The rising number of coronavirus cases warrant concern among citizens of Oakland and Ingham counties. President-elect Joe Biden emphasized his coronavirus attack plan as a pivotal part of his platform — and residents of Oakland and Ingham counties react to Biden’s proposed plan as illustrated in this graphic:
Oakland County, the hardest hit by COVID-19 in Michigan, has over 50,000 cases.
Residents of Oakland and Ingham counties, more interested in expanding conversations outside of Biden’s plan, shared perspectives on the vaccines, the media’s role in testing, personal protective equipment and even pandemic economics.
Promote free testing
Dani Wyzgoski, a resident physician at the Detroit Medical Center, said she would like to see more guidelines and regulations from Biden’s COVID-19 plan regarding testing.
“More widespread testing needs to be available,” Wyzgoski said. “I think there should be mandates of when we need to get tested, when we need to quarantine, right now it’s pretty arbitrary. The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has a set of guidelines but that doesn’t mean everybody listens to them, so I’d like to see more solid guidelines on what quarantining means and what exposure means.”
News media coverage
While healthcare workers like Wyzgoski share information with their patients, Wyzgoski said the media carries more weight in distributing information, especially regarding a political plan of action.
“We know things as health care workers, but I don’t know that the information is readily available across all news outlets,” she said. “I think it needs to be a little more clear.
Wyzgoski said the main point of conflict is that staying safe can mean something different for everyone. She said making information about free COVID-19 testing more available would keep citizens more informed and in turn — safer.
“We’re talking free screening, prevention, whatever it be, that just doesn’t happen,” Wyzgowski said. “Unfortunately, that is not a reality in medicine, so the fact that getting tested if you have insurance is free needs to be more widely known.”
Frontline workers share goals
Wyzgoski said healthcare workers have goals that align with what a majority of Americans want from a COVID-19 plan.
“I think we need to get back to ‘okay fine if we’re tired of it, we need to stay inside, we need to do things like what we were doing back in March — because things haven’t gotten any better,” Wyzgoski said. “They got better for a while and then things escalated again, so I think that from a healthcare worker standpoint, we just want people to stay safe.”
Emergency rooms and other medical facilities look drastically different in 2020. Bradley Garrett, a Sparrow Clinton Hospital St. John’s staff physician, said Americans may be confused by different “facts” they hear in the news, but we are truly watching the scientific process roll out in front of us.
Garrett, the medical director in the emergency department of his facility, said he has felt the impact as both a doctor and a leader in his facility. The Okemos, Michigan resident said his schedule and lifestyle have become more intense in all aspects.
“Sparrow is lucky to have had adequate personal protective equipment throughout the pandemic,” Garrett said. “Something that should have happened long before now is properly invoking the [Defense Production Act] to produce personal protective equipment in a more efficient and widespread manner.
The need for equipment like masks in hospitals is prevalent nationwide, but not every state is requiring masks outside of medical facilities. Garrett said that Biden’s idea of a nationwide mask mandate is essential to public health improvement.
“Simple cloth masks, even when they are only two layers, can prohibit transmission of COVID-19 particles,” Garrett said. “I hope President-elect Biden sees the distribution of a vaccine; issues mask mandate; and practices more uniform distribution of care to all states, not just states that agree with the current administration.”
Rozzie Bloch, a medical student attending MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, said she has similar predictions about the future effects of this pandemic.
“Although I think the president does have an influence on the COVID-19 pandemic and its overall outcomes, I think it’s more reasonable to say that cases will go down when we see a vaccine that’s released publicly,” Bloch said. “Realistically, that won’t be for a number of mouths going forward.”
During the pandemic, Bloch said she researched whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines had a living piece of the virus in them or a dead piece.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will not have a live or dead piece of the virus in it, but rather a protein on the outside of the COVID virus called the Spike Protein,” Bloch said. “Scientists have been able to replicate [the spike protein] in the lab, and that’s what’s actually being injected into you.”
Despite public concerns, Meridian Township resident Kevin Kirby said he is hopeful that positive change will come in 2021, whether it is entirely due to Biden’s plan or not.
“With more COVID-19 cases appearing every day, and the vaccine expected to come in a few months, I don’t think that President-elect Biden’s administration will be the main reason why the virus slows down and eventually is eradicated,” Kirby said. “I think at this point, it won’t hurt to get a new set of minds in the White House working on ending this pandemic.”
Future medical professionals look ahead
Medical students are experiencing rigorous change in the field of public health, and premed student Cooper Myers said his human biology major at Michigan State University enhances his drive to learn about the ins and outs of this pandemic.
“I agree with Biden’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic to restore trust, credibility, and the purpose of public health and safety to stop the pandemic and to save lives,” Myers said.
While Myers is looking forward to seeing what is to come in medicine, he said he also thinks there were some successes in President Trump’s COVID-19 plan.
“I think that the Trump administration’s plan to allow each state to come up with a plan suitable for them was okay,” Myers said. “I think that Operation Warp Speed, which has a goal to provide an effective vaccine by January 2021, therapeutics, and diagnostics to the American people has already saved lives and is effective.”
Myers said he also has his own ideas of what the COVID-19 plan should be and thinks that the ideal plan might not directly involve politicians.
“As a pre-med student, I want to see public health officials and scientists’ recommendations used first and made a priority,” Myers said. “I want the people who know how to stop the spread of diseases to be the ones creating policies for fighting COVID-19 — not politicians.”
The economic side of Biden’s plan
Biden’s COVID-19 plan isn’t just about our health care system or political agendas. According to the Pew Research Center, the economy was the most important issue to voters in the 2020 presidential election.
Ingham county small business-owner and Oakland county native Stephanie Quillico said she is worried about the economic effects Biden’s plan will have on her business.
“I sadly believe that Biden’s coronavirus plan will not have a positive affect on my small business,” Quillico said. “If he ends up raising our taxes in order to help another area of his plan, my business won’t be able to sustain itself.”
Dance is considered group fitness, so as the owner of a dance studio, Quillico said she has experienced multiple shutdowns. The young business owner said she reached out to both Republican and Democratic local and state government agencies, and found a lack of clarity, direction and assistance for her small business.
“Every politician says they want to help, but when push comes to shove, the aide simply isn’t there,” Quillico said. “Biden’s plan will have to filter through too many avenues; by the time our Michigan government agrees on something, my small business will have been closed for good.”