In his recent letter to the editor, Mike Trottier posed some questions about COVID-19 control measures that "I have not seen ... asked nor answered." I would like to respond from the viewpoint of a veterinarian. That might seem odd, but veterinarians routinely understand and utilize effective infectious disease control principles, whether outbreaks are in herds of cattle, flocks of turkeys, or shelters full of dogs and cats.
Here is a simplified example: In a disease outbreak caused by a virus, antibiotics are off the table because they are not effective against viruses. If an effective vaccine is available, it can be given to uninfected animals in an effort to protect them. If there is no vaccine available, options to control the spread of the disease are more limited, but can still be effective.
What we are left with is application of steps to interrupt the transfer of viral particles from infected animals to non-infected animals by as many methods as are available. In general, the strategies boil down to environmental hygiene, and avoiding close contact between infected and uninfected animals by physically separating them, and utilizing barriers.
In our present situation with COVID-19, the infectious agent is a highly contagious and potentially deadly coronavirus for which an effective vaccine is not yet available. We can, however, slow the spread of the virus by practicing environmental hygiene (disinfecting surfaces and washing hands), physical separation (social distancing and avoiding groups), and using barriers to impede the transfer of virus particles (masks). It is unfortunate that these potentially effective measures have taken on negative, nonmedical significance to some. They are all we have available right now to protect ourselves and each other, and their effectiveness has been amply demonstrated by the success most other countries have had slowing the spread of the disease through their large-scale application. It is important to note that the more wide-spread and strict the adherence to these infection control measures, the more effective they will be at limiting the transfer of the virus.
I agree wholeheartedly with Trottier's suggestion that everyone should vote in the Nov. 3rd general election. I disagree with his statement, however, that "This [election] is about right and wrong, good versus evil." I believe, instead, that the election offers us the opportunity to elect officials who will implement effective strategies to control the viral pandemic that is sickening and killing Americans, and making it impossible for us to get our schools businesses, and activities back on track.