Back in March of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, we wrote a simple blog post to share some perspectives on the phenomenon we were watching unfold in front of us.
Now, with the winter season beginning, we are seeing a new wave of cases across the country and right here in our area. I thought it would be good to revisit my initial post and add some commentary where needed. I’ll add the new content in italics below the original paragraph.
Along with all of you, we have been monitoring the ongoing situation regarding the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting respiratory illness COVID-19. The impact of the efforts to contain and slow the transmission of this disease vector is dramatically impacting virtually all aspects of our day-to-day life.
We recognize that you have placed your trust in our team to help you navigate a wide variety of issues related to your health. Because of this, we have been contemplating how we might share a personal message with you that goes beyond basic logistical concerns.
First and foremost, this unprecedented situation is very dynamic and therefore, our responses to this situation may change. We promise to keep you well informed.
It turns out that the fact that the scientific community has had to learn along the way with this virus has been a very difficult problem. Acting without a lot of information at first, many officials aired their opinions about matters that were proven not to be correct. While this is understandable to most people, this has created a field-day for those who have hypothesized that this was a planned event and created enough doubt that otherwise clear-thinking people started to question just about everything they heard from “experts”. What we all wanted was a perfect set of facts to trust, but since that wasn’t an option, many people began to distrust just about all sources of information. And in a perverse sort of twist, the more credentialed and vetted the expert, the more convinced some people were that their information wasn’t credible.
The general mechanisms of viral contagion are well understood and we applaud the necessary public health measures that have been taken to minimize and slow down the number of people who are exposed, so as not to overwhelm our local medical system. The unintended side effect of these drastic measures has been a high level of fear, anxiety, and worry, which are proven to not only cause a dramatic lowering of our immune function but also tend to bring out the worst in human behavior.
This sort of knee-jerk response is to be expected. According to a recent quote from Dr. Samuel Veissiere, “The human mind is really, really, really bad at estimating the statistical probabilities of anything…And human minds have evolved to have specific cravings for…information…about potential threats or danger.” Also, it is a well-known fact that when we experience stress and fear, we also experience some level of disconnect from the frontal cortex of our brains and instead operate from our limbic “emotional” brain centers. This often leads to poor long-term decision making.
It seems that we are programmed to have an initial general “over-reaction” to danger. The purpose of that initial reaction is simply to get us to a safer place where we can gather more information and strategize a much more precise and nuanced long-term adaptation. Of course, we are all witnessing this phenomenon on a global scale right now. We’d suggest that now is a perfect time for all of us to take regular inventory of what part of our brain is running our decisions. Are we operating rationally and with intention, or are we reacting out of fear, greed, and survival?
Although it feels like there is less panic on the streets now than there was in March, I’m not sure that many people are yet operating from a position of rationality and intention. Instead, we seem to have been distracted by certain aspects of our situation without really getting down to the most important parts. We have waged social media wars with our “friends” about the merits of wearing masks, without taking much personal action towards improving our personal health. It appears that mask-wearing may have a small but significant impact on the transmission of the virus but it pales in comparison to other factors like ventilation/airflow, duration of exposure, and the number of people you are in close proximity with. (For a great visualization of these factors, click here.) And all of these factors only address the risk of exposure. There are many other factors that impact one’s susceptibility and immune response once infected. (I’ve written multiple posts on these aspects, the latest just last week.) These are the areas that we have the greatest control over and should be dominating the discussion. Instead…crickets.
We’re fairly confident in saying that there has never been a time in our lives where more people are as concerned about the functional status of their immune system as they are right now. That may turn out to be a good thing in the long run. Over the millennia that our human immune systems have been developing, they have evolved very sophisticated and nuanced responses to potential threats to our survival. When our immune system is initially exposed to a threat, it mounts an immediate, wide-spread general response. Then within 72 hours or so, it begins to trigger a variety of mechanisms that create a very targeted response by producing antibodies that are specific to the pathogen.
Our nervous system and our immune system are teaching us the valuable lesson that long-term learning and immunity are the results of rational, measured, and precise responses over time.
When our data collection systems are working correctly, our bodies make more intelligent decisions over time. I was hoping that this simple observation at the individual level might be a model for what our society could do. Unfortunately, our collective response hasn’t become more rational, nuanced, and precise over time. When half of the population can’t trust the information they are receiving, the populace can’t respond collectively. Our societal “immune system” defense can’t mount any coherent response.
As of today, we are aware of only 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Davis county. That number is quite likely to grow over the coming days, weeks, or months. At this point, we feel confident that the benefit of receiving health-promoting services in our office far outweighs any added risks of exposure to this virus beyond any other local travel. Therefore, we plan to continue to operate our practice with only a few minor alterations.
Well, we wish this was the case still today but obviously it isn’t. We are seeing dramatic increases in the cases in our area. With increased testing, it is inevitable that the total case numbers are going to increase. In fact, that number is probably the one I pay the least attention to in the news media. Other markers, like the percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations, are much more meaningful statistics to track. Looking at these numbers reveals that we are indeed in a time of increased transmission. It is rational and prudent to do all we can to slow this wave throughout the upcoming winter months. We pledge to continue our efforts to keep our office as safe as possible for all of you.
Chiropractic care and other in-office services
Of course, many of the services we offer, including chiropractic adjustments, near-infrared light therapy, and other healing modalities, have to be administered in the office. Because these treatments have been scientifically proven to improve immune function and to enhance general health, we highly encourage all patients to increase their utilization of these health-promoting treatments to the extent that it is financially prudent. Here are a few studies showing the immune-boosting effects of chiropractic care and near-infrared light therapy via a wide variety of mechanisms. (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here)
We are happy to report that our practice has remained open and fairly busy throughout the summer and fall. To our knowledge, only 1 of our patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and she was in the middle of comprehensive chiropractic and functional medicine treatments which helped her sail through with only very minor symptoms.
We have always been very conscious to not schedule large numbers of patients to be in the office at any one time (mainly because we have an aversion to a stressful workplace). We plan to continue this practice, and we will continuously evaluate the need to add additional “buffer” time between appointments. It may be typical for you to see one or two others in the office with you but generally not more than that.
We will, of course, continue to maintain our current practices to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces and equipment used in delivering your treatments.
It might be good to mention here that despite the theoretical potential for viral particles to remain on surfaces for extended periods of time, both the CDC and WHO admits that there hasn’t been even one case of COVID-19 that has been caused by merely touching a surface. Aerosols and droplet transmission remain the main routes of becoming exposed to enough viral load to cause infection.
If you have symptoms of illness
In times past, we have encouraged patients with minor viral illnesses to come in for treatment to speed recovery. We have tried to schedule those visits at the end of the day so as to not expose other patients. At this time, out of an abundance of caution, we would request that if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, please contact our office to speak with Dr. Duggar about your situation. DO NOT come into the office. If at any time you feel any of the well-publicized symptoms of COVID-19 or you have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, please follow the directions that are widely available from the county health department.
Of course, we will continue to follow all legal requirements set by our public health officials in an effort to #staysafetostayopen.
Functional Medicine/Health Coaching Consults
Since functional medicine consultations and health coaching sessions do not need to be held in-person, we will immediately transition all of these types of visits either to our online platform (www.Zoom.com) or via telephone. A meeting link will be emailed to you before your appointment. You will need to have access to a computer with the internet to connect with us via zoom.
Nutritional Supplement orders
Now is an important time to stock up on all of the nutritional supplements that have been recommended to you. Due to heightened awareness of immune health, many people who haven’t been particularly worried about staying healthy are starting to purchase immune-boosting nutrients and herbs. Many of our vendors are already reporting that they are unable to meet this demand and some products are back-ordered. We will continue to maintain a small inventory in-office but we strongly suggest that all of our patients create an online account with our virtual dispensary at www.fullscript.com. If you are running low on supplements and don’t have a regularly scheduled appointment, we encourage you to try to order your supplements through the Fullscript portal instead of personally coming to the office. If the product that you need isn’t available on Fullscript, please let us know and we will ship it to you from the office.
What other actions can we take?
We believe that this is a critical time to take intentional action to improve our health. Our latest blog post entitled “7 Simple Immune Boosting Solutions” will reiterate many time-tested and proven measures, many of them completely free, which will improve your ability to withstand this current viral threat as well as any others that happen to come along.
It is important to remember that while there are no known pharmaceutical or alternative treatments that have been proven to eradicate this particular virus, our own immune system has the capacity to not only survive but also create lifelong immunity to it. Let’s focus our primary attention on things that enhance our resilience to infection.
One benefit of flattening the curve of infections was the hope that it would give researchers more time to study different options for treatment. It appears that this is happening. Johns Hopkins reports now that the US has a case fatality rate of 2.4% and the CDC estimates that the infection fatality rate may be at .65%.
Let’s all rise to the occasion
Every day this situation is changing and it is natural for us all to feel anxious during times of uncertainty and change. As the situation continues to unfold, all of us will most likely have a personal experience with this illness in our families or with our co-workers. Our global economy will continue to be affected, and more importantly, our local economy will be affected. Despite all of the upheaval, we’re confident that the solutions to our challenges will always be based on timeless principles. This experience will be a great test for our individual and collective goodness. The etymology of our last name, “Duggar” comes from northeastern Scotland and is a contraction of the term “do-gooder.” We know that all of you, our dear patients and friends, are some of the most amazing people in our community and we invite you all to continue to be “do-gooders” with us.
We hope that you know that we feel tremendously blessed to be a part of your lives. We spend nearly all of our waking hours working to help you increase your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and we love doing it!
We trust that we’ll all come through this a bit stronger and wiser and more prepared for the future.
We feel privileged to play a small part all of your lives and we’re proud of how our small community is rising to these challenges and doing our part to thrive through adversity.
Dr. Jerry and Tammie Duggar