or: (conjunction) the option of one of two possibilities
and: (conjunction) the possibility of two, linked options
I overheard a co-work and client talking about the pandemic the other day. We often banter about various topics while working. The client quoted, “Give me liberty or give me death” regarding government (not clear at what level) restrictions on business and public spaces.
I joked back, “I don’t think that Patrick Henry said, ‘Give me liberty AND give me death”.
I understand the knee-jerk responses that we have developed regarding various hot-topics especially regarding government decisions. But, we often interpret the present distress, discomfort, and inconvenience as future condition. Rarely does the elation of something we like last; nor, the misery of something we dislike last.
Also, rarely does our present methods of doing some task stay the same over time. Punctuate history at any given time and rigidly hold to those attitudes, customs, and routine, and society would not progress. Would you prefer to do you laundry in you home, out on the porch or down the street at the laundromat, dropped off with the fuller, or in a stream on a rock (of note, I have washed clothes in a laundromat, see the remains of the fuller’s laundry in Pompey, Italy, and watched villagers in South Africa clean their household clothes on rocks in streams).
Rigidity of attitude, customs, and routines usually leads to death. Flexibility leads to liberty.
In a recently, local newspaper letter to the editor, a writer expressed rigidity of belief in a questions. I like to answer questions
Mr E, in his Letter to the Editor, 11/18/20, asked the questions, “Many other conditions kill far more people, but we do not alter our way of life to the extent that Covid-19. Why is Covid-19 so special?”.
This sparked my curiosity to investigate some possible answers. With a quick Yahoo search, I found that in 2018, the death rate for various reasons were (rounded to the nearest thousands):
Heart Disease, 665,000
Accidents (not defined, but possibly motor vehicle and falls), 167,000
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease, 159,000
Kidney Disease, 57,000
If we accept that the USA has about 250,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19, it would have rated 3rd place in 2018.
Does anyone care about those other medical conditions? Certainly. We have plenty of foundations to fund research into cures for heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, strokes, dementia, diabetes, etc. In addition to seeking cures for progressive illness, they are advocating healthy lifestyles to reduce risk for individuals. On the federal and state levels, we have health departments which also fund research, follow health trends, and encourage behaviors which we can do to be healthy and safe.
While Mr. E did not state directly, many folks whom I talk with who question the serious nature of Covid-19 also assert that most of those who have died are in vulnerable risk groups and would have died any way. They simply had heart disease plus Covid-19, pneumonia plus Covid-19, etc.
If this were the case, than the death rate should be about the same this year compared to prior years.
However, statistics of all deaths in the USA for 2020 up to October (10 out of 12 months, compared to the full year) indicate that the USA has about 300,000 more deaths than usual. That is pretty close to 250,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19.
So, if we put those heart disease plus Covid-19, etc. deaths back into the other categories, how does we explain why so many disease categories had higher numbers than prior years?
Furthermore, if we look the increase of deaths within age groups, we find that people 45-64 years old died 14% more often, people 65-74 died 24% more often, and those 75-84 died 21% more often in 2020
But, back to Mr. E’s initial question, why are we altering our lives so much Covid-19?
Except for pneumonia, all of the other medical conditions are not contagious.
If I go to the gas station, a local store, or a school sports event, and someone keels over from a heart attack, stroke, or fall, that would be tragic for the person, their family and friends, but I do not worry that I will have a heart attack, stroke, or fall a week later. But, if someone who is infectious for Covid-19, most likely pre-symptomatic, is talking joyfully or cheering enthusiastically, I could get sprayed with Covid-19 droplets or vapor. Maybe I would have a mild case of Covid-19 and lose a couple of weeks of income (I doubt the person who infected me is going to compensate me). Maybe I could end up in the hospital for a few weeks to months and have thousands of dollars in co-pays from my insurance bill (I doubt the person who infected me is going to compensate me). Or, I might die.
But, I do not choose to live under a rock. No one else needs to either. There are many good tasks that we can do, if we follow precautions (I will not say more about masks, physical distancing, hand sanitizing, etc.). Those of us who work in health care, food production, transportation, and other businesses deemed essential, can do our jobs. Those who can work from home can keep their client’s services going. Those who are staying home can use on-line ordering and carrying-out meals to support our local businesses. Those who have children, nieces or nephew, grandchildren, et al can help them with their on-line classes. Those who are bored can support bookstores and artists who are at home or in the studios by following them on-line, purchasing their products, etc. Those who can work in charitable organization can distribute resources to help folks who need food, clothing, shelter, etc. Those who ministers to our spiritual needs can use on-line connections, phone call visitation, and church membership bubbles. Those who govern can use their positions of authority to provide education, safety nets, and legislation which support those whose lives are most restricted by this pandemic.
Let’s get on with good parts of life.