EDITORIAL: As covid cases spike, let compassion reign

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The other day, we published a letter from a Connecticut woman lamenting about how she and her husband were deprived of the ultimate wedding anniversary experience at a Saratoga hotel because of restrictions imposed on the business by the coronavirus.

“We weren’t allowed to dance,” she said of one restriction, before ranting about how decision-making about covid should be by “personal choice,” not by “fear-mongering” or some government edict.

“I would like to decide for myself what is safe and what isn’t. If I want to enjoy dinner and dancing with my husband, that is a risk I am willing to take.”

It was probably one of the most insensitive, tone-deaf letters we’ve ever published.

But it reflects an attitude that many have about the pandemic.

Government is unnecessarily intruding in our lives.

It’s King Cuomo at his imperial worst (Or is it Emperor Cuomo? Let’s please settle on his title.)

It’s not really as bad as they say. They’re padding the numbers. People aren’t really dying of covid; they’re dying of whatever they were dying of before – old age or lung disease or Alzheimer’s.

And most people don’t get it that bad, they say. I know somebody who tested positive and didn’t even have symptoms.

It’s an attitude where personal choice is paramount. I’m going to do whatever I want, no matter what anybody says. If you’re afraid, stay the hell home. I want to dance.

For those who don’t believe covid is all that bad, do you really think it’s some vast overblown government conspiracy?

And if so, for what reason? To make us all miserable and lonely? To tank the economy? To deprive our children of a good education? To put us all on employment? To give underworked nurses and doctors something to do? To make Trump look bad?

Something is happening out there.

Nationwide and locally, the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths has been rising sharply for weeks.

Some local places, including Albany County, are breaking records for new cases every day and seeing the number of deaths rival the early days of the virus.

Nationwide as of Saturday, there were 14.2 million total reported cases and 278,000 deaths.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation has experienced 262.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 population.

The overall weekly hospitalization rate is at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic, with steep increases in adults aged 65 years and older.

Hospitals are already at or approaching capacity around the state and country. They weren’t before the pandemic.

Had you ever seen freezer trucks lined up parking lots to store dead bodies before this year? Had you ever even seen or heard of even one?

Whether you think people in nursing homes are dying from covid or dementia, they’re dying in greater numbers than years past. It’s hard to call that a coincidence.

Whether you believe any of this is real or not, and whether you’re willing to put yourself at risk or not, at the very least demonstrate some humanity and compassion for the people who are dealing with this crisis, who are afraid and who are at risk.

Have some compassion for those who might be among the people who actually get this disease and become very ill from it and perhaps die.

Think about what their families are going through. Think about families that have lost two or three or more family members due to this disease.

Think of the isolation and depression people are experiencing.

Think about the people who will experience the long-term effects of the disease that are still coming to light.

Have some compassion for the hospital and nursing home workers, the nurses and doctors and aides and administrative staff and interns and every other direct-care worker.

These people will consider themselves blessed if they don’t have to experience what they did in the early days of the crisis, overwhelmed by the workload and despair, going days or weeks without seeing their families, putting themselves directly in the path of the covid bullet.

Have some compassion for the government workers who are trying to make the right decisions for all of us.

There’s no guidebook for them to follow as to which steps to take, which industries to shut down or allow to remain open and at what hours.

There’s no magic balance they can strike between protecting businesses and protecting the people who work in them.

There’s no 100-percent reliable testing method and not enough tests to help these officials distinguish between the infected and the non-infected so they know exactly who to isolate.

Does anyone seriously think Gov. Cuomo sought this crisis out as some sort of power grab? That everything he’s doing is to crush the state budget and the state economy and our collective spirits?

Do you think he wanted to spoil Thanksgiving with his 10-person gathering edict? Do you think he wanted to deprive people of their religious freedoms by cracking down on large gatherings in churches, synagogues and mosques?

Or do you think he was just trying to encourage people to keep safe by staying separate?

If he’s on such a power trip, ask yourself this: Would you change jobs with him right now?

Would you change jobs with anyone who has to make tough decisions in this crisis – a government official or a health facility director or a business owner – decisions of which many people will be suspicious and defiant?

Question the decisions, for sure. But also understand where they’re coming from.

There’s no doubt about it. This covid crisis sucks. That’s about the only way to describe it. It sucks.

But for some people, many people actually, it’s more than an inconvenience. More than a delayed vacation. More than a spoiled anniversary.

It’s life and death.

Show compassion for others.

Do your part, even if you don’t totally buy into it all.

Wear your mask every time you’re in public.

Stay home and away from others when you can.

Limit your travel.

When this is over, we’ll all have a chance to celebrate.

We’ll all be able to go out and dance.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

3 Comments

After reading your Sunday (12/6) editorial, I see that the Gazette has now taken to publicly shaming individuals who submit letters with opinions that differ from those of the editorial staff. What’s next? Mockery of those with different views on abortion? Public spending or taxes? Climate change? Perhaps you even published the original letter with the intent of this follow up article to further stifle discussion.

Regardless of the topic, there was absolutely no reason to single the letter writer out. Your editorial could have expresssed your points starting 5 sentences in, but you had to do everything short of actually naming her. It’s a wonder you stopped there. Your behavior will make future letter writers think twice about sending in opinions that do not toe your party line.

I’d like to think you recognize the chilling effect it will have on freedom of discussion and the benefit of diverse points, however I’m afraid that never enters your mind. I should not be surprised given that you felt sheriffs’ statements about not enforcing Cuomo’s Thanksgiving restrictions were based on the “paltry excuse” of the US Constitution.

We are all poorer for not being able to discuss important issues of the day. The Gazette should be ashamed. Your behavior was an embarassment to the idea of freedom of speech.

Mark Mahoney

14.2 million Americans sick. 282,000 Americans dead. And this lady was indignant over not being able to dance in a hotel as cases are spiking, to the point where she felt compelled to write a letter to a paper outside her state to express her views. Please. At this point, people who believe this is a hoax or who object to reasonable restrictions designed to stop the spread of this virus deserve to be singled out for criticism because they’re dangerous. Mark Mahoney, Editorial Page Editor.

Expressing yourself in a public letter to the editor, by its nature, invites responses. Support for the Daily Gazette here. Facts don’t lie.

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