We Are All Lab Rats

Blog#29- 5/25/20

Richard Davis

As the death toll continues to climb in the U.S. and worldwide during the COVID 19 pandemic, economic and social needs are becoming more of a priority than the prevention of morbidity and mortality. Societies are opening and trying to be as cautious as possible, but even scientifically based efforts and careful monitoring are nothing more than a crap shoot. Every move we make is nothing more than wishful thinking, because we still do not know a lot about the potential of the virus

If you want to stay safe during the coming months the only way to do so is to minimize your contact with other people, wear a face mask in public places and use hand sanitizer liberally. This may sound like the same old mantra and it is, because the COVID 19 virus is still multiplying among us and we have no cure and only supportive treatment for those who contract the virus.

As retail stores, beaches, restaurants and other public venues cautiously open and increasing numbers of people disregard warnings to use masks and keep their distance, it is clear that many places will see a surge in new virus cases. We are being sent out to try to bolster commerce because business leaders and government officials want to save the crumbling economy.

A significant number of Americans continue to display a disregard for life as they push to open up the society they think they need right now. How much are they willing to sacrifice to feel good again about living the life they want to live? We will soon find out.

I am not wishing for bad things to happen but a spike in new virus cases seem inevitable. We have put measures in place to cut down on the number of new cases and the number of deaths. We are now relaxing those measures and, somehow, we are expecting those numbers to continue to decline without any cure on the immediate horizon. This is what is known as magical thinking.

We will soon find out if the use of masks and the practice of social distancing can prevent a surge in new virus cases. Based on Memorial Day weekend news reports of large numbers of people all over the country defying best practices bad news seems likely.

To date there have been 1,659,915 U.S. COVID cases and 97,477 deaths. Worldwide there have been 5,311,089 cases and 342,104 deaths. Some countries continue to see increases in those numbers and many countries are ignoring best practices as their citizens suffer and die.

Within the next two to four weeks we will see the results of this country’s relaxation of pandemic control measures. If I believed that most people understood what we are dealing with and that they would behave in a manner that helps all of us then I would be hopeful that the numbers will stop rising and level off.

But it only takes a few people who seem to have shut off the commonsense part of their brain (if they have such a part) and put their own needs above others to make things bad for all of us. Sadly, a fair number of those people are running this country as executives in state and national offices.

We crave leadership, but the models are too few and the lack of a national plan to deal with the virus forces us all to be lab rats in a macabre social experiment.

Comments | 1

  • Clap louder, for Tinkerbell!

    “I am not wishing for bad things to happen but a spike in new virus cases seem inevitable. ”

    I agree. Rushing to open, getting sloppy with social distancing, being tired of being careful… it adds up.

    I get that people are irritated and tired of being told what to do. I don’t quite understand why some want to risk illness or death over such simple things as staying a few feet apart and covering one’s mouth. Have they also stopped brushing their teeth, wearing seatbelts, obeying weight limits in elevators, keeping fingers out of electrical sockets, and keeping clothes on in public? Why follow other rules if you don’t want to follow these new ones?

    I find it unlikely that we’ll go back to “the way things were” – ever. Politicians have decided that no more relief is needed for businesses or individuals, which I feel puts us in a downward spiral of cutting costs and less money flowing through the system overall. There are some pretty big holes in the state budget to fill (or remove by cutting).

    In terms of politics, it seems we are heading way back… to pre Civil War days. For quite a while it was entertainment, then things got stupid and divisive for a few decades, and now we are seeing the political divide becoming outright dangerous.

    It would not surprise me if this year’s election season results in violence. It wouldn’t surprise me if “fake news” election results are ignored. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a candidate intend to stay in office despite the results. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine supporters of said candidate defending him in stupid ways that break laws. And I would find it in character for the country to not really do much about it other than write some pointed editorials and tweet furiously, and lament the good old days of Dick Cheney.

    But that is politics. For COVID – I plan to err on the extra safe side of things if I can. I’m in no rush to get out and about. Other lab rats can run that experiment.

    The ‘burdens” of washing hands, staying 6 feet apart, and wearing a mask are tiny ones – not really even worth complaining about. To get worked up into a political fervor over safety makes me wonder what would happen if an emergency came along that needed significant and major burdens imposed for survival. Will people who “did the right thing” get mad at those who didn’t if they cause another shutdown? How will this all get blamed on liberals? : )

    How health and safety became political is something for researchers to study carefully.

    Anyhow, the opening up of things does seem a lot like wishful thinking. We all will be closely following what happens to the other lab rats. If COVID numbers climb again, will people continue to demand things be opened up further?

    (One final question about hand sanitizing – aren’t most of the hand cleaners anti-bacterial? Which one is anti-viral?)

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