren were able to use the playgrounds last spring instead of shutting them down out of a misplaced fear of somehow catching covid on a swing set. Perhaps families whose elderly relatives died alone in nursing homes would have rather taken a chance in order to give them joy in their last year of life. Perhaps families that worked hard to establish and maintain a business and have their life invested in it do not want to see it crushed by restrictions that have limited value in reducing their risk from covid.
In making this judgment the people of Ohio are just as much experts in the field as doctors are. In fact, we are more qualified to speak on these values than the doctors are because we are the ones whose lives are affected by the mandates and restrictions. The State of Ohio is not a hospital. The Ohio House and Senate are not medical boards. You are not here to make medical decisions but to give the people of Ohio a voice in what they value. And when I say “value judgment” I do not mean we are putting a value on life itself. The values we are comparing are the risk to life vs. how much harm the avoidance of that risk will cause. How far are we willing to go to avoid a risk?
Instead of having a voice in these value judgments the people of Ohio have simply been told that ODH knows what is best for them. We have been treated as if Ohio is one big hospital and we are the patients. Yet even in the medical world a fundamental principle of treatment is patient consent. Patients are allowed to choose their doctor and make an informed consent on treatment or refusal of treatment, not because the patients know more than the doctor, not because they are medical experts, but because it is their health and their life. The past year has been one giant medical experiment with involuntary participants, no opportunity to withhold consent and no compensation.
Moreover, if the predictions and decisions of Gov. DeWine and ODH had proven
accurate the people of Ohio might have been much more willing participants. Instead,
there has been one error after another in the statements of Gov. DeWine, Dr. Amy Acton
and Dr. Vanderhoff.
In conclusion, Gov. DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health have not only failed to
give Ohioans a voice in making value judgments on the emergency orders, but they have
altogether failed to provide any evidence that those orders accomplished any significant
good. The end result of all the suffering the mandates and restrictions caused is Ohio
fared far worse than Sweden despite many more restrictions and near universal masking.
Even if it is true that to some degree the shutdown and restrictions have managed to delay
and drag out the course of covid spread, my personal opinion is that we have done the
greatest injustice to the elderly and vulnerable by doing so. I know elderly people who
were extremely careful to isolate themselves for one or two months last spring to avoid
catching the virus. They could not keep that up and eventually started going out. What
good did their sacrifice of isolating do if we didn’t allow the young and healthy in the
meantime to develop population immunity? The young did the elderly no favor by living
in fear of a virus that was of little risk to them at their age while the elderly waited for it
to pass and we would not let it. That is a shame.
All of this needs to stop and needs to stop now. We need to return to our senses both in
how we deal with the virus and in how our government functions. The abuse of
emergency powers has been completely unjustified and has proven nothing but harmful.
The father’s perspective on how hospitals require our individual consent is brilliant and one I have not heard in the last year. Many of our political leaders, including Ohio Governor DeWine, have ignored this fundamental principle throughout the last year. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I sought the advice of three different medical professionals. I followed a treatment regimen completely different than what my local doctor had originally advised, going instead with the advice provided a doctor at Sloan-Kettering in New York. The bottom line is that the treatment was my decision; the manner in which I treated my cancer was up to me, not my doctor. I met many other cancer patients during six months of chemotherapy. Everyone’s situation was different depending upon their age, the type of cancer, the stage, health conditions, and many other factors. I know some who decided not to treat the cancer at all, and for them this was the right decision (chemotherapy is poison to the body, generally the right decision for those who can tolerate it, but it can debilitating to many and not be worth the cost) . However, with COVID, we have a few doctors within each state who are making medical decisions for the millions within that state. We have Dr. Fauci, a political animal, who we are told is the gold standard of COVID care, but has been proven wrong countless times. We, the patients, don’t get a second opinion; we don’t get to voice our concerns with their medical decisions; we don’t even get the opportunity to refuse treatment (which is a reasonable course of action for many not at risk). Instead, we get these public health measures crammed down and told if we don’t along with them we are the ones who don’t care about public health.
Nearly one year ago, last March, we were introduced to “15 days to slow the spread” and after that “30 days to flatten the curve”. These were federal initiatives, but then the states introduced their own safety measures, many of which stayed in place much longer than 30 days or are still in place today. The original stated goal was to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and to allow our medical experts to prepare for the coming onslaught of COVID patients. We met those goals in the initial days of the pandemic, yet many of those same measures have remained in place. The goalposts have moved.
What we have done effectively has been to “widen the curve”. We have extended the duration of the pandemic because in the end we really could not prevent it, we could only delay it for a while. In addition, along the way, we have trampled on civil liberties, and we have allowed politicians a power grab, expanding their powers in ways they could have never done with this crisis, and expanding them in a way that we will regret later as they use those powers in ways we had not originally envisioned. Many have been able to ride out the pandemic with relatively little impact to their lives, but others have had their lives devastated by measures that were supposed to protect them. The education of many children has been set back considerably. Other medical conditions have worsened while COVID was prioritized. Domestic abuse, child abuse, suicide, and drug abuse have all risen dramatically as a result of measures designed to make our lives better. Our scientific experts have often sold out to the political narrative and tragically damaged the reputation of all scientific experts for years to come.
Father Lavery is right that government misuse and abuse of power has been the biggest problem of the last year. We need to learn the right lessons from this past year.
Dave Rubin, who is a podcaster and a host on the Blaze TV network, recently interviewed with three health care experts. Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a professor at Stanford and one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration Great Barrington Declaration (gbdeclaration.org) which I have shared in earlier posts. Dr Bhattacharya speaks very cogently in plain, easy-to-understand language. Unlike Dr. Fauci and others he is not given to making political statements, but instead gives us the common sense advice, the type of common sense we should expert from our experts, common sense advice that we can use to make decisions in our own lives. The other two are not doctors but are health and fitness experts share some good insights as well. If you want to “follow the science” as everyone likes to claim they do, then listen to as many experts as you can, get as many opinions as you can, and make the decisions that add the most value to your life as well as those around you. It’s okay to listen to Dr. Fauci (although I personally won’t take his advice on anything ever again) and listen to your state and local officials (some of who are sincere but many of whom are not), but then listen to other perspectives like Father Lavery, Dr. Bhattacharya, and others who I believe do you have your best interests at heart .
Don’t do this (from Canada)
Here’s another clip from a regular guy like me, a travel agent who my wife follows. He talks more about the unintended consequences of COVID policies. He advises living your life without an irrational fear of COVID. People have an irrational fear of flying, even though it is actually safer than traveling the interstate. If we treated every risk that we encounter in the way we treat COVID or flying, we would be removing all meaning and value from life; we would be unable to function at all. Again, listen to the experts but decide for yourself.