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Graf: We need a new approach to the virus

Graf: We need a new approach to the virus

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It is time to consider the full impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having upon our State.

When Gov. Northam first enacted the lockdown, I applauded his efforts. I believe that he acted in good faith and that he listened to sound epidemiological advice. At first the situation was grim. PPE was in short supply. Virus testing was not available. Fears of a virus spike led to the goal of flattening the curve to preserve precious hospital beds. He led us well.

However, the situation has changed. Our country has quickly reacted to the crisis by producing PPE, developing reliable tests, and flattening the curve. Businesses have adopted new ways to reach their customers such as home delivery and curbside pickup. Indeed, Americans have for the most part adopted the protection protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Because he cannot predict the future our governor could not have anticipated the financial cost of fighting this pandemic. Unemployment has skyrocketed causing many workers to lose hope of finding new jobs. Renters have not been able to keep up with their payments. Landlords cannot pay their mortgages. Small businesses have gone bankrupt. The travel industry has been shattered.

Extraordinary social costs have arisen. For example, the Virginia ABC stores have reported record sales that have resulted in higher instances of alcoholism. Families are in crisis. Spousal and child abuse is on the rise. More people are depressed. Many have lost hope. It is no wonder that “pandemic fatigue” is rising among us.

Lockdowns have had a temporary effect in stemming the virus’s spread. However, the disease remains stubbornly resilient, and over the long term shutting down an economy and forcing social isolation have not worked as well as was first hoped. Vaccines are not a silver bullet. For example, the CDC compiled statistics for the last ten years of the efficacy of the flu vaccine. It has a 19% to 60% success rate. Perhaps, the Covid-19 vaccine will fare better, but the odds are it will most likely fall in the same range as the flu vaccine.. Search online for this headline “Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread” to learn the facts. It appeared in many publications. Finally, lockdowns cause the other social problems spoken to above.

The focus on the number of new Covid-19 cases may be the wrong metric to emphasize. According to an article written by Canadian Conrad Black, which appeared in the National Post October 23, 2020, “The basic facts are that the coronavirus is not fatal to 99.997 per cent of people under the age of 65, and not fatal to 94.6 percent of people above the age of 65.” Of course, one Covid-19 death is one too many, especially for those who have lost a loved one. However, should we not consider the greater good as well?

It is important that we offer a measure of grace and understanding to one another. Kindness is key. There will be individuals all over the spectrum regarding how they wish to protect their own health and the health of others. Remember to be tolerant and considerate.

Treat us like adults. Allow each person to determine his or her own risk assessment of contracting the virus; for example, to venture out or not, or to wear a mask or not, or to socially distance or not. Permit businesses to do the same. Do they wish to serve their customers by enforcing mask wearing and social distancing for their clientele and employees alike or not? Or should they take the risk and abandon any or all prevention strategies, and thereby invite the danger of driving away customers? These choices should be ours to make.

I urge the governor to stop threatening and to begin to consider the wider ramifications his well-intended policies have caused. Given the stubbornness of this disease, it is time to realize that our current strategy to fight the pandemic is a failure. Right the ship by changing course.

Graf is currently retired and living in Blacksburg. Prior to his retirement, he was a lecturer at the Christian Leaders’ Training College in Papua New Guinea.

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