SAN DIEGO: In an attempt to save our lives amongst COVID-19, we’ve lost our minds. We are also close to losing our freedom, but let’s start with the losing of our minds. It happened incrementally, the slow boiling of a frog who at first thinks he’s having a comfortable bath. Each increasing degree of heat is gradual; he doesn’t realize he’s being boiled to death until it’s too late.
All analogies break down and you probably didn’t like that one much even though it’s a familiar one.
Fair enough…Enough with the analogies. Let us instead simply look at what happened.
First, they told us that unless we had serious preconditions, only people above 70 years of age were in danger of losing their lives.
“For others, it may not be much worse than a mild case of the flu or a bad cold. Many will not even feel symptoms at all.”
OK…. OK… Good reasons to protect our senior citizens but for everyone else? Nothing to worry about.
“If you fall within that precarious age or risk factor, just be careful. So long as you keep yourselves isolated, there will be no problem, just for a while, just until we can get this thing under control.”
Then retirement homes made the decision on behalf of its residents. They were ordered not to leave the premises. In time, the decision was out of the hands of the retirement communities. It became a matter of executive order in most places.
After that, our education increased. Now, whoa and behold, the risk age is actually 65 and older!
“Oh, and… well… It can sometimes be really nasty and life-threatening in your 50’s or 40’s but certainly not in your 30’s…unless…ah…well… unless it IS! Because, you see, what we’re trying to say is, a few serious cases have popped up with that age bracket too. But children can’t get this…Probably not… Well, maybe they can, but they shouldn’t feel symptoms. Since they can still be carriers, keep them away from Grandma and Grandpa!
Meanwhile, the general instructions for being out in public were ever-so-helpful, simple too, a piece of cake.
“Just wash your hands!” they say with a smile. “Wash your hands after shaking hands with another. Oh, and don’t put your hands near your mouth or eyes after shaking hands, because it is through the mouth or eyes that you can contract the disease.”
Got it! Just wash my hands and I won’t catch this. Easy-peasy! Who couldn’t follow those simple, reasonable suggestions?
But wait! There’s more!
Now, it changes to
“Actually, don’t shake hands at all; instead, that fun but polite elbow bump will be sufficient. Oh, and don’t worry about surfaces, just people. This thing doesn’t live on surfaces, at least, not long enough that we should be concerned.”
I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. Yes, Sweet Virginia, we heard that COVOID19 actually can live on surfaces longer than first thought. Could live on hours upon hours.
“But there’s no need to wear a mask, in fact, we strongly urge you NOT to wear a mask unless you are infected because people who aren’t infected don’t need them. Doctors need them to treat infected people but nobody else needs them. Besides, the average yokel doesn’t know how to wear masks; they touch them too much, adjust them too much. They take them off and scratch themselves which means the eyes and mouth are in danger again.”
“Hey, that elbow bump thing isn’t gonna work either. Instead, we must ask you to socially distance yourselves by staying six-feet apart in the stores or in the workplaces.”
Throughout these ever-morphing tips, the federal government task force is talking in terms of guidelines.
States and cities, taking their cues from Washington, also issue guidelines.
But it didn’t take long for that to change as well.
In MANY places, what started as a guideline one day, became an executive order the next day or so.
Gary Guideline and his cousin Danny Decree continued to watch our populace like hawks, wondering what else they could do to disrupt the normal in order to save more lives.
In no time at all, they came up with this fun, little gem:
“No gatherings of more than 35 and, of course, within those gatherings, social distance yourselves. That’s six-feet apart, Bucko! Five and a half doesn’t count!
“Well, actually, we’d just-as-soon you not have gatherings at all. Instead, everyone should stay at home no matter what age you are because you never know if you’re a carrier. So, even if you feel good…No…Even if you feel GREAT, stay home!!!”
Businesses that could have their people work at home did so.
Businesses that could not work from home were shut down or severely curtailed.
Stores and other essential services were allowed to stay open so long as people practiced social distancing six-feet apart.
Churches were told to stop meeting if they had over 35 people.
Then, they were told to stop meeting, period.
Many said it didn’t matter. “After all, we can meet on Zoom.”
Some people tried drive-in church services.
They were ticketed and threatened with arrest.
By now, it became clear that you could be a lot farther than six-feet apart and still be in trouble.
People were arrested on beaches even if they were the only ones on the beach. Or on the water.
People were commanded to vacate parks, or refrain from riding horses on a horse trail,
They were pulled over by police and ticketed if caught taking a drive unless the car was headed toward an essential service.
In the meantime, we were assured that (probably, hopefully, maybe) this would only last 15 days
You bet! The 15-day plan! We can do this, right?
Then it became 30 days until the end of April.
The important thing was to flatten the curve.
Again, these are guidelines from Washington but the local states and municipalities keep adding teeth, extremely SHARP teeth.
In Michigan, people were told that they could buy food in one part of the store, but furniture and gardening sections would be closed.
They were also told that if they owned two homes in the state they could not drive from one to the other.
Heck! They weren’t even allowed to visit other family members!
Sounds like we hit rock bottom at this point.
It wasn’t the bottom, not even close!
Meanwhile, by now, the very same professionals who assured us repeatedly and emphatically that we did not need masks, decided to revisit the subject:
“Say, you know what? We strongly suggest that you wear a mask after all! We got new information, but also, we were always concerned because we were afraid we would run out of masks for our doctors. Those are both valid reasons, so just go with the one that makes the most sense….Yeah… wear the mask, but also be sure to socially distance.”
The whole mask deal ends up confusing people. In some places it’s requested; in other places it’s required; and in still other places, people get arrested for not wearing masks.
Those previously arrested for rape and other crimes are released from jail for the exact same reason, social distancing.
In the midst of this seemingly endless fog, one or two questions occasionally surface, much like the child who notices the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.
“But if we’re socially distancing six-feet apart, why do we need a mask? And, conversely, if we’re wearing a mask, why do, we need to social distance?”
Or….Let’s say we accept both the mask and the six- feet social distancing thing….
“If essential services can stay open with masks and social distancing, why can’t all other businesses just promise to do the same and keep themselves six feet apart?”
“If fast-food restaurants, liquor stores, and marijuana stores can have a drive-through, why can’t churches?”
“Aren’t people six-feet apart if they are alone in their cars?”
“Aren’t people more than six-feet apart taking a drive-by themselves, or being the only surfer on the beach?”
“And if they ARE alone in their cars, why do they have to wear masks?”
“And if they are going for a walk around the block, why do they have to wear masks?”
Meanwhile, another part of the story had changed without us even remembering exactly where on the timeline…
Now, we’re hearing this virus could be in the air.
And when we get home from the store, we should not only wash our hands and throw away our grocery bags, we should strip down in the garage, come inside, and take a shower.
That still might not be enough according to the World Health Organization:
“In most parts of the world, due to lockdown, most of the transmission that’s actually happening in many countries now is happening in the household at the family level. In some senses, the transmission has been taken off the streets and pushed back into family units. Now, we need to go and look in families to find those people who may be sick and remove them and isolate them in a safe and dignified manner.”
Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies
I see. Now they will invade your home. But only in a dignified manner. Whew!…Thank goodness for THAT AT LEAST!
Granted, WHO regulations are not binding in our country, but how many American politicians are in bed with WHO and condemn criticism of WHO as though the organization was a sacrament!
Will there be more?
Of course, there will be more.
Other fun ideas are in the works, ideas like:
Designing drones to roam the sky and read our body temperature to see if we might be needing special isolation and/or to see if we are violating whatever shelter-in-place mandate might be in effect in that particular city or state…or
Placing a tracker on our cell phones to see if we’re traveling to any place other than an “essential service.”
Again, only to protect our health.
And, while rules metastasize faster than the virus itself, the goal post continues to move.
Now, as we approach May, some states are increasing their lockdown measures, doubling down instead of lightening up.
Others are opening up but slowly, ever so slowly, making it fairly clear that phrases such as “social distancing” are going to be with us for a very long time.
So will government-regulated restaurants, theaters, planes, and churches.
Oh wait! Sorry! Almost forgot:
Come fall, there will likely be a fresh outbreak of COVID19, What then?
Return to shelter-in-place?
Small and large businesses closing down again?
Church services re-ZOOMING again?
And what about next winter’s flu season? Same song and dance?
Some politicians are saying we cannot open up until we develop a vaccine.
“Gee, Wally…I thought it was just about flattening the curve…”
“No..No…Whoever said anything about a flattened curve? A vaccine, silly!”
Not to be outdone, other politicians have even said we must wait for the disease to become completely eradicated!
We may never develop a vaccine!
The disease may never be eradicated!
Even those doctors who see it on the horizon go out of their way to assure us that it will not happen any time soon.
I know… I know…We’ve heard it day after day; all guidelines are based on the information we had at the time. When the information changes, we have to change the guidelines.
So be it…
I don’t blame President Trump or his medical task force for making mistakes.
Or any of the sincere doctors. I both understand and accept that information gets challenged in the face of new data.
But, my friends, this information does not simply change…
It goes back and forth..
Every time a potential healing agent such as Hydroxychloroquine is given a favorable report, somebody else says it didn’t test so well.
The same with other suggested remedies…
“This drug works.”
“No, it doesn’t work.”
“Well, it DID work here.”
“Once you get over coronavirus, you develop immunity and we’ll use that plasma to make a remedy full of natural antibodies…. Well maybe not. Maybe those who recovered CAN get it again.”
We hear of states who flattened the curve by obeying all the shutdown rules.
Other places flattened the curve without the shutdowns.
Still others, despite the flattened curve, are in no great hurry to let people go back to work.
We heard originally that this disease was going to be gargantuan in the amount of deaths it produced.
Now we hear that the disease probably came to America sooner than we think, probably back in December. That far more people have had it than we realized. Which means that these people apparently didn’t know they had it. Which means they only got mild cases and are probably over it by now.
As the amount of cases goes up, the amount of death percentages goes down and the latest estimates are less than one percent. Actually more like .0002%
Other studies suggest the disease will spread no matter what we do, but will also run its course quickly if we don’t stretch it out with all the sheltering.
OK. Nobody is sure. Medical science is not perfect. Learning about a virus can be a long tumultuous process.
Again…We get it…
But here’s the bottom line…
IF WE CAN ADMIT THAT WE ARE UNSURE ABOUT THE VIRUS, WE MUST ALSO ADMIT THAT IT WAS A MISTAKE TO CLOSE DOWN OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY WHILE WE WERE TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT.
It’s not like we haven’t had viruses without vaccines before…
While we waited with bated breath for that allusive, “perfect” solution to COVID-19, the economy was decimated.
The COVID-19 virus has led to 26,500,000 jobless claims.
“One in four small businesses were two months or less away from closing permanently as of April 3” according to The Hill. How much has the number changed since then?
“But Bob, what else can we do? Should we really be talking about rights and jobs when lives are at stake? What is the balance? What is the solution?
The balance, quite simply, is realizing that this is not a choice between the economy on one side and human lives on the other side.
Neither is It is a choice between our Constitution on one side and human lives on the other side.
Human lives will be lost on both sides!
I say this quite soberly, quite measuredly. I myself am over 65 with asthma, one of the preconditions. Never think for a moment that I do not take COVID 19 seriously. I am very aware that the figure of “under one percent deaths” is no consolation to a grieving family.
Yes, of course, even one life is one too many.
But lives are being lost on the other side too.
It sounds so easy to simply obey our physicians and civil servants who (supposedly) have nothing but our goodwill in mind.
“All we have to do is stay at home and watch Netflix. That’s not so hard, is it?”
People who lost their jobs can’t afford Netflix. They can’t afford food or rent either.
As for people who can work at home on their computers over the Internet… that sounds great until we remember that schools are closed down as well. So are daycare centers. So is the food chain for millions of children that rely on school for breakfast and lunch.
How are parents supposed to watch their kids, homeschool their kids, and work at the same time?
What about abusive parents and spouses?
That’s not exactly a blissful shelter-in-place arrangement!
Depression and suicide are on the rise.
Not to mention the question of whether or not there will be any economy to return to at all when we are finally released into the great outdoors!
We’ve seen what happens in countries whose economies have crashed:
Putting aside the obvious, such as higher poverty, the rise of crime, vandalism, and shortage of police protection, there is also the stress factor of people suddenly out of work, wondering how they will feed their own families. This observation is not in antithesis to a medical concern.
The medical community has been telling us for years how often stress contributes to serious illness.
Speaking of the medical community…Another obvious observation:
The economy of the medical community itself is affected every bit as much when the surrounding economy crashes.
The medical community does not exist in isolation. When the medical business is at risk, everyone’s health is at risk.
Doctors themselves are out of work right now due to COVID-19. Many of them got put on furlough.
While Coronavirus has sucked all the oxygen out of the country, Americans with other health challenges have been left out in the cold.
To make room for the much anticipated (but seldom realized) COVID-19 patients, hospitals were emptied and cleared.
Some places ordered the discontinuation of “nonessential” procedures, including hip replacements, cancer screening, biopsies for tumors, treatment for those with heart disease or strokes and blood pressure monitoring. 80 percent of brain surgery cases have been temporarily suspended.
At the end of the day, we don’t know how many will die of coronavirus. The stats suggest less than one percent. Could the stats prove to be wrong in time?
Yes, again, COVID-19 is an unknown virus. But here’s what is NOT unknown:
We KNOW what the obliteration of the economy leads to.
We KNOW politicians, once given a taste of unchecked power, do not give it back easily. They enthusiastically subscribe to the adage, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Many of them have openly, shamelessly admitted this. They did so in front of the cameras. This is not a conspiracy theory. This is news.
“How many human lives are you willing to sacrifice to COVOD-19 for the sake of the economy?”
That’s how the question always goes.
I would put the same question back in the other direction.
How many lives are YOU willing to sacrifice if we don’t do away with these draconian measures, allow people to leave their homes and go back to work? And along with the lives, how many dreams and livelihoods are you willing to see go up in smoke? How much-rationed health care would you like to see for the rest of our lives? Or how much more of our Constitution would you like to see violated? How many freedoms are you willing to give up, simply because we have a virus without a vaccine?
So much for the balance. Here’s the solution. We have one of two choices:
We can throw up our hands and continue to go along with the shutdowns/social distancing, shelter in place orders in fear of COVID-19. Knowing full well our economy and former way of life will be completely destroyed. Indeed, our Constitution will no longer be worth the paper it is printed on, less valuable than the toilet paper people stand in long lines for.
The doctors and government can treat us like adults.
If you are at risk, be careful, maybe stay at home. You can go where you want, but at your own risk. Meanwhile, washing hands and using good hygiene is always a good idea, but remember life is always going to include risk.
If you run a business or church or airline, you can arrange seating anyway you want. Just understand that some people will choose to go to a place that might be better spaced out than yours. Your choice! Their choice!
We cannot guarantee how many lives might be lost due to COVID19 if we open the country back up completely. But we do know this: A lot more lives will be lost if we don’t open up. Our quality of life and the Constitution will also be gone with the dust if we don’t allow people the right to travel, vacation, worship, assemble and shop in the manner they choose.
And if you disagree with that, take it up with our forefathers. Our Constitution does not have a coronavirus clause.”
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.