We have shared a lifetime of surviving life-threatening viruses. We had the polio virus from the 1950s into the ‘90s, the Asian flu (H2N2 virus) in 1957, the Hong Kong flu (H3N2 virus) in 1968, the 1977 Russian flu (H1N1 resurgent) virus, AIDS from 1981 to present, the 2009-10 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, the 2015 Zika flu virus, and today’s COVID-19 virus.

All of these epidemics and pandemics caused sickness and death. Until now, the country never went into a cocoon.

Prior to the COVID-19 virus, this country had never suspended the constitutional rights of its citizens in the name of public health. We didn’t quarantine healthy people, we quarantined sick people. We didn’t close down businesses of industry, or forbid people from congregating in churches, mosques or synagogues to pray. History shows we never suspended the Constitution with the goal of preventing people from getting sick.

Dr. Anthony Fauci declared a shutdown was necessary to slow the infection rate of the new virus to prevent hospitals from being overrun with patients and research continues to find a cure.

During the AIDS epidemic, he remained staunchly committed to finding a cure through the established pharmaceutical pipeline while thousands died and an uninformed American majority supported a quarantine of people infected with AIDS and several states were considering drafting quarantine regulations. Militant activists finally convinced Fauci to allow the experimental use of drugs. This led to the rediscovery of AZT, which was developed in 1964 to treat cancer. It proved initially effective against AIDS. Today, Fauci does not support the use of hydroxychloroquine, the medicine being taken by President Trump and used by Congressman Mike Kelly to treat his infection with COVID-19.

The bureaucrats at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using exaggerated statistical models based on faulty data, convinced our president and national media of the need for draconian action. Models projecting high hospitalization and mortality rates were accepted and the country was shut down. The projections proved untrue and our hospitals were never overrun.

Prompted by a Meadville Tribune article, I contacted the president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, the association’s legislative liaison and individual coroners. I learned the Pennsylvania Department of Health was advising hospitals, physicians and emergency responders not to notify coroners of suspected COVID-19 deaths. CDC attorneys defended their agency’s actions by declaring such deaths were natural and coroners had no jurisdiction.

The Coroner’s Law, Section 1218-B-7 provides that coroners shall investigate all deaths known or suspected to be due to contagious disease and constituting a public hazard. Section 1221-B, Sudden Deaths, provides that coroners must investigate the deaths of those persons not under the immediate care of a physician. The DOH was preventing coroners and medical examiners from performing their duties. Why? They want to control the data, the numbers and hide their bureaucratic incompetency.

Federal directives allow a death to be certified as “probably” due to COVID-19 if the decedent had a respiratory infection and may have been exposed to someone who had the virus. On April 14, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unilaterally declared 3,778 deaths as “probably” due to the COVID-19 virus, raising the city’s total to over 10,000. Without testing, the numbers are false. For example, in Crawford County, more than 800 people displayed symptoms but tested negative for the virus. You need tests to be sure.

Coroners I talked to obtained specimens and submitted them for analysis. If positive, the death was certified as due to COVID-19. If negative, the death was certified as due to acute respiratory failure (pneumonia). Coroners then noted on the death certificate, “Non COVID-19 related.” Those same coroners told me Pennsylvania vital statistics employees are removing the notation as they enter the death certificate information into their computer program. A similar data tracking program used by the CDC is considered so bad that COVID-19 cases and deaths are believed to be inflated as much as 25 percent. The Coroners Association agrees.

Coroners have also learned that some physicians have been ordered to certify deaths as caused by COVID-19. There are monetary incentives for doing so. Medicare reimburses hospitals and nursing homes approximately $5,000 per patient. However, if a person’s death is certified as due to the COVID-19 virus, the reimbursement rises to $13,000, and if the patient dies while on a ventilator, the reimbursement rises to $39,000.

Quarantining the seriously ill to prevent them from infecting others makes sense. Isolating the medically infirm in our hospitals or immunocompromised patients residing in our nursing homes makes sense. Something our state leaders did not exercise. While ordering the healthy to hunker down at home, our governor and leaders of the DOH ordered the acceptance of known COVID-19 carriers by nursing homes housing our most vulnerable citizens. The results: nearly 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in those facilities.

We cannot know how virulent this virus is without testing every citizen. Most carriers of the virus are asymptomatic or have symptoms so minor they are ignored. This not necessarily a bad thing. It shows that most people infected with this disease are not “sick.” Can they infect others? Maybe, but aren’t they doing that already? Do we quarantine for 14 days all who test positive? Then what? They will still be carrying the virus so should we place them in COVID-19 colonies?

Inept politicians and bureaucrats have suspended the federal and state constitutions with the intent of keeping us from getting sick. That is impossible, and history shows it is not necessary. I, for one, want them out of my life. It is time to take back our country.

Patrick W. McHenry is a retired Crawford County coroner and Pennsylvania State Police captain.

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