There are now over 200 million cases worldwide of COVID-19 and over 4.5 million deaths according to statistics. As of 24 hours ago, the New York Times reported over 700,000 deaths in this country alone. It has been a little over a month since I last discussed this topic. The needle has moved slightly now that we are in a battle of mandates versus freedoms. Let’s face it, whether you have been for or against the health and safety protocols or rubrics enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, most human beings can agree that no one enjoys being told what to do. Children often do not like it and adults despise it. Yet today, this is where we are having to put mandates in place not just to take part in social activities but in some cases also to work. Should we really be surprised? Did we think this was going to be a peaceful let’s hold hands moment? I naively thought yes for once that all humans no matter our backgrounds could engage in one common fight and that is against the unrelenting and devastating COVID-19 virus. Sadly, I could not have been more wrong.
The Persistent Truth
Having to resort to mandating someone to do something usually does not draw praise. Yet, the fact is, someone has to make the tough decision to weigh the overall safety of the masses versus the minority. It raises a contentious debate over personal choices and differences that can be applied to almost everything from the right to bear arms to abortion to euthanasia. The fact is that there will never be an overall agreement with any mandates as we see what has played out not just among labor unions and entities in this country but across the world. The present argument of personal choice versus public health crisis and whether the risk to public health has priority over individual choice is one that has only gained momentum as this pandemic rages on. The reality is that this is not the first time in history that we have faced a serious global public health threat. The difference now is we have social media and a broader reach to encourage mass hysteria and false truths that clog both sides of the argument. We have more excuses to be at odds against each other as opposed to working together. We have a World Health Organization that most countries seem to ignore. You have some members of the public that rely on Facebook, social media, and irresponsible media sources to get their facts from. You hear many people say they have to do research and they do not trust our leaders but when exactly and where is this research happening? We are almost two years into this pandemic and the science is public along with plenty of medical sources and outreach to hard-hit communities and populations. Before we arrived at many places instituting mandates there was plenty of hand holding and patience for people to follow the science and be responsible for stopping the spread of this disease. Instead, people did not want to be told what to do and here we are now pitted against each other, the vaccinated against the unvaccinated. This fight for individual freedom is not just about vaccines but against all protocols that have been suggested. As a parent, I can understand concerns over new treatments. I cannot understand how wearing a piece of cloth over your face is harmful to a child if it is designed to protect them from a potentially deadly outcome.
Mandates are uncomfortable and will naturally alienate a segment of the population. I expect to see them increase globally as time goes on. We started with certain countries imposing restrictions on travel and then requirements to take part in certain activities, hence we should not be surprised by the issuance of mandates for vaccines or mask-wearing. We are almost two years into this pandemic and it amazes me that we are finding reasons to argue about everything as opposed to working together and being much more appreciative that we are much more aware now than we were in late 2019 and early 2020. The longer we resist efforts to curb the spread and improve the battle against the virus, we are promoting unnecessary long-term impacts. The hope is instead of resisting milestones achieved that we learn to work together and embrace them. We all long to go back to normalcy. Some have already done so and some never changed behavior. The reality is with therapeutics on the near horizon, vaccines, and initiatives that we know work such as mask-wearing and social distancing, we can achieve that level of normalcy so many crave. The question is how bad do we want it and is it worth the battle of resisting solutions versus embracing the change needed to finally win the battle against COVID-19? I would think 700,000 plus lives lost and counting is more than enough reason to want to win.