More than once I’ve been accused of being a pessimist (at least once by a former supervisor). I’m not an optimist, but I’m no pessimist either. A pessimist expects the worst, while an optimist expects the best.
I, however, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I’d call that being a realist. And because I prefer to focus on practical solutions informed by evidence, I’m also a pragmatist.
Is the covid-19 response effective? In the states, for the most part, yes, though some are reopening too widely too soon and are paying the price in a large uptick of cases (see Texas and its 1,801-case increase in one day reported Saturday). Others, like Arkansas, are being more cautious (though the number of people not taking precautions is what keeps some of us inside except for brief trips for groceries, prescriptions and medical appointments).
On the federal side of things, well … the less said, the better. I’ve spit enough today and am a bit dehydrated.
I’m lucky that I can work from home, as many news and opinion writers are doing, at least as much as is possible. Some media outlets have found the pandemic and its resulting loss of advertising too much to handle and have laid off journalists or closed altogether. Other industries have been closed since March and are only now reopening, if they’re able, while some will never open again.
The realist/pragmatist in me believes, first of all, that politics should have nothing to do with pandemic response. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican or member of the Silly Party. If the virus has affected you, you should be able to get the help you need no matter who is governor or president or who has knelt and kissed the feet of whom. Besides, have those feet been disinfected? And is that a corn I spy?
Businesses fail at the worst and the best of times. Unfortunately, many won’t survive covid-19 closures. However, those that survive will undoubtedly be better prepared in case of any other such event. We should also be patient with those reopening, as they have weeks of catching up to do with regular clients while also dealing with new protocols designed to keep employees and customers safe. (I know my hair appointment next month will be an adventure.) For those who have lost their jobs because of covid-19, a little extra kindness will go a long way, as will the recognition that sometimes government help is necessary.
Some reopenings seem rushed at best, especially considering the usual capacity and often-close quarters. Over the weekend as I returned home from picking up a couple of prescriptions, I noticed a far larger than normal crowd gathered at a shooting range, which brought a few thoughts to mind. Are people expecting a Mad Max scenario in the Walmart aisles? Do they expect to be able to defeat covid-19 with guns (that’d be some fancy shootin’)? And do those who take guns to a protest really think that that’s “peaceful” protesting?
Casinos could surely wait a while longer, yet reopened in Arkansas on Monday. Sure, they’re requiring masks and have sanitizer and cleaning crews and are doing all they can to enforce social distancing, but human nature is strong, and will surely chafe before too long. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Tuesday story on the reopening noted that people in line at Southland in West Memphis had masks pulled down to their chins and were closer than six feet until a guard’s announcement later in the morning. At Saracen Casino in Pine Bluff, patron Reginaldo Ortega told one of our reporters that though he didn’t mind wearing a mask, he didn’t usually do so. “I think if you’ve got corona, or if you’re going to get it, you’ve already got it. I don’t know that it helps.”
That’s the problem. A lot of people don’t seem to understand the guidance on face masks, think they’re unnecessary, believe they’re immune, or think that no one can tell them what to do (their parents and bosses might have a different perspective on that). Conflicting advice in the beginning, aimed largely at conserving PPE for first responders, didn’t help, but now, because of the knowledge that the asymptomatic may unwittingly spread the virus (as recommendations often change when more is known, not because liberals are trying to “get” the Oval Office resident), the CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”
That’s an important caveat. While covering your face won’t necessarily protect you from other people’s germs, it will protect others from yours. As demonstrated in a “urine test” meme that’s made the rounds lately, cloth coverage will help protect you from the worst effects. Sure, the meme is kind of gross (especially if you’re the person in the pee-soaked pants), but it’s an effective, if simplistic, analogy.
In a society that claims to care for others, we should be willing to use a mask in public for everyone’s protection. We also shouldn’t be surprised when those who defy that guideline aren’t allowed entrance somewhere masks are required. Business owners have rights too, and if they say masks are required if you want to be there, you wear a mask or you don’t go in.
Want to die with your rights on? Fine, but don’t take the rest of us with you.
I was raised to think of other people and how they could be affected by my actions. If I smoked (which I don’t), I would make sure that I did so in a way that wouldn’t adversely affect others, like those allergic to cigarette smoke (which I am). I also am considerate when driving, shopping or doing anything out in the world that could hurt others and/or break the law.
That’s why I choose to follow the rules set for me by businesses, government and others. I had to answer questions and have a temperature check before I was allowed to go to my doctor’s office on Monday (everything’s fine, but my LDL is a little elevated … grrrr). Does it bother me? No, because it’s for the greater good.
That’s why I choose to wear a face mask when I’m out in public. While I don’t have covid-19, I do frequently have colds and allergy attacks, and no one needs me sneezing all over them (some may deserve it, but Mama said not to).
I’m more cautious than some, and not cautious enough for others (ahem, you know who you are; but to be fair, hand sanitizer bothers my skin). I’m choosing the path that’s best for me. Things will reopen, hopefully at a pace that is safe and suits most people. I’ll get there when I get there.
But don’t be surprised if I’m still wearing a mask.