Crisis is a test of our sense of the common good

By Sarah E. Reynolds | May 01, 2020

Already some restive residents of our state are calling for the lifting of the governor's stay-at-home order and the civil emergency. They are more concerned about their livelihoods than their lives, they say. By golly, it's their right to go out in public, sick or not, and if someone else gets a fatal illness — well, gee, that's too bad for them.

Only in America could a public health emergency be painted as a political plot by people who think wishes are a substitute for science. Of course, we're all tired of being at home; we all want to go out and see friends, eat in restaurants, visit the gym — even work in our offices, where we don't have to play doggie doorman every 10 minutes or arbitrate fights between the kids. But going back to our beloved, much-missed "normal" too soon could easily result in a second, deadlier wave of infections.

Given the shortage of tests and the fact that only people with symptoms have been tested (and not all of them), we really don't know who has the coronavirus, and can therefore pass it on. It has been reported that up to 25% of transmissions are thought to be from people with no symptoms: We do not have a handle on this virus yet.

I'm not one of those people who's afraid of the mail, or who can't step outside without a Lysol wipe to put between me and the rest of the world. But it is too soon to start assuming that just because someone feels fine, they are fine, and won't pass a deadly infection to someone else. And contrary to what you may have heard, it's not just old folks, whom we are apparently prepared to jettison, who may die from it. People with diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, those who are significantly overweight and others with underlying health problems are also at risk, regardless of age. Even some perfectly healthy people in the prime of life have died from COVID-19.

It's time to stop thinking about protecting ourselves and start being more concerned about who we might infect without knowing it. That's why you can't visit Grandma in the nursing home, or see anyone in a hospital — it's you, it's me — we're the potential carriers of severe illness or death. This crisis is a test of whether we can resurrect an honest-to-God sense of the common good in this country. If we aren't able to learn to put others' well being ahead of our own wants, legitimate as those wants may be, we simply don't have a viable society anymore.

The current situation has already forced millions of people to make sacrifices they never expected to have to make, and can ill afford. And it will demand more. It will require us to keep sacrificing — businesses, jobs, friends, economic stability, health, lives — unless we stay home, test widely and take vigorous precautions when we have to be around others until the number of new infections goes down and stays down. We will have to continue to marshal the vast resources of the government at all levels to help repair our fellow citizens' lives and health.

You're not going to catch this bug from your mail, a package, the food you bought at the grocery store. You're going to catch it from other people — or maybe they will catch it from you. So stay the heck away from them.

Longtime Courier Publications staff member and columnist Sarah Reynolds is the editor of The Republican Journal.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 01, 2020 14:40

The common good. What a novel idea. Excellent article Sarah.  Thankful we do not get mixed messages from Governor Mills or Dr. Shah.  Appreciate their integrity and gift of service to the rest of us. The least we can do is what they ask.  It has led to a flattening of the curve and made life easier for us all; although it may not look that way at times.  We can do it because we are in this together FOR THE COMMON GOOD.  ;)

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | May 01, 2020 12:50

Excellent call for Mainiacs to think of the greater good and act accordingly! (Americans have no real idea of suffering. Think of The Siege of Leningrad; the invasion of Poland in WWII; the Holocaust victims; our genocide of Native Americans, etc., etc.)

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