Imagine having all the data and the best science available but still not believing it could happen to you.
That, folks, is where we are right now.
On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that he and First Lady, Melania Trump, had contracted COVID-19. It comes after an announcement that Trump’s advisor, Hope Hicks, had received a positive diagnosis. We also learned that a number of prominent Republican leaders have also tested positive. It is very likely there will be others as members of the administration scramble to get tested and regain control of the narrative, which is already filled with conspiracy theories and what-ifs.
While we wish the President and First Lady a speedy recovery, we cannot help but state the obvious: if you choose not to wear a mask, flout social-distancing mandates or host gatherings that well exceed prescribed state limits, the outcome is not likely to be in your favor. Just ask the wedding goers in Millinocket this summer where the infection rate and death toll from a 60-person gathering continue to grow across the state.
Over the last nine months, we have learned that the coronavirus does not care if you are rich or poor, young or old. It certainly does not respect boundaries of any kind. It is silently invading your social gatherings and it will spread as far and wide as allowed – even into the White House.
So far, the coronavirus has infected more than 34 million people and killed more than 1 million worldwide. The United States accounts for more than 7,500,000 of those cases and 213,000 deaths. The numbers by themselves are shocking, but when compared to other countries around the world, the U.S. far and away leads in overall deaths and cases, which is not something we should be proud of.
Given that we can’t actually see coronavirus circulating the way we can see other harmful airborne things, such as cigarette smoke, it might make it easier to dismiss. It might make it easier to believe it is not something that will infect you. But it is, in fact, all the more reason to take it seriously.
It has been disappointing to watch mask wearing become weaponized and for it to have become a political issue for which lines have been drawn. It is sad to see a public heath emergency be hijacked by those without medical training, and for science to be sidelined by politicians.
But that is where we are right now, and until we demand better from our elected officials, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.