We all remember the hullaballoo in 2020 and 2021 with the wild spread of a novel coronavirus not so affectionately called COVID-19. Shutdowns, shelter-in-place, mask mandates, social distancing: they began with exhortations to comply to “flatten the curve,” meaning to slow transmission so hospitals and doctors wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Slowing transmission quickly morphed into “stop the spread,” which as we all either knew or discovered could not and did not happen.
The virus still spread like wildfire. A lot of people died. Then came reports of anyone who tested positive for the virus was considered a COVID fatality regardless of the actual cause of death. Public trust eroded. Some people followed the money: hospitals received extra funds for COVID-related deaths, so they every incentive to report as many deaths as possible as COVID-related. Public trust further eroded. Drug companies rushed through research and production to produce vaccines of dubious effectiveness and widely reported, terrible side effects. Society quickly divided between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, regardless of whether one had already built up immunity or at least resistance via already contracting the disease.
Due to ethical concerns regarding the vaccines and distrust of public officials’ widely varying recommendations, many people resisted vaccination. The CDC revised its definition of “vaccine,” which did little to build the public trust. The vaccine—which still does not have FDA approval—remained a contentious issue with many advocating for “herd immunity.” Forced vaccinations further eroded public trust, especially in high profile cases when seemingly healthy individuals died from severe heath issues not present before vaccination.
Strangely enough, one of the least political groups in the USA—Amish and Mennonite communities—relied on herd immunity. Generally averse to technology and advanced medicine, they also cherish those things we lost during two years of pandemic craziness: community and care. Our children also lost two years of education, a social catrosphe that will resonate for decades.
This year, the news is being filled with articles and broadcasts of a new and even more easily transmissible variant of COVID-19. They all express suprise and come loaded with dire warnings. Some public and health officials and schools are once again mandating face masks. Will they also soon order shutdowns and shelter-in-place mandates?
I don’t know why this is a surprise. Every year in the USA, school starts in August after a summer break lasting a few weeks to three months. All coronaviruses (there are seven known human coronaviruses) are readily transmissible, particularly in crowded conditions. Bringing hordes of children and teens indoors with adults into school buildings creates the perfect atmosphere for the spread of germs. This happens every year. School starts, kids get sick, they bring their germs home to share with families, their infected parents go to work, and those parents spread the germs to their coworkers.
In short, the rising numbers of infection are not a suprise. It’s predictable. What’s also predictable is the rising furor over a renewed epidemic comes as election season gets under way. I dislike linking the two together, but it’s been too coincidental to be happenstance.
Review the information and consider the sources of that information. Life is not without risk, so you have to weigh the risks of another round of social isolation and mandates against the risks of liberty. Then make your choice.