Living in Fear of COVID-19?
I keep hearing that people are tired of COVID-19, are tired of the uncertainty and “don’t want to live in fear”. Well, I’m tired of COVID-19 too. I’m tired of not knowing who’s going to get sick next, tired of not knowing when I can go back to church, tired of not knowing when I can go to a restaurant again or get a babysitter for date night.
But I vehemently disagree with the notion that masking up or maintaining social distance is the same as “living in fear”. I disagree with the idea that brave people should go about their lives like it’s 2019. There is a difference between living in fear and taking precautions.
I’m afraid of being bitten by a rattlesnake. So I wear shoes, not sandals, when I go hiking in the washes. I’m afraid of being turned into a pincushion by a cactus. So I don’t lean up against them when I want to relax. I’m afraid of heat exhaustion during the Arizona summer. So I limit my time outside during the daytime hours. If I do have to be outside, I wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and carry a water bottle.
I’m aware of the dangers around me. But I don’t ignore them because I “don’t want to live in fear”. I take basic, sensible precautions and then get on with my life.
Life with COVID-19 is much the same. When I leave home, I bring my mask in addition to my sun hat. I wear it anytime that I’m indoors. And I stay 6 feet away from others, rather than crowding in close. That isn’t living in fear, that’s taking basic, sensible precautions.
The big difference with COVID-19 is that I can spread the disease several days before I’m showing any symptoms. And I can spread the disease even if I never show any symptoms. I’m not guaranteed to be healthy just because I don’t have a fever, don’t have the sniffles, and can breathe fine. As a result, my mask protects you from the risk that I’m sick and your sick protects me from the risk that you’re sick. It’s basic courtesy.
But the effects are counterintuitive. Imagine if I could get heat exhaustion because you’re not wearing a sun hat. I have my sun hat on, I’m drinking from my water bottle, I’m staying in the shade. But you’re standing out in the sun, hatless, and haven’t had a drink in 4 hours. And I get heat exhaustion. Weird, right? But that’s how COVID-19 works.
And that counter-intuitive reality is why none of us can get back to normal until all of us agree to take precautions. We’re not asking you to live in fear. We’re asking you to put on some shoes, put on a hat, and stop leaning up against the saguaro. Do it out of kindness for others, even if you’re not personally worried about getting sick.