Columbia Memorial Health (1) Careers

EDITORIAL: Choose freedom, not virus

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN if there are over 55 million cases of this damn virus worldwide? Exactly how does it affect our lives that the number of Covid-19 cases is 11.3 million and rising in the U.S.?

It’s easier to pick a day. How about Tuesday, November 17? At that point we had 93 “active cases” of Covid-19 in Columbia County. You probably could have seen that many people in Walmart that day if you were shopping there or getting your annual flu vaccine shot, not that the store has a connection to the pandemic.

Now multiply the active cases by 5 to account for the people who are under mandatory quarantine and you get a total of over 450 people who have temporarily “disappeared” from life as we know it in Columbia County.

In a few days the numbers will be higher—more people will have disappeared. It’s no longer a matter of “if” the numbers will rise. The questions are when and by how much.

We have a coronavirus vaccine. Two of them! From how they’ve been described by their makers both vaccines seem to be what the world needs to rid us of this contagion. It’s likely that these and other vaccines may come with unforeseen problems. That’s normal for any new product. And the virus may pull a few more tricks before we defeat it. Expect that, too.

We know for certain that it will take time before there is enough Covid-19 vaccine to protect everyone who wants it. Most of us will have to wait until our number is called, probably next year, if we’re lucky.

Do you have skills useful in the manufacturing or distribution of high-tech medicines? If so, there could be a big paycheck with your name on it once the vaccine economy gets rolling. You’ll probably have access to early doses of the vaccine too. But how about the rest of us? We remain at risk.

We know more about this ugly bug than we did when it appeared here last winter. It’s not magic or mysterious. It can live on droplets of saliva and mucous that we all spray out of our mouths when we talk or sneeze or cough or laugh or sing. We know that we can pass the virus to others—family, friends and strangers—before we know we’re sick (sometimes without ever knowing we had the virus). We know other people could infect us without meaning to.

Your unprotected sneeze could share the disease with friends and family. The virus scoots into their lungs and makes them sick; many recover, some have long-lasting effects. Some die. Any of them could have passed along the virus.

It doesn’t have to happen. You don’t need an advanced degree in molecular science from a high-priced university to stop this virus. The only thing we need to prevent all the glop that exits our mouth and nose from reaching the people around us is a multi-layer fabric that covers mouth and nose and stays on without you having to hold it there. That’s it.

This Thanksgiving, give your friends and relatives a break. Arrange to stay at least six feet away from them. And if you can’t be assured of that… don’t go. You have to assume that one person among them is contagious with Covid-19. There’s no way you can tell who might be sharing the virus. It could be you. So protect your family and friends. It’s not rude. It’s a gesture of love and respect.

What we spew won’t always be so potentially dangerous. If the vaccines work as well as they claim, we’ll be able to socialize again and share all the glop you want.

The idea behind covering your mouth and nose and keeping your distance from others (washing your hands a lot too) are also expressions of personal freedom. You don’t want anyone to give you an illness that modern medicine can’t yet control. If that means missing a gathering where people aren’t covered up or too many people are gathered in a small space, claim your freedom to be independent of the virus.

The goal is to outlive this virus.

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