Source: J. Deane Waldman, M.D.

In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a seminal work, On Death and Dying, where she described five stages of grief that individuals experience after a profound emotional loss, such as the death of a loved one.

Today, Americans are grieving — their trust in great institutions has died.  Americans have lost faith in Washington; in federal medical bureaucracies like the CDC, FDA, and NIH; in legal institutions including the FBI and DOJ, and in school systems from K–12 through universities.

Science itself has been called into question.  Politicians and bureaucrat-M.D.s claim they “follow the science,” but real scientists, clinical physicians, and policy experts say that what Washington follows isn’t science at all.

As COVID spreads and trust fades, Americans are experiencing grief in five stages: confusion, panic, control, disillusionment, and renewal.

Early in the COVID pandemic, Americans were confused.  Based on advice from the COVID Task Force, state governors implemented mandates for masks and other PPE, social distancing, the prohibition against gatherings, testing everyone, and strict lockdowns.  The FDA prohibited therapeutic drugs, though frontline doctors were reporting success.  Fauci told people to wear two masks, not merely one, even though studies in Florida, Massachusetts, and school systems in New York and Sweden found no “correlation … [between clinical outcomes and] mask mandates.”

Contrary to Task Force recommendations, President Trump wanted to stop the lockdowns, focus testing on high-risk persons, and use therapeutic drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and monoclonal antibodies.

Americans were scratching their heads.  COVID-19 was labeled a “novel” virus, yet anyone who has had a cold has been infected with a coronavirus.  Every year there is an epidemic with a respiratory virus quite similar to COVID: the flu.

The number of COVID cases is touted as though these are sick people.  In fact, “cases” are merely those who test positive for the antigen — almost all of whom are healthy.  COVID deaths are reported in large numbers, even though more than 75 percent of the “deaths” are due to co-morbid, life-threatening pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and chronic lung disease, not because of the virus.  People had good reasons to be confused.

With a constant drumbeat of imminent death, Americans entered the second stage: panic.  Generating public fear was intentional.  In fact, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told policy expert Dr. Scott Atlas, “Yes, they need to be more afraid.”

A fearful public naturally turned to the federal government for protection.  Doctors like Fauci and Deborah Birx are bureaucrat M.D.s who do not practice medicine and have no expertise in public policy.  Yet in the name of public health, they recommended policies that took away constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and did irreparable harm to the nation.

Despite the First Amendment, freedom of speech and religion were curtailed.  The right to assemble was abrogated.  When ordered to accept injections of an experimental gene therapy (mRNA vaccines), Americans were no longer “secure” in their persons (Fourth Amendment).  Washington had created a “pandemic of fear” and used it to justify nullifying the Bill of Rights.

As panic persisted and intensified, America entered the third stage: control.  To protect the narrative used to justify their power-grab, Washington had to control the flow of information.  The CDC released misleading data; later, it changed its tracking methods and definitions.  The FDA “canceled” promising drugs to treat sick COVID patients.

Washington also controlled the available information using proxy censors such as news (really propaganda) outlets, social media, and even search engines like Google to label contrary data “misinformation” and to suppress any reports that question or dispute Washington’s policies.  When Scott Atlas tried to dispute the fake science touted by Birx and Fauci, the press viciously attacked him to “cancel” his credibility.

Washington tightly controlled any information given to the public.

Following valid scientific data, the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) recommended limited testing and focused protection, in contrast to the official approach of testing everyone and locking down the country.  In response, then–NIH director Francis Collins ordered Fauci to create a “devastating published takedown” of the GBD. 

Dispute will not be tolerated — control must be maintained.

Jessica Rose, Ph.D. in computational mathematics, studied the database of adverse effects following mRNA vaccination and found massive under-reporting and under-counting.  Her research paper was submitted to an academic journal but was rejected by the publisher, not by peer reviewers.  Censorship is poison for real science.

People who decided not to accept the mandated “jab” or chose not to wear a mask were reviled for lack of social responsibility, canceled, and fired.  Control by coercion: “no jab, no job.”

Though Washington remains in the control stage, Americans have moved to disillusionment.  People have experienced the disconnect between what Washington says or promises and what actually happens to them.  Masking did not stop the spread; neither did social distancing.  People died despite vaccination.  Many gathered at football games, in churches and temples, without incident.  The virus spread in states with strict mandates as well as those without.  The data increasingly looked untrustworthy, such as counting a motorcycle crash victim as a COVID death.

Disillusionment deepened when Washington failed to prepare the public for the harms inflicted by mandates.  Millions lost their jobs and their savings when more than 200,000 small businesses closed.  Crime, drug usage, and teen suicides hit new highs.  Children locked out of school lost the opportunity to learn.  This was especially hard on poor families, whose children could not learn online, lacking home computers and internet access.

Americans began to ask, “We gave up our freedoms, our children’s future, and our savings, for what?!”  The illusion of Washington protecting the people from COVID was exposed as totally false.  Their so-called “science” was made up.  Trust was gone, and Americans were disillusioned.

But there is hope in the final stage: renewal.

As trust fades in elected officials such as President Biden, in appointed officials like Merrick Garland, and titled bureaucrat-M.D.s (viz., Fauci), Americans are renewing their faith…in themselves: their own judgment, their independence, and their power!

Instead of blindly following orders from politicians and self-styled experts, Americans are demanding to make their own decisions, especially medical choices.

The Declaration of Independence did more than sever political connection with Great Britain.  It declared the fundamental independence of every new American from control by government, any government.  Present-day Americans are renewing their personal liberty and rejecting what amounts to federal tyranny by mandate.

When Navy SEALs and health care workers resist vaccine mandates; when parents refuse school board orders to “facemask” their children; when Governors Ron DeSantis (Florida) and Kristi Noem (South Dakota) reject Washington’s one-size-fits-all, anti-scientific medical commands, these are Americans standing up to Washington.

In response to Washington’s COVID tyranny, Americans are renewing their fundamental, constitutionally assured relationship with government: We the People elect “public servants” to serve the public, not the other way around.

Deane Waldman, M.D., MBA is professor emeritus of pediatrics, pathology, and decision science; former director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation; and author of the multi-award-winning book Curing the Cancer in U.S. HealthcareStatesCare and Market-Based Medicine.