Bradford County herd immunity
During an interview with a WENY reporter, Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko said the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the county is taking its “natural course” and that we shouldn’t “live in fear,” but to not “put yourself in harm’s way.” He also said that he would not take part in any discussions to shut down the county and, “we just have to be vigilant and tough and get through it.”
McLinko has adopted the herd immunity plan of Donald Trump and his non-epidemiologist medical advisor Dr. Scott Atlas. The plan is to allow the virus to spread among younger and healthier people who have a higher chance of survival until enough people have developed immunity (the herd level) to stop the spread of further infection.
There are several problems: First, immunity after an infection hasn’t yet been proven. Second, it will be next to impossible to protect vulnerable people if tens of thousands in the county are infected. And third, even younger and healthier people die from the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, called Trump’s herd immunity plan “total nonsense.”
The population of Bradford County is approximately 63,000. There is no absolute percentage of infection for herd immunity but 70% seems to be a generally agreed upon figure, thus 44,100 need to be infected while not infecting the vulnerable population. The latest seven-day moving average for mortality-to-case rate in the U.S. is 1.27%. Thus 560 of the 44,100 would die. Cutting this in half to allow for a lower mortality-to-infection rate would still kill 280 people.
Who would be among the 280? Careless people? People whose job requires them to be in harm’s way? People who were vulnerable but were somehow infected anyway? As the experts concluded, the plan is total nonsense.
John L. Ferri
Stop the severance tax
Pennsylvania’s marketed natural gas production, primarily from the Marcellus Shale, reached almost 7 trillion cubic feet in 2019, making us the second-largest natural gas producer after Texas. That is great news for Pennsylvanians because the natural gas industry has yielded real benefits for the people of our commonwealth. Families have been sustained by the jobs created within the industry or supported by oil and gas workers. Local governments have been able to improve the quality of life for their taxpayers without raising taxes.
We’ve also lowered greenhouse gas emissions as more and more of our power is generated by cleaner burning, abundant natural gas. In fact, our natural gas-fired power plants surpassed nuclear power as the largest provider of in-state electricity for the first time last year.
The benefits of our locally-sourced energy are inarguable, but that hasn’t stopped certain individuals from attacking the industry. The attacks I’m most concerned with are not the ones that come from the “keep it in the ground” extremists. What concerns me the most are the attacks that come from within our own government and particularly from Gov. Wolf.
Wolf has been relentless in his desire to tax this industry into oblivion with a severance tax. I feel strongly that Gov. Wolf must never succeed in this. If he is successful in creating this new energy tax it will result in higher energy prices for consumers and less jobs for Pennsylvanians – something Pennsylvania couldn’t afford on its best day, let alone while we are navigating our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.