This post is an appeal to clear thinking. Logic. Rational behavior.
Back in the dark ages of COVID-19, March and April 2020, when China was the likely culprit for the spread of this puzzling disease, the initiative to quarantine and isolate travelers from Asia was strong and well-supported. These were “foreigners” even if they were actually Americans who were simply traveling for business or any other reason. We were firm about it and understood at least the underlying reasons for this caution.
Later, the government issued other bans to keep foreign travel from spreading the disease.
Over the summer, the pandemic winds have shifted. Americans all over the country have risen up to claim either (1) they won’t get it, (2) they’re not going to wear masks because _______ fill in the blank, (3) one god or another told them they’d be protected or (4) they’re just selfish and entitled idiots who’d rather be right than reasonable.
This leaves many of us with a feeling that’s more than vulnerable. But that isn’t the worst part.
Across the country, without national leadership, governors have gone their merry ways making life-determining decisions about how to manage the pandemic based pretty much of the four scenarios above.
The death toll continues to rise, we continue to have “hot spots” where supposedly illegal or at least “not recommended” gatherings have spread the disease wildly. Americans have thumbed their collective nose at the “recommendations” and COVID-19 continues to win.
Some states have wisely instituted bans on open interstate travel especially from places with high rates of the disease. But not all. And enforcement of the bans can be sketchy. When we banned travel from China and even Europe, it was acceptable. But a ban on interstate travel? During vacation season? When the weather’s so nice and we’ve been good for so long? I don’t think so.
My state is one that has no ban at all even though we are surrounded by “hot spot” states. How about yours? Do you also live in a “wait and see” state? We waited to see how bad things were going to get and still have not taken the kind of action we needed to take. The horse has been out of the barn for weeks.
No ban, no test, no quarantine, no isolation for 14 days. Shoot, just open the doors and come on in with your suitcases and vacation gear and, very possibly, your COVID-19. Glad to see ya! And your money.
It always comes back to money, doesn’t it? And believe me, I GET THAT! I, too, have a business that’s been essentially shut down since March. As has the rest of my life, just like yours and everyone else’s.
But I also get that while it was relatively easy and acceptable to close our borders to foreign travelers who could be spreading the virus, it is almost universally unacceptable to close our state borders to travelers from other states we know darned well could be spreading the virus because their states are among the hot spots!
Let’s be clear.
If the United States had really closed down early on, we’d be in way better shape now in terms of health, economy, education – all of it – than we are likely to be for many months to come.
For a reason that I don’t get, our governors, including my own who is generally pretty good at what she does, have chosen to — wait for it — chosen to penalize those of us who’ve obeyed whatever rules we had, who wore our masks and distanced socially and scrubbed up every time we came home from a necessary errand. We have not gathered in even small groups, we have not partied in crowds, we have put our lives and businesses on hold as we were asked to do in order to keep ourselves and our community safe. We did that.
So why are we, and everybody else who played it straight, penalized in favor of the yahoos who didn’t cooperate from the beginning and still don’t, but are granted leave to continue doing exactly that?
The reasons boggle. The government can’t enforce the “recommendations”? Store managers don’t want fights over masks? Kids want to go back to school (a first in my recollection anywhere!)? This is where chaos begins.
Of course, it’s inconvenient to take the necessary precautions. Of course, it’s inconvenient to stop people at our state borders and order them to isolate. Of course, it’s inconvenient to enforce that order. Of course, it’s inconvenient for cousin Billy to cancel his big August wingding because – well, dammit, because he always does it. Live music, barbecue, tubs of beer and 150 people in the crowd. “It a helluva party!”
Of course, it’s inconvenient for Aunt Susie to miss her niece’s baby shower three states away. Of course, it’s inconvenient for the folks who drove all the way from Florida or Georgia or Texas or California to spend 14 days in isolation when all they want is to fish our streams and frolic by our ocean.
But not quite as inconvenient as what the 152,000 deceased Americans experienced by spending days, weeks, months in hospitals all over the country. Or what the overworked nurses and doctors experienced by spending the same days, weeks, months in the same hospitals doing the heart-breaking work of saving – or not saving – the COVID-19 patients.
Victims who survived long enough spoke about their sad journey and urged over and again, “Follow the rules. Wear your masks. Stay home.”
It’s not enough to say we’ve been locked down too long. We’re tired of it and not doing it any more. This is not rational or logical behavior. This is the thinking of a child. “I wanna go out and play….!”
Of course, people want to get back to normal. Well, here’s the new normal.
You don’t walk back into a burning building until there’s an all clear. And you don’t walk back into a pandemic without following the rules until there’s an all clear.
We didn’t do it right at the beginning, but we can do what’s necessary now. It’s the only real possibility we have.
Otherwise, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”