Myth 12: The coronavirus is political.
We have all seen the posts and heard the conspiracies. “The coronavirus is just a ploy by the government to further restrict our freedoms! Don’t believe the media! It’s not that bad! ‘They’ (whoever ‘they’ is) just want to infringe your rights and this virus is an excuse to do so and if you follow along you are not more than a lamb led to slaughter.”
To this point, I have refused to validate this line of thinking in my writing because I do not want to give credence to lunacy. But it seems to be more and more pervasive and, like gangrene in a limb, it must be dealt with before the whole body is laid to waste.
Viruses are not political. They are neither Republican nor Democrat, Labour nor Conservative (for any Brits in town), nor Tory nor Whig (for you Revolutionaries). The coronavirus’ little RNA strand is chock full of instructions for replicating, building new proteins, hiding from our immune systems and wreaking havoc on our bodies. But it neither loves nor hates Pelosi or Trump. It just is. It just does.
And we are. And we do. And what we do determines how many of us will survive this very real and very serious attack on our humanity. This is not a foreign or domestic power invading your homeland and demanding subservience. It is a highly specialized life form that cares little for your stand for freedom. I have seen talk of people gathering for marches to stand up against state and county and city ordinances asking us not to congregate for a relatively short period of time as a show of solidarity for those of our society who WILL NOT BE TOLD what to do. If this asinine march comes to fruition it will be the height of absurdity. You may think you are inflicting a blow to the establishment, asserting your right as an independent free thinking Texan to do whatever he or she will despite what “they” (again the nebulous “they”) want you to do. (Maybe I’m part of the “they?”) But in fact you are sentencing many in your number and many others who are innocent to a bout with serious illness and possible death. This line of thinking is selfish, dangerous and irresponsible.
You may be tempted to think that because our hospital is not at capacity today that our collective response to the threat has been overblown. You may think I am a zealot of the establishment who, in my zeal, have tipped over the edge and gone to fear mongering. You may think I am part of the conspiracy. I assure you that my actions are taken of my own volition and are borne out of a deep love of this community and a desire not to see you suffer as I have witnessed others do all over the world.
To those of you who consider the absence of widespread illness in our county evidence that this is no real threat, I implore you to pay attention to places outside our comfortable slice of the Cross Timbers. Watch how this epidemic spreads. Watch the natural course. Country after country, city after city, town after town all over the world have maximized their medical capabilities and people have died unnecessarily because of lack of medical resources. Yes, Italy is a long way away. But the catalyst for that catastrophe is here. Now. Circulating amongst your neighbors. Dallas is well on it’s way to a similar fate if they don’t buckle down.
I thank God daily when we don’t have a new confirmed case nor an admission to the hospital. I pray that our efforts to this point have played a role in the light number of cases we have. But I know this is just the beginning. This is exactly how every community has experienced the coronavirus to this point. It starts slow. The doubling rate slowly increases. ICU admissions and ventilator patients slowly stack up and then the deaths start to stack up. We have lost one of our neighbors to this disease already. I pray that number does not increase by one more life. I fear it will increase dramatically.
Don’t make the egregious, unforgivable, ludicrous mistake of comparing our elected officials’ current actions to the actions of the fascist dictators of the last century. Those actions were based solely on prejudice, blatant racism; evil motives in the worst sense. Our officials today are motivated by love for their community and a desire to preserve humanity and our way of life. A short term denial of your right to congregate is simply an affirmation of our collective value – not a personal abasement. We do not want to allow irresponsible behavior to endanger you or your neighbors. It’s why we have traffic laws and regulations over commerce prohibiting exploitation and protection of property, etc.
Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter representing the Pennsylvania General Assembly, “Those who give up essential liberty, to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This is a rally cry that was one of the hallmark tenets of our American Revolution. His argument was that “protection” from a tyrannical government was actually not protection at all. I wholeheartedly agree. But today’s challenge was not foisted upon us by a tyrannical government, foreign or domestic. We are challenged by an unseen, unfeeling, relentless pathogen that has one purpose and that purpose is to replicate and spread at the expense of our bodies. New threats require new tactics. Voluntarily exercising our freedom to stay away from others is our most effective tactic. But please read yesterday’s article.
If we are lax with our isolation in Erath County, we can expect to exhaust our very limited resources by the end of May. That cold reality is driving our elected officials to act on our behalf for our protection.
If our officials did not take whatever action they could to stem the tide of Covid cases and we do have catastrophic loss of life, will we not hold them responsible? So why would we resist their efforts to prevent it? This is not a mythical threat.
If I do not do everything in my power to protect my patients and neighbors, I know I will feel a heavy burden of responsibility for whatever catastrophe befalls us. If you are mistrustful of our leaders, please consider these arguments and think past your natural skepticism. Join with me in doing what we can to save lives.
Biology is not political.