By Mark Ellis –
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7
His distinctive voice can be heard on the airwaves urging Americans to rise above their fears and meet the challenge of the health pandemic with a scientific, data-driven response.
“We must isolate the few to protect the many instead of isolating the many to protect the few,” says Dr. C. L. Gray, founder of Physicians for Reform, a group seeking to protect the patient-physician relationship. He helped start the Flatten the Fear campaign in response to the Covid pandemic in partnership with The Job Creators Network. Dr. Gray is also on the staff of a hospital in western North Carolina.
In seeking to reform the healthcare system, he got involved with Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential campaigns. He eventually was asked to put together a one-page healthcare plan for President Trump.
After the Covid pandemic hit, he shifted from healthcare policy to dealing with the coronavirus.
“At my own hospital our ER typically treats 180 patients a day,” he notes. “There were times at the peak of the coronavirus that our ER was almost empty. We had to furlough a lot of staff and we all took salary cuts,” he says.
His hospital tripled their ICU beds, expecting a surge based on what was happening in New York, but they never needed the excess capacity.
“There were times we were down to 30 to 40 patients in the hospital because so many people were scared to come in. They were afraid they would get the coronavirus there.”
Sadly, many suffered heart attacks and strokes but never sought treatment. One man had a bowel obstruction, did not get treated, and died. Another woman with leukemia died without care.
“There were many patients who could have received treatment, but didn’t, simply because they were scared.”
Dr. Gray breaks down the available scientific data based on region, age and underlying medical condition. “Ten percent of the counties account for over 90% of the deaths and 40 percent of the counties had no deaths at all from Covid,” he says, based on research conducted by the Heritage Foundation.
“In a county where there hasn’t been a death from Covid, it doesn’t make sense for them to have the same level of shutdown,” he maintains.
Many have noted the age-related risks associated with the coronavirus. “Less than 8% of the deaths come in at people less than 55-years-old. Less than 1% of the deaths are with people under 35. So if you are a younger person in a low risk region, there is an extremely low risk of dying from Covid.”
“The CDC looked at underlying medical conditions and 90% of patients who had Covid and required hospitalization had one of five conditions: obesity, hypertension, heart and lung disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
“So people who are younger and people who are not in a high-risk area are pretty safe to get their lives back,” he says.
While Dr. Gray laments the tremendous toll of the virus, with 120,000 deaths in the U.S., he believes the fear mongering associated with a recent surge in cases is overblown. He examined statistics in Texas and Florida, two states where the media has predicted imminent doom.
“People can lie with statistics,” he notes. “I did research looking at trends over the last month, May 20-June 20. In Texas new cases are up 180%, but daily deaths are flat. There is a zero percent increase in deaths. In Florida, new cases quadrupled, but daily deaths are actually down 13%.
Dr. Gray says the increase in new cases is largely a reflection of increased testing, while in some cases there is an uptick unrelated to testing. “In Florida, they have protected the vulnerable populations in nursing homes. That is where the highest risk is, with elderly patients packed tightly together. If we focus our resources where we know there is risk we will start to get past this.
“The original premise for the economic shutdown was to not overwhelm the U.S. health care system. Working together, the American people have achieved that goal. We have flattened the curve. There is no place in the country that is being overrun by Covid now where they don’t have the capacity to take care of sick people.”
Dr. Gray cites a New York Times op-ed, “How many more will die from fear of the Coronavirus,” dated June 9th, written by Cleveland Clinic CEO Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., and Mayo Clinic CEO Gianrico Farrugia, M.D.
Drs. Mihaljevic and Farrugia point to “sizable decreases” in new cancer diagnoses (45 percent) and reports of heart attacks (38 percent) and strokes (30 percent).
“To prevent further harm, people with serious, complex and acute illnesses must now return to the doctor for care,” they wrote, adding, “The novel coronavirus will not go away soon, but its systemic side effects of fear and deferred care must.”
Dr. Gray concurs, believing fear of Coronavirus may be killing more people than the disease itself. “There may be a quarter million deaths per year if we don’t get back to actually treating patients. That is about double our total deaths from Covid,” he says.
“When we watch people with increased depression and alcohol abuse, increasing suicide rates that go with increasing unemployment, those are all risks we have to weigh against the economic shutdown.”
While Dr. Gray is hopeful for a vaccine, he is also buoyed by the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom (UK) that show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with Covid.
Dexamethasone has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation. “What really kills people with Coronavirus is the cytokine storm that follows when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive. That’s what causes all the damage. So treating with a steroid makes sense,” he reasons.
Using the drug, “the number of deaths from patients on ventilators decreased by one-third. Deaths from patients in the hospital requiring oxygen decreased by 20%. So we are starting to see potential treatments that may be effective,” he says.
When people live in fear, there are other adverse reactions. “Freedom is at stake,” he maintains. “When a population is driven by fear, you see how much of their freedom they are we willing to sacrifice. In terms of elected leadership, it is sad to watch how much they are willing to exploit that fear for increased control. So we have to flatten the fear.”
Because 2020 is a pandemic year as well as an election year, Dr. Gray is concerned about balanced reporting in the media. “It seems there is another agenda in play. Someone has a thumb on the scale. They are just not presenting the numbers and the reality to the American people.
“My effort is to get the information to the American people so they can make informed decisions.”
To learn more about the Flatten the Fear campaign and sign their petition, go here