Brea McClung: National leadership needed in crisis

Published 12:10 am Saturday, August 15, 2020

I am a teacher — a history teacher, but today we are also going to look at science.

My parents are both in the hospital with COVID-19. My mom is in ICU. In lieu of the school restart and my personal circumstance, I want to do a lesson with you using the scientific method to further your understanding of what is about to occur.

I will finish this lesson with history, so please pay close attention.

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Step number one of the scientific method is to ask a question. Here is ours: Is reopening school safe?

Step number two is background research. There has been a very limited amount of studies done in this realm. There has never been a reopening of schools with the virus levels which currently exist in the United States. Some of the research suggests younger children may be less likely to spread the infection, though the risk is not zero.

Children older than 10 spread at the same rate as adults. The bulk of evidence does show us that limiting occupancy and creating social distancing along with masking can greatly reduce the spread of the virus. Currently, many districts have a five day a week option, this greatly lessens the ability to social distance. The CDC at the federal level lessened restrictions, even though the rate of infections and hospitalizations are higher than they were when schools were closed in March.

Step number three of the scientific method is generating a hypothesis; currently the state of Ohio has issued local control to our health departments and you are at the mercy as to what the higher ups believe. Here is their hypothesis: Going back to school will not cause an increase in infection.

The fourth and fifth steps are to make a prediction and to test that prediction. This is where our children, teachers and faculty become human lab rats. They are hoping to prove their hypothesis to be true, but what if this is a science experiment gone awry?

The last steps of this experiment will be the conclusion and results. Will you allow your child to be subjected to this clinical trial? The result of this experiment could be the death of loved ones, as many children currently reside in homes with older family members, especially in Appalachia. Here is where I will insert a personal story with Covid-19.

Both of my parents have Covid-19, as I stated earlier. My mom came down with symptoms on July 16. She thought she possibly had an inner ear infection. When she went to the doctor they did a COVID-19 test just as a precaution, but she was told that was most likely not her problem. They gave her a Z-Pak and sent her home. It took 10 days for her test to come back positive.

Ten days in the United States of America is unacceptable. During that 10-day period, she returned to the doctor multiple times. Finally, on her last visit to the ER, she was admitted and was already in liver failure. She could not take the drug Remdesiver because her liver had been attacked by the COVID-19. She is currently on a heparin drip to prevent blood clots and 14 liters of oxygen. She has pneumonia in both lungs. My mom had no underlying health issues.

My dad then went and was tested at KDMC, and his results came back in less than 24 hours. He was positive and, at first, just felt like he had the flu. He, too, progressively got worse until he was admitted in the ER, where he laid for 19 hours on a cot because St. Mary’s did not have a COVID-19 room ready. He also has pneumonia, due to the COVID-19, and is on oxygen, steroids, and antibiotics. The only place my parents go is the grocery store and church.

I now call the hospital every three hours to check on them because we cannot go visit. This virus has been physically and emotionally exhausting.

To those of you who believe COVID-19 is a hoax or a political sham, I assure you it is not.

Next, here is your history/government part of our lesson. Hang with me for the tie in.

Federalism is a concept you should have learned in government or civics class. It is the system our founding fathers put in place which give governance to both the federal government and to the states.

Article VI of the our constitution makes the federal government the supreme law of the land. In Article I, Section 8, it allows Congress to make all laws they deem as necessary and proper, and the 10th Amendment assures that anything not in our constitution is left up to the states.

The president is also given power to carry out the laws in Article II. Here is the lesson we all need to hear. We needed a national response to COVID-19.

A true leader would have given us federal guidance that all 50 states would have followed. We needed better testing. This should have came from the federal government. There is no excuse why my mom’s test took 10 days.

Leadership has led our country during many times of crisis. FDR spoke to the American public during the Great Depression using fireside chats. He reassured them he was doing everything in his power to save America. George W. Bush was in the streets of New York on a megaphone addressing the American people and assuring them things were going to be alright in the aftermath of 9/11. Presidents, if they use their power correctly, can create a rallying around the flag affect.

This president uses coronavirus press conferences to run for re-election and talk about the stock market. I read a tweet from him yesterday where he said to open schools. I watch as he brags about large gatherings of people. It is appalling and disgusting. I can no longer accept this as leadership. The attitude of the country is affected by a president. This president downplayed a pandemic on more than one occasion. This is not fake news, look it up.

I have several reasons which personally make me find the president distasteful. I could go on about how he dodged the draft by faking bone spurs, how he mocked a disabled reporter, how he has multiple sexual allegations against him, how he has filed bankruptcy, how he uses our tax dollars to build a wall when most illegal immigrants fly here, how he created a fake university and scammed thousands of dollars from everyday folks who had to sue him, his connection to Jefferey Epstein a serial child predator, his comments about Vietnam war veteran John McCain, the transcripts where he tried to bribe a foreign nation for political dirt on an opponent (I read them), how I have listened to him call women and others nasty names, how he and his sons speak ill of public school teachers, but, at the end of the day, the one I am going to focus on is the one which affects me most, his response to the coronavirus, which I personally am affected by.

If you are pro-life, I urge you to put country above party. 158,000 people have died on this president’s watch. This is simply not OK. The effects of a lack of leadership will be long standing. You must put country above party when a president is a threat to our democracy and our loved ones. Stop watching Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, they all offer up their own poison only the color of the cup is different. Watch C-Span, research candidates’ personal pages, read the U.S. constitution, the one our president referred to as having 10 articles, when there are only seven.

We must make choices to protect our children and our families, and sometimes that means we have to remove the threat from our lives. We will get that chance in November.

Brea McClung, of Lawrence County, has taught American history for 20 years in Gallia County public schools.