More Than Masks And Memes

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By Eric Valentine

Retired medical doctor Scott McLean. Photo credit: Scott McLean

As the data shows daily that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, you may find yourself frustrated that beyond wearing a mask while social distancing and sharing a meme while social media-ing, there’s not much you can do. In my case, I even feel silly complaining about it: I never contracted it, no one in my immediate circle of love died from it, and the only real loss I suffered was the experience of taking the trips I had planned to Paris, New York and Germany.

Now imagine being a retired doctor like Valley resident Scott McLean who spent 40 years specializing in internal medicine, 30 of them here in the Wood River Valley—a one-time epicenter of the coronavirus inside the nation that is the all-time epicenter of coronavirus misinformation. You can multiply the frustration by 100.

McLean’s diagnosis: Too many people providing misinformation or misinterpreting accurate information. His prescription: Provide the information and interpret himself, on Facebook.

“I used to use Facebook somewhat, to keep track of old friends, before the pandemic,” said McLean, who described himself as “not a daily user.”

“I initially started posting to give accurate info to my old patients, friends and family in light of the amount of disinformation that was being put out. Today (Tuesday) will be post 105,” McLean said.

McLean’s posts are not shared memes or pithy one-liners reminding people to wear a mask. Post 104, for example, was a 1,000-word analysis on a recent study suggesting there are far more carriers of the virus walking around than we had previously imagined.

I learned about McLean’s page (a private group page on Facebook called “Dr. McLean’s COVID-19 updates”) while interviewing healthcare professionals in the Valley who are on the front lines here. They said the page has been extremely helpful in digesting the latest COVID-19 information quickly.

“I try to frame the post for non-science people to read. I try to decode medical articles and put them into English,” McLean said. “I also try to debunk disinformation as it becomes popular.”

So the question had to be asked: If he had to chose a “popular” idea to debunk, what would it be.

“The two messages I’d like people to get: wear a mask in public, no matter what; isolate yourself as much as possible if you are at risk,” was McLean’s reply.

“Have a good day. Back to work. Fauci et al. are testifying before the Senate in 30 minutes,” he added.