As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, we have seen an alarming amount of disinformation spread online, including by our elected officials. In Colorado we have seen elected officials visiting restaurants in the middle of stay-at-home orders without wearing a mask.
Other elected officials have flouted local health department advice by gathering with thousands at Bandimere Speedway, where few wore masks.
We have heard them say that statewide mask mandates somehow infringe on their rights, ignoring that placing the health of others infringes on the rights of so many innocent Coloradans. They have even sued the state government for its attempts to protect public health.
Despite advice from our public health leaders to practice social distancing and wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence continue to refuse to wear masks in public.
Pence leads the White House’s coronavirus task force, yet he toured the Mayo Clinic without a mask on April 28 (that same day, the U.S. reached one million COVID-19 cases).
Recently, we have learned the alarming fact that President Trump knew back in February that this virus is spread through the air and five times deadlier than the flu.
Amid lies and conspiracy theories, our light at the end of the tunnel is scientific innovation and trust in experts. Thanks to round-the-clock collaboration between the public and private sectors, there are several COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in development.
One, for example, blocks the novel coronavirus from binding to human cells and reproducing; by stopping the virus from connecting with human cells, the drug prevents it from multiplying and attacking the body.
There are more than 100 different vaccines at various stages of development, and researchers are using different avenues such as gene therapy, DNA and antibodies from survivors to develop an effective vaccine.
U.S. health care innovation has saved millions of lives. HIV is now a manageable disease, no longer a death sentence. Thanks to developments in early-detection mammogram technology, female breast cancer cases dropped by 40% in 2016.
We now have a drug that can treat over 90% of Hepatitis C patients, whereas older drugs took nearly a year to become effective and even then only worked on 50% of patients.
And vaccines have saved the health of millions by preventing once-fatal illnesses. History teaches us that our best bet is to support the researchers working to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
We owe it to the frontline essential workers — our grocery store workers, health care workers, sanitation services, public transit operators and so many more — risking their lives every day to do better in this pandemic.
We need to ignore disinformation, whether it comes from the internet or the White House and follow the advice of our public health professionals.
We need more medical professionals and scientists to run for office to be that expert voice to help stop the spread of misinformation before it starts. Supporting and investing in their research and innovation will get us through this crisis.
Dr. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, is a pediatrician and represents House District 31 in the Colorado House of Representatives.
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