High Time for Common Sense and Embracing Intelligence—Pandemic edition

As we are still in the midst of a pandemic which is showing few signs of dissipating, we need to heed the advice of experts and not the ravings of a narcissistic sociopath. Yet, there are so many people who refuse to heed the calls for caution and preventative measures. This is upsetting and makes me wonder why this nation has gone from one where scientists and experts are heeded to one where anti-intellectualism is lauded.

It would be far too easy to blame all of this on the current administration, although that is certainly a reason for some of the resurgence of anti-intellectualism. There has to be more than that though. I recall growing up in a country where scientists and doctors were heeded when they called for certain things to occur in order for people or the environment to be healthier. This country saw the end of leaded gasoline, the end of vast pollution of our water and air, and movement toward cleaner energy. All of these were due to scientific research and solutions that arose from that research. We even went from disposable rockets being used to travel into outer space to the reusable Space Shuttle program.

Yet, now we are in what is now the 7th month of a pandemic and while science is saying we need to wear masks, social distance, and wash our hands, there are still people who do not. Instead, we have people demanding to live life as it was before the pandemic with a nonchalance that is terrifying at times. The current administration feels that the economy is more important than human life, except for the life of a fetus, that is. Heaven forbid abortions remain legal and safe and/or contraceptives be available to prevent unwanted pregnancies or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. I digress.

Now, we have the current administration demanding that public schools reopen even as the rate of spread of the Covid-19 is increasing in almost half of the country. While I agree that face-to-face education is important both for learning and the development of social skills, the cost in lives is not worth the risk. Many of our schools lack the space for social distancing that is effective as well as lacking the ventilation systems that are proven to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. Add to this a workforce of older teachers or even younger ones who live in extended family situations with parents who are immune compromised, plus the families of students themselves who may have individuals who are immune compromised or at risk, it is a recipe for disaster. We must heed the advice of the experts, not the whims of an administration that has no expertise in matters of health.

There’s also the argument about the economy and how the pandemic has harmed the economy. Yes, it is true that the economy is suffering. There are people out of work due to the pandemic. There are businesses that have needed to close, either for the duration of the pandemic or for good because of the pandemic shutdowns. Yet, why isn’t this also being seen as a call to change the way our economy operates so that it can become viable in the event of a pandemic? We have seen some changes already from an increase in grocery shopping and food delivery services. These are good even when there is not a pandemic, especially for people who are unable to leave their homes or be around groups of people for health reasons. We have seen companies re-tool their production lines to create needed personal protection and medical equipment. We have proven that some industries can still be viable allowing their employees to work from home.

Perhaps what is needed is an investment in other technologies to make it even more possible. Improving access to high speed, reliable, and secured internet would be one thing. Better programs for distance meetings are another. Seeing the pandemic as an opportunity to affect real change rather than something that stymies our productivity would be great, wouldn’t it?

While we are on the subject of the economy, I’d like to add that it is imperative that the cost of a vaccine for Covid-19 must be affordable, even free, once one is found to work. This is not a time for profit-making, but for healing. The same can be said for all medicines for every chronic condition. We, as a nation, must demand that people’s health come before profits. If people are not healthy, they can never have the financial resources to help drive the economy.

Will we see an end to the pandemic? I believe we will, but not without people taking more responsibility for themselves and those around them. That responsibility must become the new normal. The responsibility includes wearing a mask when in public, washing hands, and social distancing when possible.

Wearing a mask when in public should be seen as a badge of honor or even commonplace, rather than an infringement upon one’s rights. It’s a bunch of bullshit that wearing a mask is somehow an impediment to a person’s rights. Right to what? Spread a possibly fatal disease to someone else? That’s not a right, it’s second degree murder. Hell, some of the people complaining about wearing a mask are the same folks who cover themselves in camouflage and deer urine and sit for hours in a tree stand. To think they cannot manage to wear a mask for a 30-minute trip to the grocery is egregious.

Handwashing should be a habit anyhow even without a pandemic. It protects both the individual from getting an illness as well as spreading an illness. Nothing is quite as disgusting as watching someone leave the washroom without their washing their hands with soap. It doesn’t matter whether they needed to evacuate fluids or feces from their bodies, they still need to wash their hands.

Social distancing is not really that difficult. Yes, there are occasions where it is not feasible, such as grocery shopping or other routines that involve human interaction, but when someone is ill, then they should not be around others anyhow. This, of course, brings up the need for paid sick leave so that people can afford to take time off when they or a loved one is ill. There is no reason why someone should have to work when he or she is sick, especially if they are contagious. That simply spreads the illness as well as putting yet another burden on the healthcare system in the event more people become ill from the person who is sick. If the person who is ill can still do his or her job from home, then so be it. If not, the person should not be penalized for being sick. That’s simply being humane toward one another.

All in all, my message is that we need to listen to science over stupidity in this. Our country needs to stop with all the anti-intellectualism and believing that the rights of an individual are somehow more important than the rights of the whole of society when it comes to health.

Science is real. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Social distance when possible.

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