The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name ~ Confucius
Last weekend we attended a local art fair, held in the public square. The day was hot and bright, so we thought it best to arrive when it opened and return home before the temperature climbed too high. Even though the fair was held outdoors, I wore my mask, one of a very few people to do so in the quickly-growing crowd of people. Everywhere I looked, there were groups of unmasked people of every age speaking in close conversations, exchanging money, sharing meals, crowding in booths, and playing instruments on stage.
For me, it felt a bit like a Twilight Zone episode. Weren’t any of these people concerned about the delta variant of Covid-19? Yes, we were outdoors, and our local current risk level is “low” (43.8% of the population is fully vaccinated), but across the country, cases are up 70%, with a 36% increase in hospitalizations, as reported last Friday. The delta variant appears to be about 225% more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 strains, and young adults and children are at greater risk. Why not anticipate the tide turning instead of drowning?
The delta variant’s rapid spread means that, at some point, likely soon, the unvaccinated 56.2% of our population will be at greater risk, and those of us fully vaccinated could certainly experience unpleasant days of infection that probably won’t put us in the hospital, but will undoubtedly make us wish we hadn’t been exposed. (Read John Pavlovitz’s account of his ¾-vaccinated family’s experience with Covid-19.)
How could we know that Saturday’s crowd didn’t harbor a few delta-infected people? Why were so many people willing to call the pandemic done and done, take no preventive measures, and expose themselves and so many more to the virus? And all of this is preventable by choosing reasonable caution and practicing simple public health measures. We could all have worn masks, used hand gel, worn gloves, kept a safe distance, and still enjoyed the day and glorious art offerings.
All over the world, it seems people are just deciding, against all scientific data and mathematical logic, that Covid-19 has disappeared forever. But calling a given day “Freedom Day” doesn’t make it so when viral variants are still thriving and seeking hosts. It would seem greater diligence than ever is needed as we travel to safer and healthier days. Wouldn’t that be the wiser choice?
I’m so sad that people, for largely ignorant reasons, are not availing themselves of the vaccine, not just because they’re now the sole population dying from the virus, but because they’re making stronger variants possible. We’re so close to defeating this virus and yet we keep pushing home plate further away.
Illogic and too-easily-consumed misinformation are prolonging and intensifying our collective suffering and may defeat the miracle of the vaccines already developed. Humans abhor sacrifice and discomfort. Historically, it’s always been so, but the vaccine is here, free, and accessible. Confucius says calling things by their proper name is the beginning of wisdom. There are people all over the world who would welcome the vaccine, while more than half of those in our community (and more than 40% nationally) reject its saving medicine and saving grace. Let us call such people selfish and irrational; let us call such times tragic and perilous; let us hope for a day we may call ourselves wiser and healed.
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