COVID-19 Day 74: Freedom is always worth the risk.

Today, Memorial Day, we honor the soldiers who died protecting our freedoms. COVID-19 has been compared to WWII to describe our existential threat and the need for collective sacrifice. It’s also been humorously used to belittle those bemoaning being ‘stuck-at-home’ during the lockdown. I would argue that we haven’t been treating coronavirus enough like a war. 

In WWII, Americans didn’t join the military to die for their country, they joined to fight for their country. They knew there was a risk of death or injury yet they did what had to do in order to protect their families and their way of life. They took precautions, donning protective gear and equipment, and practiced safe weapons handling. 

And then there are those who stayed in the home front to support the war effort and normalcy. Rosie the Riveters went to work factories and shipyards, despite the risks of air raids. Women and minorities had to fight sexism and racism just for the privilege to work. 

In many states hourly workers and small business owners had to protest for the privilege to work. They weren’t asking for more Government stimulus checks, but the chance to work for their families, their peers, and their employee’s families. Fighting the damage done, not by a virus but by their own government, in a desperate attempt to ‘protect them’. We’ve been plunged into a war against a virus but our authorities were and are not allowing the people the right to fight it responsibly. 

If ‘essential workers’ like Walmart employees, supermarket clerks, and gas attendants could work safely throughout the entire pandemic, even before the CDC admitted we needed masks, why couldn’t we expect the same level of responsibility and safety from all employees?

It has been 74 days since President Trump issued a National Emergency. 71 days since Mayor London Breed shut down San Francisco, and 68 days since Governor Gavin Newsom shut down California. We do not have a vaccine, nor an effective drug that reduces the chance of death by more than 10%. Yet despite this, we know so much more today than 68 days ago. Knowledge from the over 5 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide.

• COVID-19 is 1.5-3X more contagious than the flu so it’s much easier to spread it, especially before you feel symptoms. So taking prophylactic precautions like mask-wearing and physical distancing makes sense. 

• There is hardly any chance of spreading it via surfaces so continue to wash your hands and sanitize, and you can safely touch things.

• SARS-Cov-2 virus is destroyed within minutes in direct sunlight (UV) so outdoor activities should be favored over indoor ones, including worship and social gatherings. 66% of COVID-19 cases in New York were contracted at home. 

• Among school-aged children, very few cases have been recorded of COVID-19 infection caught at school from other children. In almost all cases, the child caught their infection from an adult whilst sheltering at home.

• If you are under 65 years old and do not have pre-existing health conditions (diabetes, obesity, transplantee, etc.) your chance of death or serious conditions is comparable to other respiratory viruses. If you are under 25 years of old, it appears to be even lower than the flu.

Knowing these facts should empower us to work more safely. And to create a ‘new normal’. I leave you with the words of a wise former President and WW2 veteran, now buried in Arlington National Cemetary, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”


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