Check your tires, adjust your mirrors, buckle up, then head out. You won’t be guaranteed of arriving safely, but your chances will go way up.
It’s the same with pandemics. Vaccines never were billed as 100% effective. Seat belts aren’t, either. But we still require them.
There’s no magic to maintaining six feet of separation or limiting encounters to less than 10 minutes. Those are just points at which odds of spreading or not spreading the virus begin to tip. If ventilation is poor, if you’re singing or speaking loudly, or if you want better than a coin flip’s chance of not catching COVID, six feet aren’t enough and 10 minutes are too long.
Whether driving a car or living in a pandemic, precautions aren’t about guaranteeing safety as much as they are about reducing odds of bad things happening.
Can you get by not checking your tires and not buckling up? Of course. Many of us do more often than we’d like to admit. You also can get by not getting vaccinated, not wearing a mask, and not maintaining your distance. But eventually the odds will catch up with you.
When driving, not following precautions means you accept the risk of getting hurt. In a pandemic, not following precautions puts more than just you at risk. You also can spread the disease to someone else.
Perhaps we need to stop thinking about masks as seat belts and start thinking of them as headlights. Driving at night without headlights isn’t just a danger to you. It’s a danger to others, as well.
At the newspaper office, we’ve been lucky. Staffers who go out in the community almost always wear masks, but that didn’t prevent a second member of our staff — one who long ago was vaccinated and wears her mask religiously — from catching the disease this weekend after having covered various fall activities.
“No one needs to quarantine,” she texted after her diagnosis, even though we now have redoubled our efforts to wear masks whenever we venture out and won’t allow anyone without a mask to visit our office. “I wore masks. No one has to have their life disrupted but me.”
She quickly added that one of her friends wants her to punch an anti-vaxxer and that, even though her symptoms were greatly lessened by having been vaccinated, “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
Ask anyone who’s had the disease. Nearly everyone will say the same thing. That ought to be enough to encourage others to get vaccinated and continue masking up, as the Centers for Disease Control recommends.
It also ought to be enough for us as a community to start rethinking our all-out resumption of non-essential activities.
If you look at weekly numbers of COVID diagnoses in the county, you’ll see clear peaks starting around Halloween last year and continuing around various events, including the start of school, sports, and fall events this year.
Activities necessary for people’s livelihood are one thing, but activities of a purely entertainment nature are another. Do too many of them and we’ll once again have to start limiting activities that people’s livelihoods depend on.
For those who see a grand international conspiracy in all of this, rest assured there is one. Persuading Americans to shirk their duty about masks and vaccination and go on as if everything were business as usual — albeit with government pouring trillions into COVID relief that pays for things that have nothing to do with COVID — leaves us greatly weakened.
It won’t be an army that conquers us, however. It will be foreign bankers foreclosing on our debt.
— ERIC MEYER