Finding ourselves HIPAA deep in politics
Brace yourselves. The scariest of days loom large on our ever darker, even frostier horizon. And we’re not talking about Halloween — nor even the sugar-induced comas soon to be inflicted on millions of households after consumption of mass quantities of goodies that costumed kids normally would gobble up if not for a pandemic.
The real trick or treating will begin Tuesday, when the nation finishes seemingly endless weeks of voting and creates a night of the living dead for anxious TV anchors who, unable to make instant projections, might end up endlessly batting balls of yarn across the screen as every shred of planned content except their shellacked hairdos begins melting away.
Whether record levels of early balloting will recast Election Night as Election Month, rivaling the Bush v. Gore debacle of 2000, is yet to be determined.
What’s clear is that while we watch and wait we have to do something about something that wrongly has become a political issue.
Marion County, the United States, and the world at large all are gripped by a third serious peak in COVID-19 infection. Blame the president if you wish. Everyone without an actual job — intellectuals, comedians, and talking TV heads included — already seems to have done so even though this is happening all across the planet, not just in our backyard.
The even more deadly disease we actually face is that COVID-19 has become so politicized, even on the local level, that none of us can get a straight answer about what is happening.
The revelation last week that a nursing home here in Marion County had been the scene of a major outbreak didn’t come from local officials trying to protect the people who pay their salaries. It came from two hours away in Topeka. And it came a week or more too late. The outbreak occurred Oct. 9 through 15. It wasn’t reported until Oct. 21. And even then its true scope wasn’t revealed, only the number of cases between Oct. 9 and 15 — not the number before or after.
Since then, the trickles of information coming out about new COVID cases have been tantalizingly vague. For a few days, there was a surge in cases among those past retirement age — the most vulnerable demographic for the disease. Then, this week, came a sudden surge in cases involving teens.
Were these cases related to nursing homes, senior centers, schools, or other institutions we might want to be wary of?
Maybe someone will tell us — in a few weeks, after it’s too late.
If our firefighters were to replace responding to fires with notifying homeowners several days later that their house had burned down, we’d be clamoring for new firefighters. The same would be true if they stood by in silence and refused to warn against open burning during low humidity and high winds.
It’s time for health officials — and especially the elected officials who constantly seek to muzzle or overrule them — to speak freely, demand such things as mandatory face masks and limits on in-person gatherings, and realize that their No. 1 calling isn’t to abide by arcane details of some obscure federal law named HIPAA but to protect the rest of us.
What’s the true cost of visiting loved ones in nursing homes and refusing to do so though a window or while wearing a mask? Most of those kids we normally give candy to wore masks of a different sort and peered at us through our front door windows and we didn’t think anything of it.
What’s the true cost of allowing school sports and activities to resume, especially when some schools seem to allow fans and participants the perverse freedom to avoid safeguards designed not to protect them but to protect others from a potentially deadly disease they might spread?
Let’s stop calling this Mr. Trump’s virus, or the Chinese virus, of the Not-Much-Worse-Than-The-Flu virus and start calling it what it is: A virus spread by people who are so selfishly concerned about their personal responsibility that they demonstrate less societal responsibility than the typical sociopathic inmate in one of the jails that too often are scenes of massive outbreaks.
COVID-19 isn’t fake news. What it reveals are fake patriots — people who profess their love for America and freedom and by their actions show wanton disregard for the lives of their countrymen.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified Oct. 29, 2020