Good riddance to 2020.

I know I am far from alone in that sentiment. This year simply was rotten in oh so many ways that I don’t even know where to begin.

We’re pretty much all ready for a fresh start in 2021. It’s a real downer, though, that the first few months of 2021 look to be a continuation of the old year.

The pandemic is not going away anytime soon. The vaccine is giving us a light at the end of the tunnel, yet we remain well inside the tunnel. We still are facing the same leftover choices. For one, we can ignore the virus and go about our lives as usual. To do this, though, puts ourselves and others at risk.

Or we can bite the bullet and continue to observe restrictions. We can cut out activities that include gathering in large groups, which often deprives us of being with ones we love. We can practice social distancing, which can be difficult when others chose not to do so.

And we can keep on wearing those annoying masks. As my regular readers know I absolutely detest wearing masks. In the summer they were hot and stuffy, and in the cold they make my glasses fog up to the point I cannot see what I am doing. They muffle our voices, making it hard to understand others and to be understood.

By wearing masks, though, we are saving lives – and that makes for one whale of a tradeoff. The science is clear on that. The masks keep droplets from your mouth and nose from spreading as far and infecting others, and to benefit the wearer they do help filter out the droplets emitted by others around us. The virus in those droplets from people infected with COVID-19, especially those who are showing no symptoms, is exactly how the disease spreads.

If you find those pandemic restrictions difficult to observe, think of them as New Year’s resolutions. Even if you don’t care about the risk to yourself, as least be considerate enough to believe the science and do it for others.

Unfortunately I hear many comments disparaging those very precautions, and downplaying the virus. The other day when I mentioned families that have lost several loved ones to the virus, someone told me that traffic accidents do the same thing.

That is indeed true – and that’s why we have traffic laws like stop signs and lights and speed limits, as well as safety features in cars like airbags and side sensors, all to minimize deaths and injuries. Social distancing, quarantines, masks and the vaccines indeed serve a similar purpose.

Another argument is that more people die of other diseases than of COVID-19. Again, that is so true – but the 335,000-plus pandemic deaths are mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, daughters and friends who would otherwise still be alive.

I was struck by a study that showed the potentially devastating effects of the absurd idea of allowing for natural herd immunity, advanced by people who should know better. This theory proposed that allowing the virus to spread uncontrolled was the way to go, so we would limit the effect on the economy. This study estimated that more than 3 million Americans would die if we followed that course.

So just how much is a life worth? That’s what this idea, a cruel one in my mind, really comes down to. Because too many people with responsibility held onto that deadly herd immunity theory, most likely at least half a million Americans will die of COVID-19. We need to learn from this sad scheme, shove that idea right where it belongs, and accept reality.

Believe me, I know it isn’t easy. Economic costs of the pandemic are enormous. My own small business operated at a loss for 2020 as a direct result of the virus. My hopes and dreams for the year were plowed under. The first few months of 2021 don’t look any better.

But the inconvenience will eventually end. The economy, including my business, will recover. But if you or someone you love contracts the virus and dies because people ignored the precautions, there is no recovery. That, my friends, is as final as you can get.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.

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