Earlier this year we learned about COVID-19, a virus that likely originated in Wuhan, China.
Despite President Trump’s claim that the virus’ fault lies with China we are faced with a worldwide virus that we all need to deal with.
In the middle of March much of our nation “closed down.” We decided that some businesses needed to remain open and were deemed essential, among them grocery stores. Almost all of us listened to the voices of intelligence and reason.
Many people began working from home and they are the fortunate ones. Many more got laid off and needed to apply for unemployment insurance. Finally others, classified as “essential” kept working.
Everyone sacrificed but we hoped (at the time) that if we all pulled together we could “flatten the curve,” ie, prevent an increase of cases and get through the first wave by early summer.
Wave? In 1918 we suffered an enormous Influenza Pandemic (unfortunately misnamed Spanish Flu). The first wave started in March of 1918 with the first reported case in Kansas. It was thought to be a slightly more contagious version of the seasonal flu and by August there was reason to believe it was over.
But in November of 1918 troops began returning home from Europe after World War I and many carried the virus. By the time it was done it had infected 500 million people and killed between 20 million and 50 million.
When we started to learn about COVID-19 scientists from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases advised that the virus decides when the country will open back up.
I guess President Trump didn’t get the memo. On March 24th he suggested that we return to normal on Easter.
Fortunately we didn’t, but by the end of April many states (primarily in the South) began to reopen against the advice of nearly anyone smart enough to be part of the discussion. Georgia was the first, reopening on April 30th. Other states followed.
And the curve, which was flattening in early May, took off again. As I write this the United States has reported over 4 million cases.
For those of us who have followed directions about wearing masks and keeping 6 feet of distance, it’s been frustrating beyond words. I had hoped by this time I wouldn’t have to wear a mask but with this resurgence it appears we’ll have to keep doing this until scientists develop a vaccine.
Now we’re talking about Covid Quarantine Fatigue. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s real. Covid fatigue describes the weariness of having to work from home, wear a mask, and socially distance.
But I will also give another symptom: anger. I’m angry at all those who refuse to follow guidelines and wear masks when shopping or getting coffee.
Some claim that this is a matter of personal freedom (but are willing to avoid a ticket by wearing a seatbelt while in a car). Others claim that they have health conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. I have asthma and I can tell you that wearing a mask is a burden. After a few minutes I start sweating from my head and back (which I don’t understand). But I wear it anyway. I wear it because I’m willing to sweat to keep the people around me safe. I have no no patience for those who claim an exception.
And I know that I’m going to have to wear a mask for the foreseeable future because those who claim the mantle of personal freedom refuse to acknowledge personal responsibility.
In 1940 ordinary citizens of England suffered nightly bombing raids from Germany in the Battle of Britain. Germany believed that nightly bombing raids on major English cities would break the spirit of England and they would negotiate a peace treaty. It didn’t work. Instead all households were ordered to turn off all their lights at night ensuring that the German bombers couldn’t find their targets.
I write this because it worked. British homes “blacked out” their homes and won the battle. But imagine if ordinary British households believed in individual rights over corporate responsibility. Imagine that some percentage of British citizens claimed that they had the right to keep their lights on and were willing to take the chance of being bombed.
That’s fine but turning on your lights not only endangers you but your neighbors. Your irresponsible decision not only puts you in harm’s way but also those unfortunate enough to live next to you. It doesn’t matter that they’ve sacrificed for the common good because you refuse.
So for all of those who refuse to wear a mask, I hope you’re happy.