To The Editor: 

I have just finished reading an opinion piece by a colleague and a person I consider a friend, Dr. Pat Ball. I have always thought highly of Pat and in normal times I would totally agree with him, we should live life to the fullest every day. Unfortunately, these are not normal times. Not many of us have lived through a pandemic, so these are unchartered waters.

Science and statistics are how we decide what is going to have the best chance of helping a patient, which antibiotic is statistically going to work to defeat a certain bacteria, or what collection of medicines are going to work best for a patient’s heart failure, to name a few.

Now the patient is our country, and what are we going to do to save its people? Yes, I know we have to get back to work before we are in financial ruin. But my fellow Americans, which is what this country is all about, are what I am concerned about. I agree we need to be our own person and make up our own minds, but we need to do it with more facts.

I would love to take my long-suffering wife out to a restaurant and a movie, but not at the possible cost of our health or the health of those within six feet of us, not to mention our colleagues – the nurses, doctors, and other vital staff members in the ER.

We are at war, again. This time with a microscopic organism that you can’t shoot or bomb. As our grandparents sacrificed during World War II with shortages, we have to make sacrifices. Our only weapon in our arsenal right now is social distancing.

COVID-19 is not the flu, it is much more virulent. It rolled across this country faster than I have seen any disease do in my 30+ years as a physician.

Do I agree with Pat – no. Do I respect him – yes. We may be on two sides of a fence, but a fence is a good place to start a conversation.


Dr. Russ Hartwick