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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Blindly Taking Orders Is Unhealthy

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The latest epidemic news in my neck of the woods concerns a group of sixteen friends who went to a bar with all becoming infected. Seven workers from the bar also became infected; and there may have been others, from what I can glean from a CNN interview segment embedded at the link.

The thing that strikes me the most from this report, as with most other reporting in general and regarding the epidemic in particular is that there sure is plenty of sloppy, half-wishful thinking to go around.

bar.jpg
Be comfortable with catching corona, or sit outside and wait for service. (Image by Alexander Popov, via Unsplash, license.)
According to [Kat] Layton, [Erika] Crisp, and others in their friends group who have been thrust into public view, the whole reason they went public with their diagnoses was to warn the general public against complacency.

"It's all a bit overwhelming but we want to invoke real change," Layton said. "Many bars and restaurants had their employees tested and shut down with any positive test results. Although we don't want to hurt the local economy, we are putting human lives at the forefront of our minds."

Currently, under the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida is in Phase 2 of reopening the state. Entering the second phase meant bars, movie theaters and other entertainment establishments are allowed to host half their capacity.

"The governor, mayor, everybody, said it was fine," Crisp said in a CNN interview. "It was a mistake. We got super sick almost immediately. Within days." [bold added, link omitted]
Good on them for warning against complacency, I guess, but why is anyone trusting the judgement of politicians on something as important as their own health? And since when has a health care worker deferred to elected officials on a matter of professional judgement?

Please note further that this report is coming out even as experts are drawing a bead on how this virus spreads. (See also the two reports I wrote about here.) A moment's thought reveals bars -- which I, too, miss -- can easily pose a corona risk trifecta:
[T]he major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly -- or singing, in one famous case -- maximize the risk.

These emerging findings are helping businesses and governments devise reopening strategies to protect public health while getting economies going again. That includes tactics like installing plexiglass barriers, requiring people to wear masks in stores and other venues, using good ventilation systems and keeping windows open when possible. [bold added]
In other words, the "mistake," to borrow Erika Crisp's word, wasn't reopening the economy "too soon," but going to a bar and throwing caution to the wind. And, while I regard our government's decision to close the economy down as wrong and counterproductive in many ways, I don't remember anyone proclaiming the epidemic to be over.

And I would be extremely suspicious if I did.

Nevertheless, when people get used to taking orders from the government regarding such an important matter as one's health, I guess they also get used to not doing very much thinking about their own welfare. This will be music to the ears for the likes of Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and the rest of the crowd who started of preaching "Flatten the curve," but quickly pivoted to indefinite home detention: They will point to such carelessness as "proof" that people are too stupid to watch out for themselves; that freedom is dangerous.

Not being very, very clear about this group's personal responsibility for getting infected was a big disservice on the part of everyone involved in the reports of this spreading event that I have seen so far.

(This is not to say that the government has no role relating to an epidemic. It does, but limited to the protection of individual rights. Part and parcel of that is communicating the risks posed by the epidemic and why it is imposing new measures (if any). This is very different from indefinitely imprisioning everyone and assuming the role of "health watchdog" on behalf of everyone regardless of their wishes or judgement.)

The news media, especially, are failing us here: This is a moral to this cautionary tale, but not about the horrors of full-grown adults having freedom. It's, "Be careful out there," and that's good news for anyone paying attention.

There are specific types of situations one can avoid -- the "three C's" of crowds, confinement, and close contact -- to greatly reduce the risk of contracting this illness while work continues on a vaccine and medical knowledge of how to treat the illness continues to improve.

As the epidemic has unfolded, my own thinking has changed from, "We're all going to catch this anyway," to "It is genuinely possible to do many things I want to do, and avoid catching this for a long time, if at all. And, the longer I avoid catching it, the greater the odds of successful treatment or being able to take a vaccine and avoid it altogether."

I ask anyone reading here to consider how much more a positive regard for one's own health motivates hygenic behavior than blind fear, and waiting around for orders and permissions.

-- CAV

P.S. On re-reading the last two paragraphs, I see that they seem self-congratulatory. (Yes. I find that irritating and off-putting, and I am mortified to catch myself doing it.)

What I had hoped to convey is that a selfish desire to remain healthy for positive reasons will always be more effective than rule-oriented, avoidant, passive approach, such as that being fostered by most news media and much of government today.

Updates

Today
: Slightly changed some wording and added a P.S.

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