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Basic precautions aren’t too much to ask

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The petulant and irresponsible breakdown of discipline protecting ourselves from the coronavirus has riled me up, but a health care professional named Joshua Ross recently posted the following on the Facebook page of Richard Ellis of Spring Hope.

He says what I want to say with more eloquence and authority than I can. Listen to what he has to say, please, lightly edited for space:

“OK, so, here’s some venting and some explaining and if you don’t like it, I honestly don’t care. This has easily been the longest two months of my career, and, for that matter, my life. COVID-19 has changed everything. The way we live, the way our kids learn, the way we work. It has trashed the economy, exploded unemployment and harmed businesses, many of them, sadly, beyond repair. But here’s the deal: it’s real and it’s here and it’s still spreading.

“As a health care worker, I’m exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally. As a manager in the health care industry, it’s been one of the longest, most stressful things I’ve tackled.

“First off, the truthers and the conspiracy people and the protesters, you’re not helping. The people bitching constantly about the governor’s or whatever level of government’s handling of things, it’s not constructive. 

“Do you want to know why medical people — real medical people, not some crackpot quacks and kooks with a YouTube account or Facebook page — are taking this seriously? Because it’s serious. And we’re serious people when it comes to people’s health and their lives. Yes, it mostly kills at-risk populations (the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions) but it also kills perfectly healthy people with no prior diagnoses and we don’t know why. I’m so tired of people acting like there’s information that’s being cooked up or withheld. You know why there’s lots of gaps in the information? Because we’re still learning about this virus every day. It’s new. It’s never been seen. How it acts, how it spreads, why it does the things it does, is all new and we’re learning on the fly. Stop mistaking genuine lack of information for misinformation or withheld information.

“The numbers: this one sticks in my craw like no other. ‘I heard they didn’t die from COVID-19, they died from a heart attack but they were positive so they called it COVID-19 to boost the numbers and scare people.’ Stop. It. You know how many people died specifically from AIDS? Zero. AIDS patients die from pneumonia or some other illness normal, healthy people fight off because the AIDS virus destroyed their immune system and they couldn’t fight off the infection. But at the heart of it, they died because of AIDS. The coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. The respiratory system is, in case you didn’t know, pretty important to sustaining life. It also has a huge impact on how other organ systems, like the heart, work. Guess what? When your lungs don’t work because they’ve basically filled with brick mortar because the virus is attacking them, that puts a bit of a strain on your ticker and very well can cause it to fail. So unless you have a basic understanding of how the body fundamentally functions: stop. 

“I think I can speak for a lot of medical professionals when I say: We don’t mean to be arrogant, we don’t mean to be jerks, but damn it, this bulls--- is frustrating and yes, we’re going to clap back to ignorance. Ignorance is not something to be flaunted and there is a difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is being uninformed. Stop being willfully ignorant and even reveling in it because it doesn’t fit your preconceived narrative or opinion. Even worse, stop pretending you’re not ignorant because you watched some YouTube video or read some op-ed piece. That’s someone’s opinion, normally based on nothing. Nothing! That’s not based in science. It’s clickbait with the sole intention of riling you up and getting you to let your guard down. And instead of being pissed at the virus that’s causing all this, it’s to direct your anger at the government or doctors or anywhere else their agenda wants it directed.

“Medical people are fired up for a couple reasons. One month ago, we were all heroes and putting our lives on the line because this was dangerous stuff. Well, I think I can speak for most of us when I say we aren’t heroic, we’re just doing our job. But guess what? We’re still doing the same damn thing we were doing a month ago and this crap still hasn’t gone away, but now we’re ‘just trying to scare people’ because ‘it’s really no big deal.’ We aren’t looking for a pat on the back or even a thank-you, we just want you to do what we all need to do to stop this thing and avoid the spread. This virus is very dangerous.

“Lastly, stop being spoiled children about public health advisories. Stop bitching about wearing a mask when you’re in public places. Stop pretending that that is somehow infringing on your rights. Get over yourself. I wish all businesses would grow a pair and refuse service to people who refuse to wear a mask ‘out of principle.’ Police aren’t inclined to enforce it and that’s fine but, spoiler alert, private businesses (can) reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Don’t tell me it’s OK for a bakery to refuse service to a gay couple for a wedding cake on religious grounds but not OK for a convenience store to refuse service because they don’t want the outbreak monkey strolling through their place coughing all over other patrons and their staff.

“Stay outside the 6-foot bubble, wear a damn mask and wash your hands. It’s that easy. Stop pretending they’re asking for a kidney. It’s as much to protect yourself as it is everyone else. People wonder why we have things like stay-at-home orders and closing of nonessential businesses. It’s because of you, jackass, you’re the problem. It’s your lack of ability to exercise common sense and your refusal to follow insanely simple advice that forces the government to exercise it for you. And even then, you still thumb your nose at it in all your ignorant glory. Sorry that you feel like they’re infringing on your right to be an irresponsible child. 

“Look, all I’m saying is I get that it’s frustrating and I get that it’s irritating, inconvenient and all the other bad things that it is, but please, continue to take this seriously, and continue to do the little things that make a big difference. Stop denying facts, science and the advice from people who have spent a lifetime doing what they do in the medical and research fields to ultimately make everyone’s lives healthier, safer and better.

“I’m done with my soapbox now.”

Ken Ripley, a Spring Hope resident, is The Enterprise’s editor and publisher emeritus.