Series of Unfortunate Decisions

Opinion · ESTIMATE 2-MINUTE READ

Homelessness

The current U.S. recession is the worst it has been in recorded history. Of nearly 200,000 restaurant closures on the Yelp platform since March of last year, 61% will be permanent. The effects of massive unemploy­ment and business shut­downs is visible as you drive through your own neighborhood.

A tent city is expanding near the 405 freeway off ramp to the Los Angeles Airport. Two miles away, an unmasked man is napping on a bus bench, in spite of the metal armrests spaced two feet apart that hinder sleeping. Twenty minutes later, he was awake, sitting on the curb and wearing a face mask.

Tent city

The displacement of people due to the pandemic is heart wrenching. What strikes me most about this scene is that even homeless persons can recognize the need for a face covering. Scavenging food from trash cans, you might expect that they would not care about disease. Some don’t. But the resolve to live should be a lesson for those with means to wear masks. It is health care at its most basic level.

Tough Choices

Nearly every major decision during the pandemic is not simply a matter or right or wrong. It is a choice between multiple mediocre decisions and adverse consequences. Any action upsets someone.

  • Properly wearing masks minimizes disease transmission but is uncomfortable.
  • Staying at home saves lives but disrupts the economy.
  • In-person schooling is more effective than remote learning but risks health.
  • A moratorium on evictions results in accumulated back-rent payments.
  • Opening restaurants saves jobs but risks virus transmission.
  • Repurposing hospitals to handle COVID-19 patients results in backlog of elective medical procedures.

The list goes on. Many decisions pit medical recom­menda­tions against political ones like pre-fight hype for a battle between two undefeated champions.

With everyone shouting opposing options and criticizing every decision, can people accept the general choices of a designated decision maker? Of course, these tough calls should elevate human safety with compas­sion. The popula­tion might then make decisions within those guidelines for individual family circumstances.

Opposing leadership has the unfavora­able consea­quence of anarchy. And protests increase oppor­tunities for corona­virus exposure, resulting in more surges.

Protest

Wear Face Masks

Why is this still a question? How come enforce­ment leads to uprisings? Like it or not, wearing face masks is becoming the new normal around the world. Even if you do not wear the best one, it reduces the trans­mission of airborne virus from asympa­to­matic persons. If you are expecting states to elimi­nate the mask require­ment after the third surge of COVID-19 cases, think again. What may change is the advice to add more protec­tion, like a face shield.

Rather than specifying when and where to wear face masks, simplify­ing the rule to have everyone wear a mask in public is likely. What happens if you do not comply will depend upon local laws and whether you test positive for the coronavirus.

Get Masks Today

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate, local editor, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD (WebMD), and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz. He was a 15-year Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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