How did we go from “flatten the COVID-19 curve” to “shut up and wear the mask—or else” in just a few short months? Back in March, we were told that lockdowns were necessary to ensure COVID-19 cases would not overwhelm hospitals and, in particular, intensive-care units. In most parts of the country, hospitals were not only not overwhelmed, many were forced to lay off nurses and other employees because elective procedures were put on hold — a move that likely cost lives as people postponed health critical screenings and avoided going to the hospital when they had chest pains for fear of catching COVID-19.
Case in point, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who on Wednesday announced a statewide mask order that came with a threat: We’d all better obey him if we want schools to open in the fall.
You have to dig around the Ohio Dept. of Health website to find these numbers. When you land on the site you’re greeted with a graph showing the cumulative number of deaths and hospitalizations, which make it appear there’s been a huge spike, when in fact it’s showing the growth of the cumulative total over time:
So what is the goal at this point? Are we to wear masks until COVID is completely eradicated in the U.S.? Until we have zero cases? And once COVID is eradicated (it won’t be, but stick with me here), shouldn’t we continue to wear them until the flu is eradicated? And the common cold? Rotavirus? RSV? We’re being told that if we love our neighbors (and, by the way, you’re not a real Christian if you don’t’ want to wear a mask) we should be happy to wear a mask to protect them from COVID-19. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to continue to wear them until all contagions have been purged from the face of the earth—in other words, forever.
There’s risk inherent in living life. Each day we calculate the potential risk and make decisions about what we’ll do and where we’ll go. Most of us climb into a car every day and buckle up knowing that 1.35 million people worldwide die in car crashes each year and our morning commute could be our last. Some choose not to drive because the risk is too high. Others drive faster than the speed limit, making the calculus that the benefits of getting to where they’re going faster outweigh the risks.