We can’t forget the coronavirus is still out there, which means people are going to continue to get sick, and those it could kill need to stay in lockdown.
No one’s happier than yours truly to see the country reopening, There’s no reason to keep a state or locality locked down when there’s no fear of coronavirus infections rising to a point where the health care system crashes.
So this is good. But it is important to remember that this will come with a price … and that one size does not fit all.
As unfortunate as this likely increase in coronavirus infections will be, not much can be done about it. This is an infectious disease with no cure, no vaccine. In fact, there are reports it is insanely contagious, so it’s hard to see — barring a national lockdown that would last the 12 to 18 months necessary to create and distribute a vaccine — how infections don’t increase.
Remember, this mitigation push is meant to slow the disease, not stop it. It’s all about ensuring the system doesn’t crash so we can save everyone who can be saved. We can only spread out the infection rate so our system holds. We cannot stop the inevitable.
Another unfortunate fact of life is that those who are medically compromised due to age, obesity, etc., have difficult choices to make: 1) You can bitch about the country reopening, 2) you can ignore the fact you’re medically compromised and resume normal life, or 3) you can wish the rest of the world the best of luck as you remain in a form of lockdown until there’s a vaccine.
For the record, I’m in bin number three. I’ll get to that in a bit, but first I want to address the first group: those who don’t want to see us reopen.
What do you care if the country reopens?
No one’s forcing you to return to normal life; no one’s forcing you to leave your house. No one’s forcing you to go to the movies or to the beach. Stay home. If you have to go to work, put on a mask, gloves, wash your hands, and for the love of all that’s holy, stop touching your face.
We have to reopen. As long as the health system won’t crash, there is no excuse to remain closed. As long as we can save everyone who can be saved, there’s no legitimate reason to remain in lockdown. As a society, we make ethical choices about freedom versus human life every day. We choose to drive when outlawing the automobile would save tens of thousands every year. We choose to legalize liquor and red meat and all kinds of things that are known to cause premature death.
I’m not comparing red meat to the coronavirus. I understand the difference between a plague and a hamburger. But the ethical dilemma is the same: do we take certain risks to enjoy a certain quality of life, or do we lockdown until there’s a vaccine with no quality of life and emerge in 12 to 18 months to a country that’s been wiped out beyond recognition? To me, we have no choice. We must reopen. And I say that as someone who will quarantine until there’s a vaccine.
If it was just me — I’m 54 and in great health — I would risk it. To be honest, though, that observation surprises me. Had you asked me two months ago if I’d be willing to self-quarantine for a year to avoid contracting a disease that might kill me, I would have said, Hell yes. I’m a homebody anyway. Sounds like heaven!
But there are two things I’ve learned about myself over the past month: 1) Frozen strawberries taste so much better than fresh strawberries, and 2) as little as I interact with people in my normal life, I miss it. I miss people. And I hate being afraid of them. I hate passing someone in the aisle with a look of fear instead of a “Good morning.” I hate not being able to chat with my neighbors. I miss having the neighborhood kids ring my doorbell just because. This sucks, but this is just the beginning for me and everyone else in my situation.
You see, my wife is right in the bullseye of the medically compromised, so we’re just going to have to try and ride it out until there’s a cure, or until there’s herd immunity, or until Jesus returns and tells everyone it’s time to get out of the pool.
You know what, though? In all the excitement of America starting to reopen, I almost forget that. I almost forgot the virus is still out there.
But I can’t forget that.
And neither can those of you who might not survive this, or who live with someone who might not survive this.
Sure, if you’re compromised and not a risk to someone else who’s compromised, you can make the choice to take the risk — and I get that. You certainly wouldn’t be the first to risk your life so you can live life as you choose. Godspeed.
But in all the excitement, don’t forget to consciously make that choice. Don’t forget the virus is still out there. And if you choose to quarantine, don’t forget quarantining will be more difficult as the country reopens. People are going to be less careful going forward, which means we have to be more careful — more perfect about washing our hands, changing in and out of our pandemic clothes in the garage, disinfecting what we bring into the house.
And no, this is not the “new normal.” It might last a while, but it’s still temporary. This is America for crying out loud… We’ll fix this.