A Letter to the COVID Deniers in My Life

Dear friend or loved one:

It has been too long. If you do not live with me or did not grow up in the same household I did then chances are we have not seen each other in a long, long time. I wish that were not the case. I hear that you are over this pandemic. Aren’t we all? Maybe you think that the “cure is worse than the disease.” Maybe you believe that this is all a political witch hunt to hurt President Trump. Or that this is some ploy by “the government” to control us. Perhaps you simply don’t feel like having your life interrupted by a disease that “only” kills 3% of the people who get it. After all, that means 97% of people recover! I’ll take those odds!

If you believe those idiotic conspiracy theories about a global conspiracy to take down Donald Trump or that people as different as Mike DeWine and Gretchen Whitmer are somehow both conspiring to strip you of basic rights, nothing I say will ever move you. You are simply too deep in the fever swamps to be saved. Good luck on your quest to find Bigfoot and uncover the moon landing fraud when you are done protecting our freedoms from our duly elected government officials and stopping the global pedophile ring.

For those of you who still live in reality, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. This disease is much worse than the pain it is causing economically (which we can largely overcome through smart government spending, innovative local policies, and measured openings/closings as the numbers dictate). And that death rate is crazy high. The seasonal flu, a deadly disease that we have somewhat tamed with vaccines and better treatment, only kills

For those of you who still live in reality, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. This disease is much worse than the pain it is causing economically (which we can largely overcome through smart government spending, innovative local policies, and measured openings/closings as the numbers dictate). And that death rate is crazy high. The seasonal flu, a deadly disease that we have somewhat tamed with vaccines and better treatment, only kills

For those of you who still live in reality, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. This disease is much worse than the pain it is causing economically (which we can largely overcome through smart government spending, innovative local policies, and measured openings/closings as the numbers dictate). And that death rate is crazy high. The seasonal flu, a deadly disease that we have somewhat tamed with vaccines and better treatment, has a mortality rate that is usually well below 0.1%. This is somewhere near 30 times more lethal. Our numbers are trending dangerously high again and it is going to lead to hundreds of thousands more deaths.

Don’t take my word (or the WHO, who I got that flu figure from) for it. There are a plethora of sources out there screaming that this is getting worse again. Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic has a great piece on the third coronavirus surge. You should read it. The numbers are not good.

The United States is sleepwalking into what could become the largest coronavirus outbreak of the pandemic so far. In the past week alone, as voters prepare to go to the ballot box, about one in every 1,000 Americans has tested positive for the virus, and about two in every 100,000 Americans have died of it. Today, the United States reported 73,103 new cases, the third-highest single-day total since the pandemic began.

The Coronavirus Surge That Will Define the Next 4 Years

Put quite simply, this pandemic is not close to over. There is no doubt that our treatments are improving and the progress towards vaccines has been remarkable– and thank god for that– but we are a long way off from getting this disease under control. Yet millions of Americans, including you, have decided this is either not a real threat or that it simply doesn’t matter that much. I get it– this is exhausting and public officals are giving a lot of mixed messages. There is a good chance the news you consume has spent a lot of time telling you this is no big deal. Lots of people you know on social media are also saying they don’t know anyone who has died or has ongoing health issues from COVID– how bad can this really be?

COVID denial by media members and by certain motivated political actors– none more so than the President of the United States– undermines our safety, puts millions of additional Americans in harm’s way (ask Chris Christie about it), and is the single biggest impediment to our nation resuming something resembling a normal life. Never before in the history of this nation have political leaders and their mouthpieces ignored a public health crisis or signaled to their voters/viewers that the threat isn’t real and that the suggestions advanced by our government health agencies and scientists should be ignored. Put quite simply, they are the single biggest roadblock to getting all of our lives back to normal.

So while our public health officials are telling us this is getting bad again and the publicly available numbers are showing the same, many of you are loudly proclaiming this to be over– at least, you are over dealing with it. I see and hear a lot of anger. Anger that the Governor might shut things down again. Anger that the schools aren’t as fully open as you’d like or that your kids are missing big milestones (we all feel that). It is ok to be disappointed, but your solution that we do nothing and just go back to pre-COVID life simply isn’t acceptable.

Again, this isn’t just my opinion. It is the approach nearly every leader in business, government, and education is making. Several of my clients have expanded their office footprints for the next several years to accommodate social distancing and have installed plexiglass dividers in production areas. Others are telling their office employees to prepare to work from home indefinitely– perhaps for good. Local schools– including at least one with a conservative leaning board that had pushed hard to reopen– here in the Columbus area are delaying their plans to fully reopen because they cannot come anywhere close to following the public health guidelines. Hospitals and public health agencies are warning their communities that they are approaching capacity and what that means for their ability to care for the public. Governor DeWine is warning that he may reinstitute earlier restrictions meant to contain the spread of the virus if people do not start voluntarily following guidelines and getting the numbers to go back down. Local newspapers are pleading for people to follow public health guidelines as case numbers skyrocket, as they did in my hometown of Lima, Ohio today. The state is running ads with OSU legends Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer begging people to wear masks and follow social distancing rules. These aren’t a bunch of progressives hell-bent on destroying Donald Trump or to take your freedoms from you– they are fellow Ohioans who do not want you to die.

Look, no one likes pandemic life, but we have a moral obligation to look out for one another. Sacrifice a little now so that more of the people that we love can be alive to enjoy life later. Think of your elderly parents and/or grandparents. Think of the friend who is a cancer patient or the cancer survivors in your life. Think of your uncle with heart disease. Think of your son or daughter who has asthma. Think of your immunocompromised teacher or your diabetic pastor. These people do not deserve to have seriously elevated chances of dying because you were “not afraid” and decided to live life as though nothing had changed.

The sacrifices are not small. The relative isolation is hard on all of us– even the most introverted crave time with their loved ones and friends. Online learning puts tremendous strain on our kids, parents, and teachers. It is miserable. Losing your job threatens your sense of self and your ability to provide the bare necessities of life. Missing life events– not being able to have wedding with your friends and family, a child’s first day of school or graduation, the holidays, class reunions, and the like– sucks. I know because these are all things that I have had happen to me or that I have missed already. And all of it sucks a lot less than losing someone you love.

Be kind. Wear the mask. Keep your distance. If you must gather, keep it small, spaced, outside (if possible), or with people in your cohort. Don’t do this out of fear for yourself. Do it out of respect for everyone else.

I love you all. Stay safe.

Jeremy

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