By Tia Will
Let’s imagine California has been invaded by a terrorist force, either foreign or domestic. This force has within the past 8 months killed 53 of our Yolo County residents and is known to have injured or affected another 2,957 of us with 32 new people affected in the last 24 hours.
Let’s suppose we know this force likes to attack people in large groups, especially indoors in close proximity. Our law enforcement, in order to better protect us, has issued stay at home orders and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. There are similar findings and orders in surrounding counties and our Governor has issued emergency orders for any similarly affected counties.
So explain to me why we are seeing denial of the fact that this is exactly what has happened only with an invisible enemy, COVID-19. You may wonder why I am writing this now since COVID-19 has been with us since January. This article from the Sacramento Bee prompted me to write.
Please note the difference of perspective of the now resigned health officer and the statement of the county administrator. Both believe they are acting in the best interest of their constituents. The administrator believes she has the “bigger picture in mind”. The health officer apparently believes the broader picture of economic health, mental health, and overall societal health cannot be achieved without controlling the current pandemic. While the administrator encourages people to follow the guidelines, she states they will not be enforced. This is similar to the position the UCD campus and Yolo County have taken.
But is this position of education rather than enforcement an effective strategy? I think we already know the answer. Back in April and May, Yolo County, by enacting strict shelter in place recommendations, had almost completely contained our viral outbreak. Unfortunately, some segments of our community decided to declare victory, not understanding that the strict order was the reason for success. They pushed for re-opening too soon with the resultant resurgence of cases and prolongation of the need for social isolation. A discouraged and confused populace pushed back hard by not following even the less stringent recommendations for masking and social distancing. We have the ability to enforce, but our local and country authorities have not chosen to do so.
I would argue that our elected officials should take this pandemic which has already killed 190,000 Americans, as seriously as we would take an invading human enemy who had killed the same number. We need a consistent message, consistent rules, consistent application and enforcement of those rules just as we would in a conventional battle situation.
For those who claim they prioritize getting back our “normal lives”, I would say this is our new normal life. There is no benefit to pretending this danger is not present in our communities.
The novel coronavirus is an ongoing aspect of the reality of our current lives. The sooner we stop pretending it is not, the sooner we will be able to relax our behaviors. There is no way to back out of this. The only path is to accept, adapt and move forward.