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Idaho Public Health


Good times in Idaho, where craziness combines with deregulation to create complete health ridiculousness:

The state was ablaze with the delta coronavirus variant in early August, when Connie visited her hometown in eastern Idaho. Connie — who asked we use only her first name due to concerns about blowback on her family — was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Much of her family was not, including her octogenarian parents.

When she got to Rockland, a tiny farming town with fewer than 300 residents, there was a community picnic at a park. And not a mask in sight. 

“For me, coming from California, I was just shocked,” Connie said in an interview this month. “And at this point, I started thinking to myself, ‘This is not good.’”

Nope! But let’s get into the details.

Connie’s parents were, like many Idahoans, devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Senior leaders of the church took the COVID-19 vaccine in January, and the church publicized it. The week of Connie’s visit to Rockland, the church’s prophet and his counselors issued a statement urging Latter-day Saints to get vaccinated and to wear masks.

“We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders,” they wrote in the Aug. 12 message.

That resonated with Connie’s father. He went with her to a pharmacy for his first dose. But months of emails, forwarded memes, text messages and disinformation on television and social media had convinced Connie’s mom that COVID-19 vaccines were deadly, she said.

“It was just on her phone, 24/7, coming at her from people she trusted, community members. … And then she would see validation on Fox News,” Connie said. “She was being terrorized about the vaccine. Just terrorized.”

Fox is indeed a terrorist media network and old whites are their target.

But it gets better:

“I think our state in particular, because we have kind of held ourselves out as a low regulation state, I think nationally we are a target,” Keller said in a July interview. “So, when a group of health care professionals wants to expand their scope nationally, Idaho is among the states they target, because we have this reputation.”

For example, Keller said, in the last legislative session before COVID-19 reached Idaho, optometrists pushed for a bill giving them authority to perform laser surgeries — procedures done by ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors.

“There also in recent years has been a chilling effect on regulating acts of health care providers,” Keller said.

A U.S. Supreme Court case involving a dentistry board in North Carolina ended in a 2015 decision that, for some professional licensing boards, it is a potential antitrust violation to limit what other professions do.

The case “sent ripples throughout the country,” Keller said. “That has really tamped down any licensure boards that were going to be proactive about defending their scope. That really took that (movement) back several steps.”

Medical and osteopathic doctors “have seen a dissolution and redistribution of their scope of practice over the past 15 or more years, as well as the dilution of their clinical authority,” a 2018 Idaho Medical Association resolution said.

Idaho gives patients few avenues to hold doctors accountable for harm. But for other professions, there are “nascent to limited systems for the vetting of adverse outcomes or complications for … incidents with patients, clients or customers,” the resolution said.

It’s quack central in Idaho.

For example, chiropractors in Idaho have a wide scope of practice. They can prescribe on a limited basis, hook up patients to IV drips, and act as primary care providers. Many Idaho chiropractors advertise treatments for autism, chronic fatigue or even clogged arteries.

They also treat fictional disorders, such as “rope worms.” Co-founded by a local chiropractor, Meridian company Microbe Formulas sells a package for $907 that includes a “gut and immune support” line of products. In product reviews, customers share photographs of “rope worms” they believe to be parasites.

“I have large and small critters exiting daily,” one customer wrote.

Released from the body in long, stringy bowel movements, the worms are actually fecal matter and mucus. A substance in some gut-cleanse products thickens into a snake-like mold of the intestines.

“Rope worm, or Funis vermis, is not yet a scientifically ‘confirmed’ parasite,” the Microbe Formulas website says. (Funis vermis isn’t an official scientific name for the excretions; it’s “rope worm” in Latin.)

Death by Chiropractor. Seems like an appropriate way for Americans to die.

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