It's been months since the pandemic began and it's amazing with all of the good science and sound information out there that some people are having a hard time embracing the idea of how to keep safe and how to keep their neighbors safe.
Certainly we understand that wearing masks is uncomfortable. We know that social distancing and not being able to spend time with friends or out on the town is getting tiresome and making us all feel lonely. And there are so many people whose livelihood (jobs and businesses) have been harmed, sometimes irreparably, by the pandemic and all the consequences that have been created. It's not just a health crisis, but an economic one.
But it is real. For months, people said this would disappear after the election (nope), that it was just like having the flu (nope), that it must be fictitious because nobody knew anybody who had it (now we all do) and a whole stream of other nonsense.
But we have to get over this idea of pretending this is not real. Certainly, just like any diseases, it hits some people harder than others. But as you read this there are real people suffering and dying, right here in our community from COVID-19.
It's overwhelming health-care facilities and health-department tracers and the list goes on and on. These are people putting their lives on the line because so many people are treating this disease like it's an urban myth.
Earlier this week, a Watertown alderman proclaimed at a common council meeting that he was glad the number of coronavirus cases were going up because it will bring us closer to herd immunity. It's so preposterously misguided, you want to ignore it, but the false notion keeps coming back.
Wishing for herd immunity is like deciding not to give to the food pantry because if people die of starvation there will be plenty of food left for the people who survive. It's absolutely absurd.
People are dying. People are getting sick. And we are being outsmarted by a virus so small we cannot detect it with the naked eye. But yet, somehow it is outwitting us.
Certainly the rules the Center for Disease Control have issued have changed since the pandemic began. That's because we know more. We are smarter than when the disease began. But smart only works if people use the knowledge they have and stop acting as if it will go away if they just wish it away or pretend it does not exist.
And the rules are so simple that any child could understand them. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid large gatherings, especially indoors. Wash your hands regularly and carefully. Wipe down surfaces that are often touched.
We have these simple weapons at our disposal. We can use them now and keep the virus at bay. It really should not be that challenging.
Herd immunity is real, but until there is a vaccine, it will not come without taking more and more lives. Already in America more than a quarter million people have died and around the world the death toll is 1.3 million. In the state alone, more than 2,800 have died and we are closing in on 100 deaths in our two counties.
We will get to herd immunity if we can be patient a few more months and follow the rules of good health until we can begin vaccination. Once enough people get the vaccines, the virus will have met its match. Until then we can only outsmart it by working together and following good science.