Image, courtesy of CDC
I am sick of hearing about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Not because I’m afraid of it or because it’s getting old (though it certainly is), but because it makes me lose faith in humanity. Hearing about the dumb things that people are doing even in the midst of this pandemic makes me question how humans are considered the pinnacle of evolution.
Yesterday afternoon, CNN reported that one man in Nelson County, Kentucky tested positive for COVID-19 and had proceeded to check himself out of the hospital and refused to quarantine himself. Because of this idiocy, the Sheriff’s department was forced to intervene and enforce a quarantine by surrounding his house. On the Nashville Confessions Facebook page, one submission read “I’m a senior at Vanderbilt… I went to Italy… I’m not self-reporting.” Beyond people like this who refused to self-report, there were also others who tested positive and then proceeded to remain anonymous. Now, call me crazy, but anonymous people with a potentially deadly or at least very serious illness could come into contact with countless people without their knowledge and this seems to be a problem.
While the government and the CDC haven’t exactly handled this situation well, they are not entirely to blame. It is people like the ones mentioned above who are the problem. They cling to the idea of freedom: freedom to move about and remain anonymous, regardless of the consequences on others. I do not have much knowledge of East Asian governments, but I can say that they certainly did a better job of confining people and part of that is due to the fact that their people are not so hung up on freedom. This is not to say that the people in these countries are not free, but that much more focus is placed on the whole people rather than the individual by both the culture and the government in these countries.
This is where we must ask ourselves as a people, “how far is too far?” We value freedom; it is one of the founding principles of our country, but where do we draw the line between individual freedom and respecting the well-being of the society as a whole? Sure, celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus are speaking up about the importance of quarantining for the safety of the public, but when we, as a society, reach a point where we need pop culture to lay out our morals for us, something is wrong. It should be common sense to be considerate of the health of the elderly and the immunocompromised. While freedom is a basic right, staying home and not spreading illness is just common courtesy and should honestly be an obligation for the greater good.
I know it is not this simple. I know that it is hard for people to stay home when they need to work jobs. Most people are not fortunate enough to be able to go without work for the amount of time it might take for this pandemic to subside. It is next to impossible to ask the healthy people to stay home without causing an economic crisis. And that is a big issue to be discussed at a later date. All that needs to be done now is for people to step up. For those who test positive to isolate themselves. For those who have been exposed to the virus to come forward and say so instead of remaining anonymous. It is a moral responsibility to keep others safe. And it is time that the citizens of the United States remembered that and began prioritizing other’s well-being over their own freedom.