The great Charles Darwin believed that the fittest of any species could survive any crisis, in turn passing their favorable traits down to the next generation and making the world a slightly more balanced and better place. Today, Americans are divided between being having culturally fit and unfit practices as our norms have been thrown into an unprecedented loop.
As a young person in life, I have made immense sacrifices to control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). My university was forced to go online during the latter half of the spring 2020 semester, my summer internship plans were disrupted, my everyday routines have been upended, and time with friends has been displaced.
Meanwhile, a record number of Americans have suddenly seen their livelihoods turned upside down, their paychecks disappear and their near futures put in doubt during this crisis.
And yet, others, as well as myself, have accepted this because we believe in a personal responsibility to help control the pandemic, which has infected over two million Americans and killed nearly 120,000 as I write this. The effects that this disease has had on uncounted lives is astounding, and I want to help ensure that as few additional innocent members of society as possible are hurt by this nasty pathogen.
On the unfortunate contrary, I cannot help but perceive a casual disdain in the populace when it comes to taking the same precautions. Whether this is because people are tired of making the same essential sacrifices, that the prevailing narrative in this distracted society has moved off the illnesses' wrath or if people naively imagine that the virus clocked out to take a summer vacation starting Memorial Day weekend, this is a paramount concern that I have.
Why does this disappoint me so much? After all, contrary to the 24/7 news cycle, daily coronavirus deaths are actually at a fraction of their April peak.
It's because such a decline in deaths is a blunt and direct result of everyone's efforts back in the spring to slow the spread. Social movements including #FlattenTheCurve, #TogetherAtHome and #Masks4All diverted apprehension into action. It became fashionable to do whatever was necessary to get us through this acute crisis. Regardless of our nation's polarizing divisions, for a few weeks, united we stood, and united our virus cases fell.
Such drastic action was never intended to be permanent, however, and naturally, our strategy has evolved. Instead of broad shutdowns, many of us have started into a phase of awareness and deliberate, cautious, and cost-benefit actions. This is necessary because regardless of what the army of armchair epidemiologists preach on Facebook, the economic health of the country is central in everyone's actual health and well-being (and this includes everyone in our society, not only the affluent).
There are a number of tools in our arsenal to assist in a safe, gradual and prosperous reopening in all states. These factors include but are not limited to a test and trace apparatus, the widespread use of face coverings, and a willingness to create physical space between others in public settings. Each of those utilizations can ensure a return to life's fruits while continuing to protect our brethren.
And as a young, low-risk individual, I strive each day to do any little thing I can to keep the higher risk community safer. This includes taking all the precautions listed above because even though I am statically likely to fare fine in the event I acquire the infamous germ, I know I could unknowingly pass it on to someone who won't be as lucky, or even worse, start a deadly transmission chain.
Which is why it's exasperating to see others not take the same steps. Some see these practices as an unfriendly reminder of the times, while a vocal minority claim to be making political statements. This is no time for fear and even less of a time for politics.
Either we are responsible and reap the rewards, or we are sloppy and remain in an interminable hamster wheel.
And it seems that many people are seemingly choosing the latter. Possibly not a majority, but enough to keep everyone — including the worried well — in something resembling square one.
"No government official can tell you what to wear. It is just wrong," Montgomery, Ala. resident Hugh Scott told WSFA news on June 20 regarding the city's mask ordinance.
A Kentucky convivence store in late-May posted a sign in front of the business that read, "NO Face Masks allowed in the store. Lower your mask or go somewhere else." The Alvin's in the small town of Manchester also pleaded to the public to, "Stop listening to [Kentucky Governor Andy] Beshear, he's a dumbass."
On contact tracing, another proven remedy to slow the virus' spread, some individuals still possess wildly irrational fears over the practice. Texas State Senator Bob Hall proclaimed that "There is never a right time or right way to do the wrong thing. In the COVID-19 scenario, contact tracing is technically wrong, financially wrong, and morally wrong."
Yep, out of the nation's uncountable injustices, contact tracing is the one deemed "morally wrong" in 2020.
It would be one thing if only isolated yeoman held such beliefs, but state and federal leadership reflects these peoples' views too. President Trump has reportedly worn protective face masks on occasion but won't be seen practicing such behavior because he doesn't "want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it." This is while governors of states including Texas and Arizona initially their own banned cities from issuing mandatory mask rules even as transmission rates began to increase in those states.
When this is the view people take on the responsibility to protect themselves and others, winners are nonexistent. Those who believe in the free market have a duty to protect enterprise in this era, but the behavior by some instead is reckless if the goal is to promote an opening of the economy.
This makes me — as someone who has gone out of my way to sure that both myself and people around me remain safe during these uncertain times — infuriated that so many take such a laisse-fair approach.
This is especially so because America is going through its worst economic downtown since the Great Depression. Health-conscious may go through financial or medical ruin at the result of a headless sector. The rugged individualism pushed by the crowd that has always pushed the "freedom isn't free" approach to major cultural issues must look at themselves in the mirror before they continue to cause irreparable harm to others.
Because of such opposite habits being taken by two major sectors of the nation's population, there is only one thing that can be done about an anarchist renegade faction in the fight against the health and economic effects of the coronavirus. As I enter into my senior year of college — possibly my last chance to reap the rewards of formal education — I may have to get selfish against my own principles. I cannot force people to mask up, but I simultaneously can't let them stand between me and the places I need to be in order to be successful in life. As I begin to make the transition from school to a career, I must continue to learn, network, and gain real-world experience in order to be successful.
This stage in life is essential if I want to obtain a quality occupation at any point in my adult life.
So it pains me as a low-risk individual to proclaim that if people of any medical risk aren't going to take the necessary steps to protect us all from the virus, I am going to lose the desire to protect them, and others should feel the same way. We should not happily surrender our rights to educations, jobs, and secure futures for much longer if others are not going to alter their beliefs. Schools, workplaces, and the world at large cannot wait for a segment of the population to get on board with mainstream hygiene techniques, so if they don't want to protect us, the rest of us cannot prop their behaviors up.