I went to Catholic school, so I learned obedience at an early age.
For weeks, I have dutifully stayed home. We canceled a long-planned vacation with no reimbursements. I miss my kids and grandkids. My hair looks like hell.
I’m healthy and still working, which is more than I can say about a lot of my friends, so I count my blessings and wear a hat. I stay home, cross the street to avoid people when walking the dog and do my part to stop the spread of a highly contagious deadly disease.
Then, whenever I see a loudmouthed bully waving a sign about liberty, comparing thoughtful leaders and public health officials to Nazis, and demanding an immediate end to COVID-19 restrictions, I long for the swift justice of a ruler smacking down hard on the knuckles.
Sister Christella, where are you when we really need you?
The evidence of the importance of continued vigilance is overwhelming.
In Wisconsin, where cynical leaders demanded an in-person primary election be held last month in the midst of the pandemic, at least 36 people who went to polling places have tested positive for the virus. That means hundreds more have been exposed through contact with the infected voters. It’s a totally preventable – unconscionable – new wave of the outbreak.
Even with grossly inadequate testing resources, the data indicate that nearly 20% of us have been exposed and many are asymptomatic carriers. Clearly, the only thing that has kept the outbreak from swamping the health care system is Americans cooperating with the stay-at-home orders.
Dr. Anthony Fauci last week emphasized that a second wave of the outbreak across the country is “inevitable” and the severity of it will depend on how cautiously we proceed with efforts to reopen the country.
If states drop restrictions too quickly, he said, it could “get us right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago.”
We’d reset the clock on the stay-at-home orders. We’d start over.
So it’s no surprise that polls show 80% of Americans support the quarantine measures and say they are willing to continue them to slow the spread of COVID-19, and 66% worry that states will relax restrictions too soon.
But even if the vast majority of us keep our distance, the obnoxious few could keep the virus spreading and seed new waves of the outbreak. In doing that, they don’t just risk their own health, they threaten all of us and our economic recovery.
While the economic impact so far has been horrible, a second wave of the outbreak and another round of severe restrictions are likely to destroy retail, hospitality, travel and other whole sectors of the economy.
We don’t have any easy choices.
Here in Colorado, most people are listening to the governor and the mayors and staying vigilant. We’re mostly ignoring the buffoons who seek to turn a global pandemic into a political sideshow or a photo op.
Let the folks in Georgia go ahead and get haircuts and tattoos, hang out in restaurants and bars, go to the movies and back to the gym, if that’s what they want. They can be the guinea pigs. Coloradans can stand by and watch what happens.
For all those who say the economic cost is too high, I have one question: Who are you willing to sacrifice to reopen the malls, the bowling alleys, the Applebee’s?
A parent? A spouse? A son? Yourself?
Zeke Emanuel has said the world won’t return to something like normal until an effective treatment for the virus is available. Holding out for a vaccine may take even longer. But compelling people to risk contracting a deadly disease for which there is no treatment in the interest of jump-starting the economy is simply immoral.
So, he said, be prepared for normal to elude us until fall of 2021.
That means for now, a lot of us will be staying home, planting lettuce in the back yard and watching our hair grow.
It’s worth it. I’ve watched someone I love die on a ventilator. I know what that looks like.
I can be patient.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.