In light of the growing discontent with coronavirus lockdowns across the country, and the insistence by many that America has to get back to work and “back to normal,” I have a few questions I would like to ask of those who feel this way. They are meant for anyone who finds themselves in or leaning towards, the “open it back up” camp — not just those who have actively protested stay-at-home orders, but also those who are merely becoming increasingly frustrated by them.
Or, I should say they are meant for most people in that camp.
Honestly, I am only asking these questions of people whose opposition to lockdowns is rooted in genuine concern for the economic costs of continued quarantining, but who nonetheless acknowledge the seriousness of the COVID crisis.
I am not asking for input from people who think the entire thing is a hoax.
I am not interested in the meanderings of people who think Bill Gates and the “Deep State” are concocting the whole thing so they can force vaccinations on everyone and de-populate the planet.
I don’t care what QAnon lunatics think, nor do I care about the insights of people who carry rocket launchers to demonstrations just to show they can.
As for the rest of you, though — those who are rational, reasonable people who know COVID is a problem, especially for persons with certain pre-existing conditions — please read on. You can think of these questions as rhetorical, requiring no direct reply if you’d prefer. Just think about them as you fashion your position and advocate for your preferred path forward. Alternately, if you would like to take a stab at answering them, feel free to do that in the comments.
- If businesses are opened back up, should customers, patrons, and employees be required to follow social distancing and safety guidelines for at least the next few months? Or should decisions about masking, spatial distancing, seating and/or standing capacity be made by each individual and/or business owner as they see fit?
- If masking and distancing are left up to individuals and business owners, how do we deal with situations where some patrons go to a bar or restaurant, or customers go to a store, or employees go to their workplace and are trying to be careful about contact with others, sanitizing, keeping distance, etc., but others are “exercising their freedom” not to mask, sanitize, or worry about such things? Is the burden on the concerned individuals to leave, or quit their jobs, in deference to the “freedoms” of the unconcerned? If so, isn’t this tantamount to saying that the rights of people who are cavalier about public health and endangering others should outweigh the rights of others not to be endangered?
- If an employer decides they don’t want employees to wear masks, what should employees with health conditions placing them in a high-risk group do? Should the employer be allowed to fire such employees if they refuse to come to work unmasked (even though they usually would not be able to do so because of health conditions such as these?)
- If you advocate opening things back up, what should the 45 percent of Americans who fall into high-risk health categories do about their jobs if they still have them? Or older Americans who, despite age, are still in the workforce? Should they be allowed to choose to remain sheltered in place and still be able to keep their jobs, even if their boss wants them back at work? If not, doesn’t that mean that even people in high-risk groups should be forced to go back to work and risk their lives (since doing otherwise would mean the loss of their employment)?
- If you do think they should be able to retain employment (i.e., not be fired for staying at home), should they receive paid leave during the time they are at home? Or, if not paid leave, should they be eligible to receive continued unemployment benefits or other government assistance to make it through the crisis?
- If you answer no to these questions, aren’t you saying that rather than people being allowed the choice to gamble with their lives, sick people who are at significant risk from Covid-19 should essentially be forced to do so, or else risk financial ruin?
- What should otherwise healthy people do if they have an immuno-compromised child, spouse, partner, or other family members at home? Or a family member with another serious health condition that would place them at high risk should they contract the virus? Should they be allowed to remain at home, as with the above question, and receive unemployment benefits or other government assistance, even though they are technically able to go to work and not at risk themselves? If you say no — that they should not be able to stay home and collect such benefits if there is a job available — what should they do with their children or family member until the crisis passes? Send them to live with relatives? Put them in a plastic bubble of some sort? Or not interact with them for the next 5 or 6 months?
- If deaths from this virus were disproportionately occurring among younger, otherwise healthy, middle-to-upper-middle-class, and white Americans, would you still be as cavalier about opening everything back up and taking the risks associated with doing so?
- If you answered no, aren’t you admitting you think the lives of those who are currently disproportionately affected — working-class, older, less healthy, and people of color — are of less value than the lives of younger, healthier, and more affluent white people?
- And if you answered yes to question 8 — if you are saying you would still support opening everything back up, even if the dying was mostly being done by white, healthy, younger and more affluent folks — I have a bonus question for you…
- Why are you lying?