When I was contemplating jotting down notes for a column, many jumbled thoughts went through my head.
One was that I didn’t have an idea to write about; another was that there were so many unconnected ideas and how could I pull any together. During this process I kept being reminded of something I’ve yet to understand regarding the many aspects of the COVID-19 situation we are all dealing with these days. I guess I was focusing on words, which I often do, and how powerful they can be especially during difficult times.
Two words seem to be provoking significant emotional response and it has always baffled me. I’ve yet to figure out why tests and masks are evoking such strong and wide-ranging reactions – up to and including violence. I’ve been flummoxed by this for some time.
I realize we, including the doctors and scientists, are facing a new virus. We’re in unchartered territory and are looking for answers five minutes ago. No one is comfortable with the unknowns. So, lots of things that wouldn’t crop up in a “normal” situation are amplified and distorted now.
Tests. I’ve heard people say if we didn’t test we wouldn’t have a problem. I’ve been a bit glib when I’ve heard people say that, as it never occurred to me that anyone would blame testing for the situation we’re in. The President of the United States says that we wouldn’t have these numbers of positive cases if we didn’t test, and he even boasted at a rally that he wanted to slow down testing. It got me wondering if there was something about testing that I was missing.
I’ve had a variety of tests, as I’m sure is the case for most people. I’ve had an MRI to detect a rotator cuff tear; blood tests to determine a variety of issues, including the possibility of cancer. I always thought tests were to rule in or out a situation for further treatment, if warranted.
If 100 people were in a room and tested for whatever and 50 tested positive, then we know which ones need further tests/treatment. If the same 100 people weren’t tested for anything, the same 50 will still have whatever, the only difference is in one situation we know, the other we don’t. It’s just data to give an opportunity for treatment. Why the anger and disdain for tests?
Masks. This one really is a puzzler. Maybe it’s because there are so many unknowns scientists and doctors are working round the clock to ascertain. The rest of us feel helpless and trapped while the science works to figure this out. The virulence has been established. Containment and vaccines are still being determined.
I know if I wear a mask it isn’t for me; it’s for someone next to me. Why would I balk at that in a store or the DMV? I’ve heard of people getting into fights and pulling guns for being asked to look out for their neighbor. Have we become that selfish and impatient for such out-of-proportion responses?
Different times. Guess I better continue pulling column ideas together.