NOTE: Indian River Guardian/InsideVero has focused on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic because of the potential threat it poses to our community’s health. That threat is significantly greater when many in our community fail to protect themselves and those around them. Until we work together to fight this common enemy, our focus will continue.
When the coronavirus first crept into our everyday vocabulary last March all of us were united in our fear of this new ‘plague.’ We were told to stay home and we did. Few cars were on the road. Shopping centers were closed. No one walked the streets, even in neighborhoods. We had groceries delivered from Publix.
We saw the coronavirus killing thousands of people in New York and Europe, but not here in Florida and Indian River County, so we relaxed a bit. Health experts were telling us if we leave our homes, we should wear masks and maintain social distancing. Grocery stores maintained ‘senior hours’ for those most at risk to shop and tape markers every six feet to keep us socially apart.
But at the same time, our political leaders were telling us the virus will pass and we should return to normal. More businesses were opening, more people shopped without masks or did not respect distancing guidelines. But the number of cases kept increasing statewide and locally. Health experts continued to warn us that the only way to stay safe was to wear masks, keep our distance or stay at home. Memorial Day weekend came and it seemed to the casual observer that life had returned to normal, finally free from three months of tight restrictions.
Then coronavirus cases exploded. Warnings from health officials became more dire. Yet, our government leaders continued urging us to return to normal. That is where the civil war started. It was like the north versus the south, except it was health versus the economy and it involved the entire country – friends, neighbors, relatives – taking sides in a battle that should never have happened. The Civil War of 1861-1865 was inevitable. The way of life for southerners could not be sustained without slaves and slavery violated the most important values of our democracy.
But this civil war is not about our American values – it is about our respect for each other in the face of a common threat. Remember how 9-11 bonded us as a nation? For our greatest generation, World War II also bonded us as a nation. But this time half our fellow citizens heed the warning of scientists and health experts while the other half take the political lead, that this will pass and it is being blown out of proportion.
When the flu strikes we are urged to get flu shots every year with reminders on television, places of business and doctors, and we do it, especially those who have pre-existing conditions or are elderly. So what is so different about coronavirus that some equate as just another flu? Well, two things are different:
- coronavirus has killed twice as many people as the flu did last season.
- there is no ‘flu shot’ to prevent it from attacking us.
If this is “just another flu,” as has been suggested, then it is already twice as deadly as the last flu outbreak – with no end in sight.
With no flu shot to protect us, health experts and our doctors have told us to either stay home, or if in public, to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
So why are so many people opposed to doing anything that would reduce the spread of this pandemic disease?
The answer is that most people have not seen what suffering from this disease looks like. The 20th local victim who died from the disease just yesterday was 24 years old, so no one is immune from it. Between 1,112-1,154 have contracted the virus here in this county. Having 20 deaths out of more than 1,000 infections doesn’t sound so menacing, but it is also a meaningless comparison. We need to know how many of those 1,100 have recovered to know the likely mortality rate. Unfortunately, the state DOH does not provide that information.
Your comments are welcome as are your questions. All answers to those questions will be researched from credible sources you can verify, not pseudoscience or conspiracy based websites.