Last March, we started making serious changes to our lives to ‘flatten the curve’ and ‘slow the spread’ of the novel coronavirus. We were told if we did not do something immediately and aggressively, that 2.2 million Americans would potentially die. Locally, that would mean about 3,500 county deaths. We were warned the hospitals would likely become overwhelmed. With that, we watched the world shut down as we learned more about this novel threat.
Fast forward nearly seven months. So far, due to COVID-19, Sedgwick County has logged 81 deaths or about 2% of that early warning. We agree that 81 deaths is far too many. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy how our actual metrics are much, much different from those early warnings.
Looking back now, I have to ask myself, what would we have done differently had we known we would still be grappling with this virus going into October? Suppose that we will be fighting COVID-19 throughout 2021, what would we do differently? Are we content with the health orders enough that our community will embrace them for another year?
Sadly, we seem to be more divided than ever when it comes to our opinion as it relates to COVID-19. One end of the opinion spectrum seems to want more government orders that control the actions of all people and businesses. The other end of the spectrum is a denial with a belief that this is all a hoax. Let me make an argument for the middle-ground or moderate viewpoint.
I contend once again that the novel coronavirus is a dangerous virus that we should all respect. If we are not near other people, or if we are outdoors, the risk of contracting the virus is very low. If we are near other people, wearing a mask is a reasonable option to reduce the risk of transmission. What bothers me (and many other people) is the mandate.
I do not think government mandates are the right strategy. Instead, I believe we need to educate people about the risks, advocate for people to mitigate the risks, and trust people to exercise personal responsibility and freedom. The people have a sovereign right to make health choices and COVID-19 should not be an exception.
The truth is a mask protects the wearer as much as it protects another person. If you want to reduce your risk, then you need to make a personal choice to embrace social distancing, improve your hand hygiene, and wear a mask when you are around other people. Do not look to big government to institute orders on everyone else to protect you. Your protection is your responsibility. If you do not want to do these things, the government mandates probably will not compel you. Regardless of whether you embrace mitigations or not, you must accept the consequences for your decisions.