Dr. Rashid Abdu, MD is a General Surgeon at multiple hospitals around Youngstown, Ohio. He has been in practice for more than 50 years, as well as holding the Director of Surgery Education position at St. Elizabeth Health Center, part of Northeast Ohio Medical University. Abdu, MD was also a consultant to the minister of health in Yemen, where he helped design medical education in the country. The views expressed in this piece may not represent the editorial opinions of the Yemeni American News.
Dear Mr. President: Four months ago, when COVID-19 started to invade the United State, you said that you were a “war president”, and rightly so. Actually, you became the president of World War III.
The difference is that in World War III, the enemy is invisible. It does not use tanks, jets, bullets, missiles or bombs to kill and destroy; rather, it effectively uses lethal “gas” that kills the lungs, not much different from what Hitler used over London during World War II. A 22-year-old woman dying from COVID-19 in an ICU, was lucky enough to get a lung transplant. Her lungs, instead of being light and pink, were solid and black, resembling a liver. No respirator could ever force air into such an organ. This enemy does not destroy buildings, roads or bridges, rather it renders factories idle, unemployment high, and the economy crippled.
To put things in perspective, during the 4 years of World War I, we lost 116,516 lives. During the 4 years of World War II, we lost 419,400 lives. During World War III, we have lost more than 137,000 lives in 5 months.
President Woodrow Wilson during WWI, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt during WWII, met with their generals, and decided on a plan of action to defeat the enemy. And the enemy was defeated in both wars.
However, Mr. President, you couldn’t meet with generals in a military sense. Instead, you met with “generals”, experts, not in the conventional battlefield, but experts in the laboratory, the intensive care units, and COVID-19. These were the epidemiologists, infectious disease specialist, virologists, and those experts in Public Health that you couldn’t meet. As a war president, you became the commander in chief, with the authority to analyze, plan and execute what had to be done to defeat this invisible and universal enemy.
You, Mr. President, did not have the luxury to select only the young, healthy and strong, as your battlefield solders, as in previous conventional wars. Rather every one of us became a solder by default. As solders in this huge battlefield, our beloved United States of America, we expected to have national directives from you, as our Commander in chief on how to collectively defeat this enemy.
Wearing masks, distancing, could not be optional any more than not wearing seatbelts when driving a car. There is nothing in the constitution that said that I had the right to engage in an activity that threatens my health, or the health of my fellow citizens.
Because we are free to travel from state to state, we cannot afford the status quo. It has been a roller coaster, and it will continue to be so, with more lives lost, and a crippled economy. This is not a local, or a state problem, it is a national problem that requires a national solution.
So please, Mr. President, as our Commander in Chief, make this your finest hour, and issue an executive order to make masks, distancing and crowd size limitation mandatory. As our President, and Commander in Chief, it is your duty to protect us, even from ourselves.
Rashid Abdu, M.D.