We’re sick and tired of having to worry about getting sick and tired. But as much as we hate listening to the drumbeat of bad news about our pandemic, we hate it even more when responsible citizens and officials adopt an ostrich approach and bury their heads not behind protective face masks but in mounds of uncaring and unenlightened sand.
Why did the state decide, in the middle of the most serious outbreak of COVID to date, to simply take the day off Monday and not bother to update the public on spread of the disease? The state’s new penchant for reporting only three times a week is bad enough without taking one of those days off and not making up that day.
Why do some, but not all, local school districts behave as if it’s no one’s concern but theirs whether kids are contracting and spreading the disease? Why do we have to hear about clusters of cases in two Marion County schools not from the schools in prompt fashion but from distant bureaucrats weeks later?
Some districts, like Hillsboro’s, have been freely sharing information with everyone, including the general public. Others have been impossible for reporters to reach. Some ignore the pandemic altogether. Others post information only in locations that people intimately associated with the school can access. If schools are only for students and parents, why should the rest of us bother to pay taxes to support them?
Cowardly administrators and officials, influenced by parents who regard school not as education but as day care, seem to treat news of infections as if they were state secrets — charitably so as not to “alarm” the public, more likely because they think resulting stigma will rub off on them.
We cannot for the life of us — and quite literally, that might be what’s at stake — understand why only some districts in the county canceled classes and extra-curricular activities like sports.
We might understand not wanting to cancel the Hillsboro boys’ basketball season. Like the Kansas Jayhawks two years ago, when the NCAA tournament was canceled, they are favorites to win it all. But no other team in the county has anywhere near that kind of inducement to continue risking infection by having unprotected games.
Tell people they need to wear masks, as several school districts currently are doing, and they’ll comply. A recent Jayhawk basketball game required all spectators to wear masks or risk ejection. Despite the rule, 16,300 cheering fans still crowded Allen Fieldhouse. The risk that no one will come if masks are required is much less than the risk that someone in the gym will spread COVID to someone else who will end up spreading it to someone who may very well die from it.
Playing politics with the pandemic must stop. Even loyal Republicans like us need to start chastising would-be Republican challengers of our Democratic governor for criticizing declaration of a health emergency.
Nearly one out of every 32 people in Marion County is suffering from an active case of COVID-19 as of this writing. If that isn’t an emergency, what is?
Wearing or not wearing a mask shouldn’t become a political or social statement. It should become a loving and patriotic duty to protect our fellow citizens.
If the only inconvenience from wearing a mask is that you might get rude comments from an ostrich of a human being who’s swallowed political Flavor-Aid like members of a Jonestown, Guyana, sect, that’s the person that needs to be embarrassed, not you.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified Jan. 20, 2022