In spending far too much time on Internet forums and such, I saw a comment from someone I knew to be a sweet lady, kindly, and generous.
In talking about the Covid-19 crisis, she did not agree with the social distancing, mask-wearing, and changes in her routine, saying that this took away a great deal of what made life living for her and she would “take her own chances.”
My heart sank.
I would never have pegged this woman as mind-bendingly selfish. I would never have said that she was callous about other people, but that statement pulled me up short.
Up until then, I had in my mind the people who objected to the Covid-19 virus as callous, selfish and hostile to other people
I don’t think that was what was going on. I think what was going on was a misunderstanding of how disease works.
If you used the expression R0 to someone (pronounced “R-naught”) pre-Covid-19, you probably would have gotten a blank look. Many of us now know that the R0 factor is how many people will most likely catch a disease if you catch it. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the concept, it means that if you catch a particular disease, you can pretty much bet on a certain number of people also catching that disease. The R0 of ebola, for instance, is 1.5-1.9. If you get ebola, chances are good that you’ll pass it on to at least one person before you die, maybe two.
The R0 for Covid-19 is somewhere between 3.8 and 8.9. This is higher than smallpox, friends. Yes, it’s not quite the killer smallpox was, but that’s not the point.*
If you do not take appropriate precautions about Covid-19 (personal distancing, hand-washing, avoiding contact with people outside your direct household, and wearing masks when you do have to do so) you are not taking your OWN chances.
If you do not take precautions, you are taking risks for other people.
You know how your freedom to swing your fist ends at someone else’s nose?
Wear a mask in public, friends. That’s the OTHER person’s nose.
*For what it is worth, I am grateful down to my bones to everyone who got a smallpox vaccine. I can’t get one, but HURRAH! it’s a non-issue now, isn’t it?