The fear of COVID-19 is more threatening than the disease itself | COMMENTARY
By Cal Thomas
For The Baltimore Sun|
May 14, 2020 at 8:29 AM
The choice before us seems to be no choice at all: stay inside and have no human contact with another soul, keep businesses closed, denying a livelihood to millions, or step outside and risk death. I believe the risk is small when comparing the number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have recovered with the number who have died, fear may be the greater threat.
Some of a certain age may recall the fears promoted during the Cold War. There were newspaper stories and TV documentaries about how long survivors of a nuclear war would have to stay inside reinforced shelters until the fallout dissipated to a point it was safe to go out. Then, it was Geiger counters that would determine the level of radioactivity. Today's Geiger counters are temperature gauges held to our foreheads. Symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing and fever, as well as high-risk factors, such as age and underlying health conditions, are also part of the diagnostic equation.
We are told to frequently wash our hands, not touch our faces, don’t shake hands with anyone, practice social distancing — we can recite these from memory — but then we are also told to stay inside and only go out for “necessities,” such as food and prescriptions.
Grocery stores where I shop require masks when entering and one-way traffic aisles. A hard plastic "wall" separates me from the cashier, who is also wearing a mask. Hand sanitizers and wipes are available at the entrance and exit where cart handles are wiped down after each use.
If these practices are almost as good as staying home, why can’t all businesses employing these practices, including restaurants and bars, be opened so people can make a living and not rely on government, whose debt now exceeds levels that will never be reduced without spending cuts (and likely tax increases if Democrats win the November election)? Restaurants can place tables six feet apart. Those operating in warmer climates could add outside tables, benches and chairs. For the fearful, takeout orders could be ramped up.
Last Sunday, my wife and I went to a local restaurant. Tables had been removed. We wore masks as did staff behind the counter. We purchased our food, left the place and ate outside without masks where tables and benches were available. There were others there, not all of whom were six feet apart. People engaged in social interaction, which is what humans do and need to do. No one seemed fearful.
As experts have noted, it could be months and possibly longer before a vaccine is created. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate committee Tuesday there is no guarantee a vaccine will work. And there probably is more than one strain, as with influenza, so a single vaccine is unlikely to protect everyone from every strain. Does that mean staying at home until perfect safety can be guaranteed? The public won't stand for it. Demonstrators are already petitioning state governments to open up to redress their grievances.
Writing on his Facebook page, rock musician Ted Nugent expresses the growing frustration of many: “Why do I have to stay home just because you are scared? How about you stay home ... you stay in your house indefinitely, you wear a mask, you socially distance yourself from me, you avoid restaurants, you avoid baseball games, you stay off the roads, you avoid malls and beaches and parks ... I’m done playing your dumb game ... I’m no longer going to be a prisoner of your fear. I’m no longer staying in my house or catering to you because you are scared ... your fear is not an excuse to destroy America. Your fear is not my fear and your fear does not have the right to interfere with my life, my job, my income or my future as a free American citizen.”
Look for Cal Thomas’ new book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan. Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.