John Balentine writes a weekly column, usually through a Trump/Republican Party/Fox News prism. However, despite having no scientific qualifications, Balentine questions why Gov. Mills “is talking about further shutdowns as (COVID-19) case numbers rise. This simply (a shutdown) can’t happen again” (“Don’t lock ME down,” Nov. 20).

I am an Oxford University-trained immunohaematologist and a fellow, Royal College of Pathologists. Earlier in my career, I was chief, Blood Resources and Transplantation Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institute of Health. Twenty-five years were also spent as a full professor at three U.S. universities. Here is my scientific counsel:

Until recently, Maine was somewhat spared from the ravages of the pandemic. This is no longer true. Balentine stated “Joe Biden’s prediction of a ‘dark winter’ … was (bleak).” Biden’s comment is true, IF immediate action is not taken in Maine. Our ability to mount an effective strategy was lost when Trump failed both to notify us of the existence of COVID-19 in January and to subsequently implement a plan to limit further infections. Balentine’s plan: “… we need to trust people to do the right thing and protect the vulnerable.” In Maine, the dramatic rise of “hot spots” is due to some individuals NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING! THE RIGHT THINGS: listen to public health experts, mandate mask wearing, social distance, use proper hygiene, avoid crowds, limit holiday travel, modify holiday gatherings, targeted shutdowns, etc. A vaccine will help, but is months away from its full distribution and subsequent utilization. Shutdowns are required, but the Republican-controlled Senate must pass legislation to assist citizens and business in need of financial assistance. Balentine, convince your party members to pass such important bills, rather than attempting to be a public health expert.

John M. Mishler
Harpswell