COVID at cross-roads: Idaho needs a new approach

COVID at cross-roads: Idaho needs a new approach

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
September 10, 2021
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
Author Image
September 10, 2021

By Dr. John Livingston & Fred Birnbaum

The recent events in Afghanistan has us thinking: Is Idaho fighting its last war – on Covid?

The reason for this question is simple: Most policies, programs, and plans are reactive and not proactive. A 20-year expenditure of blood and treasure in Afghanistan unraveled in about 11 days. What was missing in the minds of so many highly educated people that they didn’t foresee this outcome? 

Rather than answering that question, ask yourself the same question with respect to Idaho’s management of Covid-19. How do we as Americans, and Idahoans, avoid a similar policy debacle? 

With groupthink governing the healthcare landscape, it is time to hit the pause button. We believe that just beating the vaccine drum does not make sense.

Here are the facts on the ground in Idaho: 

  • Roughly half of the adult population (18 or over) is fully vaccinated, roughly 76% of our seniors are fully vaccinated, and roughly 14% of the adult population has had confirmed or probable Covid-19. 
  • The latter number is just based on testing data and can’t capture the numbers of those who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms and were not tested. 
  • Since mid-July, virtually all the positive tests for Covid have revealed the Delta variant, according to the sampling on the state database.
  • And while much has been said about the shortage of ICU beds, it is not clear whether this is a staffing issue or an overall resource issue. Beginning on September 3, the ICU bed capacity is based on staffed, adult ICU beds. 
  • And finally, daily deaths are down more than 50 percent from the disease peak. But daily case counts this September are actually higher than a year ago when there was no vaccine available.

Have we made real progress or are the cycles of the disease and the variants impervious to our latest war strategy? We ask this not to disparage the many professionals working to minimize the suffering of Idahoans but because the push for vaccines has hit a wall. Those who want it can get it, and those who don’t shouldn’t be forced to get it or face punishments like losing their livelihood.

Another open item for debate is the strength of natural immunity compared to the vaccine. But which vaccine and after how many doses? Suffice it to say that the debate is not closed and can’t be settled in this article. But it does call into question the relentless push to get everyone vaccinated. 

For example, those under 30 years of age in Idaho make up 37 percent of the positive tested cases of Covid but only 0.3 of one percent of the deaths. That equates to eight deaths out of 83,856 tested cases for those under 30  – just over 10 percent of this age group’s population. 

If you are under 30, your chances of dying from Covid-19 are simply too small to measure. And despite all the stories about risk to the general population, this disease impacts the elderly most; 77% of those that have died in Idaho are 70 and older. The mean age of all Covid deaths in Idaho is not far below the state’s average life expectancy.

We are addressing the predicate for the actions taken by the state of Idaho.  When a public health model is the starting point for making recommendations regarding the way people should live, work, learn, and worship, then prudence demands an explanation of why data is presented in a homogenous fashion without delving deeper into the various subgroups of citizens and how mitigation should be directed toward individual at-risk patients instead of the total populace.  

Those over 70, those with comorbid conditions, and the immunocompromised should seriously consider being vaccinated. Those who have antibodies from being naturally infected or vaccinated are theoretically at higher risk for hyperimmune reactions from subsequent vaccination. Young girls who may someday want to become pregnant may also want to consider the possible and yet unknown impact that some vaccines have on ovarian function.

If the goal of vaccination is mass compliance, then the public health model may be the predicate for action. If the goal of treatment is the wellbeing of the individual patient, then a more selective application of the science needs to be considered. And that must include therapeutics and the advice needed for otherwise healthy individuals to boost their immune systems – or history will just repeat itself when the next variant comes along.

View Comments
  • KJ says:

    The goal of vaccination is mass compliance. The same with mask wearing. I have used asbestos breathing gear that filters out the smallest particles. The same gear would not keep you safe from a virus. So this idiot fauci first said masks don't work then flip-flops and say they do work. Not possible. But then America is mostly made up of sheep. They never had to do without.

    As to the governor, he is 'just following orders'.

  • Bee says:

    ''Idaho Gov. Brad Little also issued a statement, although it is unclear if the governor is planning legal action''

    LITTLE ''r'' puts his finger in the wind.
    He has no balls...and MUST be replaced.

  • Bee says:

    This is not about a virus. This is about Big pharma getting billions of dollars on annual inoculations³,  PCR testing etc., and politicians ''high'' on tyranny maneuvers. My doctor just told me Fred Myer and Rite-Aid will not fill prescriptions he writes for Ivermectin! Apparently inexpensive theraputics that WORK are not what ''they'' will support.  So Gov. Brad LITTLE 'r' why are you quiet? Could it be you're getting sucked into the tyranny hole? ''Come on man,''  STAND UP; I'd rather not move my family to Montana or Florida just because we have a the wrong governor. #fightback

  • Al says:

    Fred, a year ago you staunchly defended adherence to the Great Barrington Declaration. And the GBD supported vaccination. Yet IFF, and in particular Wayne Hoffman and even more so your buddy Janice McGeachin, have been hell-bent on convincing people vaccines kill people and are equivalent to Nuremburg experiments. By any means necessary, including McGeahins ridiculous interpretation of scientific journals. Maybe she needs to revisit the decontamination booth idea she wanted Idaho to spend millions on last year.
    Perhaps self-reflection and consistency by the IFF would be the first step in a plan out of this pandemic. Oops, i forgot, there is no "pandemic", i really dont know what you guys want to call this terrible calamity that has killed hundreds of thousands in both hemispheres.

    • Bruce Hendricks says:

      Perhaps you should take your advice and spend some time in self-reflection. Its nonsense after 18 months to continue to state that thousands have died from the virus. Even your go to source for all things Covid, the CDC, have stated that only a small fraction of deaths attributed to the virus are as a result of those deaths being from virus.

      So continue to sit in front of the tee vee and listen intently to every word coming out of Pope Fauci's (your buddy) mouth.

  • john livingston says:

    Those over 70, those with comorbid conditions, and the immunocompromised should seriously consider being vaccinated. Those who have antibodies from being naturally infected or vaccinated are theoretically at higher risk for hyperimmune reactions from subsequent vaccination. We are not anti vax. Reading the article before you comment may be approptiate.

    • Al says:

      How kind of you to respond on behalf of Mr. Birnbaum, Dr. Livingston. Yes, indeed I read the article. Entirely. And probably with more scrutiny than most readers, I'd dare say.
      1. The GBD said vaccine supports the goal of herd immunity. It didn't qualify that to only the vulnerable, as you do.
      2. Do you really think this article white-washes the harm that Wayne Hoffman, McGeahin and their ilk (I notice that's a favorite word of Wayne's) have done in sowing distrust in vaccines? Yes, I read your comment but after weeks of ICU's being overrun and some hospitals in Idaho resorting to crisis-care management, I personally blame Wayne Hoffman and McGeahin as contributors to the distrust of vaccines. And why shouldn't I? They've been explicit about it, haven't they? How is your qualified endorsement to people with cormorbidities or immunocompromised conditions to seriously consider the vaccine a counter to Wayne?
      3. And even in your article (again, I have read it....) you sow distrust of the vaccine in a subtle way, "If the goal of vaccination is mass compliance...".
      Of course that's not the goal of vaccination. But by raising it, even you and Fred cause doubt of the vaccination. Doubt me? Read KJ's comment, above. Arguably, there are some government heads pushing for mass compliance, i.e. Biden's recent plan to push vaccines on federal employees and corporations over 100 employees. But the GOAL isn't mass compliance; that's the MEANS to accomplish the goal of....well, it could herd immunity, eradication of COVID, or whatever the goal is.
      4. There is no such "mass compliance" issue in Idaho in any event. Gov Little is even joining in with other states to try to challenge Biden. Your article is focused on Idaho so this makes the "If the goal is..." even more tempting for conspiracy theorists among your readers jump on the perpetual bandwagon of theories they have.
      5. Regarding your statement, "We are not anti vax". I didn't say you and Fred were, if that's what you mean. I said IFF is. I have read Wayne Hoffman's articles. Remember how I asked you to chime in and in the comments you even stated that you might anger some of your conservative allies and you stated you differ with them and you stated your support for vaccinations and you have received one.
      Therein is why I said consistency and self-reflection is something IFF (not you or Fred) should be doing. I have not only read the article, my friend, I also remember other articles and comments.

      • Al says:

        And, Dr. Livingston, if I sound ticked off, then you're probably accurately reading my mood. A long-time friend of mine; a friend of my parents , whom I've known since childhood, just died. Of COVID. She was 79 and didn't want to take an "experimental" vaccination.
        Where have I heard those words???? Oh, yeah, now I remember, it was the IFF...

        • john livingston says:

          I am truly sorry to hear of your friends passing AL. I am sure that her physcian recommended that she be vaccinated but it was certainly her choice not to be vaccinated and that is the point. I recently lost a friend who was the captian of my college football team. He was overweight and diabetic. What I find almost ironic is that only 5%of people who die from the disease have no co-morbid factors and are under 70 years of age. What that tells me is that there are many people who are obesse, hypertensive, diabetic, have high cholesterol----all far more preventable conditions than Covid-19. If they---me included had paid as much attention to their own health as they do to Covid mitigation not so many people would have died. In fact one could say that many die with Covid as much as from Covid. Individual health is also a private choice that should be respected. We individually determine more than any other factor----including traumatic deaths where 60% are caused by drugs or alcohol, how we live and how we die---even if we die from Covid-19. Those at risk should be vacinated---especially the elderly and immunecompromised or those living in close proximity to those groups. It should always be their choice.

          • Al says:

            I dont disagree with anything you just said, dr.
            But IFF seems to fail to understand, or just flat-out chooses to ignore, that when you (IFF) speak disparagingly about the vaccine, eg hoffman equating it to experimental tests akin to Nuremburg, and McGeachin telling people the vaccine increases mortality rate, then IFF has contributed to distrust in the vaccine. By everyone, including those who need it most.
            You again talk all around the points i ever raise.
            IFF is harming people. Vulnerable people who may otherwise trust their physicians are hearing the disinformation about the vaccine and dont heed sound advice.

          • john livingston says:

            Al-- Written like a true liberal. People can read anything they want. It is not what they read that puts them at risk, but what actions they persue that puts them at risk. If they read IFF posts and eat three doughnuts a day it is not the posts that are slowly doing them in. Same thing with ETOH, smoking, drugs, and driving too fast. There are lots of articles that people read everyday that warn them about doing these things. By your logic people are not responsible or accountable for their actions, rather "the devil (IFF) made me do it." Liberals always try to put the blame on someone or something else rather than taking responsibility for themselves." Thanks for reading my posts and at least thiking about what I write. Writing for people such as yourself is like a Catholic Priest wearing a Roman collar at a fancy restaurant. When they look at the collar even if they don't beleive they at least for a second think about God. Maybe I can give you something to think about. Thanks again for your kind support and readership. jml

          • Al says:

            An ad hominem attack? Who was it that said the surest sign of a weak argument is to attack your opponent personally rather than his argument? I forget, but you're now resorting to the SOP of IFF - like Hoffman calling Winder and Jim Jones "liars" because he doesn't like their opinions.

            Once again you avoid the points I make and decide the most salacious way to attack my argument is to simply call me the dirtiest word imaginable: A Liberal! Gasp!!!!

            I am against Biden's infrastructure proposal. I am against his plan announced this past week to mandate vaccines to federal employees and those working in a company of over 250 employees (or 100 , or whatever it is). I am against MANY Biden plans and have been a Republican since I first voted in the 80's. An MBA. Studied economics, finance and corporation organization. Peruse through my many comments on IFF's website and you'll not see any comment about traditional libertarian issues such as limited government and govt spending.
            I don't take issues with IFF's positions on those and those issues are what got me to first start reading Hoffman's newspaper articles with interest. Nobody who knows me would consider me liberal in the slightest.

            For further defense of my political standing, you go back to Wayne Hoffman's article on Idaho's healthcare systems mandating vaccines. You'll read that I take the view that my conservatism is what supports the hospitals' choices - because I have a long-standing view that private employers are entitled to have free choice in such employment matters. On that issue, government interference, as supported by IFF, is what is typically referred to as "activism", is it not? And in Wayne Hoffman's article about the Idaho Supreme Court's recent decision about the initiatives law, I commented on what I believe to be a conservative position on the judicial branch of our government - they should be separate and unbiased, free from influences from any other branch, from lobbyists, from anything. Wayne supported ideology-resulted court opinions. That's judicial activism.

            So, who's the "liberal"? And why in the world would you think of me that way if not for the lack of a salient argument against my points and you just wanting to attack me personally?

            But being conservative doesn't mean I pledge blind allegiance to anybody. Nobody. And despite your attack on me personally, you never defended my point: That Hoffman has disparaged vaccinations and McGeachin has publicly stated, on official govt paper, that vaccines increase mortality. Am I lying? Am I only saying this because I'm "liberal" or is it truth and truth remains truth no matter what party affiliation I have? He has disparaged vaccines. He has in the past acknowledged that he has a high profile and influence in Idaho. So has McGeachin, who is running for our state's highest office. They are not the only ones who have done harm but they are a part of the harm. As public figures, they have a duty to the public to not be reckless in their statements of fact (McGeachin) or opinion (Hoffman).

            Defend the statements they've made rather than attack me personally. Wouldn't that be more persuasive as well as more tasteful way of debating this issue?

            And ask Fred to respond to my original question - it was addressed to him, was it not? 🙂

          • Al says:

            And, by the way Doc, LOVE your doughnut metaphor. I'm thinking of quoting you the next time McGeachin/Giddings have a public comment session on their Indoctrination Committee-thing.

            "Why blame school officials for what they say? It's not their fault if students are influenced by what they say. They can choose to smoke cigarettes, eat doughnuts, etc. if they want to. Why are we trying to hold the speaker accountable instead of the individuals who can make up their own minds. You guys are just a bunch of liberals - always trying to blame someone...."

            And, yes, for sake of this argument I'll exclude juveniles and limit my point to adults in college - just to beat you to that point.

          • Bruce Hendricks says:

            The companies are not "private" in any meaningful sense. Corporations carry out government edicts in exchange for direct and indirect subsidies, bailouts, and regulations that lead to cartelization of markets and limiting competition.

            I don't agree with it, but government policies don't allow so-called private companies to do a whole host of things.

            Pro-vax advocates would lose (and have) their minds if a "private" company announced that it was not going to implement the sock puppet's "mandate."

          • Fred Birnbaum says:

            Al, there is lots of information on vaccination that raises doubts, including contradictory statements put out by Biden that call the unvaccinated a threat to the vaccinated. Nice try, attempting to pin skepticism on us. I have read the data and we offer a perspective that the Idaho media don’t. Have you queried them on their lack of coverage of the massive Israeli study on vaccination and natural immunity? Why isn’t natural immunity a reasonable alternative to vaccination?

  • K A says:

    Follow the science not the hype...

    Natural immunity is proving to be the best bet for not getting sick, particularly for the non health compromised segment. I am a casestudy in point for that fact. I am unvaxed but have had Covid. My job keeps me in close proximity to my crew 24/7 for the duration of our tours. We have recently had two members test positive and I am negative after being around both those vaxed individuals while working unmasked in close quarters, along with eating with them as well. I will continue to believe in my body's ability to naturally take care of fighting off disease, before I'll take the jab for a vax that still has not been vetted through the normal cycles and been proven safe and effective. Based solely off numbers and available medical care, there is nothing about Covid 19 that qualifies it to give the federal government the power to force vaccination compliance on the public. This is not the Plague or the Spanish Flu where high percentages of the population were dying and they had limited medical capabilities to stop it. This is definitely a power play to control and manipulate US citizens. Follow the science, not the hype...

  • Bruce Hendricks says:

    Good article except for some information that is missing, which should not be the case after 18 months. The test is not reliable, as it yields a large number of false positives. So saying someone has the virus based on this test has to be looked at with skepticism.

    We also need to keep reiterating the undisputed fact that for most people this virus is relatively benign, with a survivability rate of over 99%.
    Idaho's response to Covid has never made sense to me. The state should have emulated South Dakota, which allowed people to assess the risk to them of getting the virus and take appropriate measures. No governor should have the power to decide who is an "essential" worker and who is not, especially not in a supposedly conservative state.

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