Selfishness/Stupidity and Covid-19

Here in Utah, the majority of people are effectively refusing to social distance and to wear masks. National Parks are heavily visited, if not with the huge crowds of last year, and people visiting them aren’t really social distancing or wearing masks. I suspect that this pattern is true in many other states as well. Our governor has mandated masks for anyone in government buildings, for employees of any business serving the public, for anyone in all healthcare facilities, and for all students, teachers, and educational employees.

At first glance that sounds fairly restrictive, except that it means that patrons of restaurants and businesses don’t have to wear masks, nor does anyone in public spaces. And while major chain stores are now requiring masks, most have quietly indicated that they won’t risk employee lives to enforce that requirement. The result is that less than ten percent of the population here is wearing a mask, except when absolutely required to do so.

Unless people change, and they’re showing no sign of doing so, or unless government cracks down, and it shows no sign of doing so, Covid-19 cases and fatalities are going to continue to climb.

Even as case numbers are rising, because of economic and social pressure, the state plans to open all schools and universities in September, and the local university is touting that it will have football and basketball as well.

Early studies indicate that while young children [under 8] have a very low risk of contracting Covid-19, they can still be carriers. Older students, particularly teenagers and young adults, have a much higher chance of contracting it and carrying it, especially asymptomatically, and with high numbers of cases in the state, there’s no way that some students won’t carry it into the classroom.

This problem could be handled… if caseloads were low and declining, but they’re not.

What tends to be overlooked in this back-to-school rush is that, first, teachers have families, and those families include vulnerable individuals. Second, a significant number of teachers, particularly university faculty, fall into the “grandparent” category. Third, studies show that teenagers and young adults are among the worse at hygiene and social distancing, particularly over time. Fourth, schools and universities draw students from such a variety of backgrounds that those students are bound to include those carrying Covid-19 asymptomatically or otherwise. Fifth, so far at least, there are absolutely no screening processes for students in place. Sixth, disinfecting and maintaining hygienic conditions is expensive, and thus far on the university level, class-to-class disinfecting is yet another burden being placed on faculty.

Under these circumstances, at least here in Utah, I can see Covid-19 taking out, either temporarily or permanently, a significant number of teachers. And everyone is ignoring this almost inevitable result, except for teachers, who are extremely worried, worried enough that some are retiring or resigning.

And, unless matters change, because too many people are self-centered, and won’t take precautions, teachers, once again, in yet another way, are the ones who will pay for that combination of stupidity and selfishness.

7 thoughts on “Selfishness/Stupidity and Covid-19”

  1. M. Kilian says:

    Even here in Australia where we’re leaps and bounds ahead on flattening our curve, there are almost artificial movements to galvanise people against government restrictions for public safety, whether for personal liberty or the liberty of asylum seekers.

    Each time it seems like we’re getting on top of the pandemic, people who’re repatriating due to the relative safety here feel entitled to undermine that very safety by refusing to obey quarantine measures, while a lot of people have returned to acting like everything is normal when it’s not.

    Top that up with the fact that the horror of Italy’s March surge only held a short impression on the people here, and they are continuously failing to take matters seriously and observe the basic measures to keep us all safe.

    1. Sam says:

      One thing I’ve never liked about the Australian governments’suppression agenda and the message it sends is that it’s OK if some people get COVID-19 and OK if some people die from it.

      To quote Men in Black “a person is smart, people are stupid.” The general populace as a whole aren’t very good at handling nuanced messaging. Nuance ends up being translated into ambiguity and contradiction. So people start relaxing and breaking rules because they don’t see the point of them.

  2. Alan says:

    I think it is worth noting that every one keeps pointing to climbing Covid cases as if this were not going to happen if everyone wore a mask, or that the number of cases would be drastically reduced. The rate of new cases would be reduced, but eventually the case numbers will reach the same level.

    The simple numbers of it, 330M people, 3M documented infected (1% of the population), means that the number of case is going to rise. The number of dead will continue to rise as well, even with a flattened curve. It will always rise until there is herd immunity established or a passable vaccine.

    1. Tom says:

      If we all wear masks then there will be a slower increase in cases; there will be time to find a treatment and a vaccine, so the number of deaths will be less at the end of the pandemic.

      1. Alan says:

        There’s a great big assumption there that a vaccine which will be effective can be created and administered in a timely fashion that precludes achieving herd immunity or population case saturation. There have been companies pouring money into research for months, there’s a dozen possible vaccines but there’s no end in sight at the moment. And I did conclude with herd immunity or a vaccine.

        I didn’t deny that case loads would be slower in coming and that the deaths could be lower and slower in happening. Just that people tend to turn a blind eye to the fact that cases will continue to rise. Rising case numbers is not an indicator of problems. Rate of cases per 100k pop over time would be a measurement that could indicate a problem.

        Just as death totals are a poor example of problems. But deaths, and death rates per 100k population are a far better measurement tool. Just because the use has 3m confirmed cases and 150k deaths, doesn’t mean the US is in the garbage can because the comparison being used is a country with a population of 30m which had 30k deaths. As with all statistics you have to compare apples to apples and you need to do so in a fashion that best takes into account the correct factors.

        Cherry picking stats and data, as well as source materials, is a big part of the problem with the media and other sources that discuss the Covid-19 problem.

        1. Tom says:

          There are two paths to herd immunity for COVID-19 — vaccines and infection. I agree with your comment on vaccines for Covid 19.

          It isn’t yet clear if infection with the COVID-19 virus makes a person immune to future infection. Research suggests that after infection with some coronaviruses, reinfection with the same virus — though usually mild and only happening in a fraction of people — is possible after a period of months or years. Even if infection with the COVID-19 virus creates long-lasting immunity, a large number of people would have to become infected to reach the herd immunity threshold. Experts estimate that in the U.S., 70% of the population — more than 200 million people — would have to recover from COVID-19 to halt the epidemic. If many people become sick with COVID-19 at once, the health care system could quickly become overwhelmed.

          It seems your belief in herd immunity has the same long term outcome as my belief in decreasing the rate of Covid spread – the difference is in the short term effect on society.

  3. Tim says:

    @Alan. Here in the UK we were told that the issue is one of containing the spread because, as you state, a large proportion of the population will eventually get it in some form unless a vaccine becomes available which is not going to happen any time soon apparently.

    So the containment is to permit hospitals to cope with numbers so that they can also deal with the backlog of delayed treatment caused by the virus. Such as cancer.

    One MP made a good statement : it is discourteous not to wear a mask in an enclosed public area.

    Of cours, as of tomorrow it is also an offence.

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