Shaw: It's not 'hype,' it's life or death

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw

In the last two weeks, Forum columnists Mike Hulett and Ross Nelson have written columns about the coronavirus that are irresponsible, ignorant and reckless. They would be laughable, if they weren’t so dangerous. I rarely write columns in response to other columns, but this time I have no choice. It’s a matter of life and death.

Hulett foolishly argues that we are overreacting and should resume our regular lives. I suggest he tell that to the families of news producer Maria Mercader, Dr. James Goodrich, and 30-year-old teacher Ben Luderer, who all died from the coronavirus. The reality is, in the U.S. we have hundreds of thousands of cases of COVID-19, with thousands of deaths. Those numbers will dramatically rise, with no vaccine to stop the virus.


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Hospitals are overwhelmed and vital medical equipment is in short supply. We cannot live our regular lives in the midst of this deadly pandemic. A choir in Washington state had a regular practice last month. Two people died, and 28 others contracted the virus, according to CNN.
Nelson argues that we are "cowardly" in dealing with the pandemic. He shamefully says the media are hyping this and pushing fear, while it’s a liberal effort to “pound Donald Trump.”

“It’s not about hype, it’s not about going after Donald Trump,” a Fargo doctor told me. “It’s about people dying from a virus, where we can prevent it by avoiding contacts. It’s as serious as any other life threatening disease.”


“Pandemics are devastating,” another Fargo doctor told me. “We have been playing catch-up from the beginning. We have never caught up. To belittle this is to be part of the problem. A problem that will take people’s lives.”

Yes, this pandemic is very disruptive to our lives. It’s scary. We generally can’t leave our homes and spend time with the people closest to us. Businesses and schools have closed, while many have lost their jobs and income. However, there is no choice. The virus is passed through human transmission. The only choice is to avoid other humans, to prevent the transmission.

As Paul Carson, noted Yale epidemiologist wrote, “People will die that didn’t have to…You should perceive your entire family to function as a single unit. If one person puts themselves at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk.”

Carson goes on to say, “If your son visits his girlfriend, and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with…This virus is unforgiving to unwise choices.”

As the second Fargo doctor told me, “The virus needs to be contained, so it has no place to go. People who deny the reality are causing harm.”

Having a newspaper column is a real privilege. With that privilege comes responsibility. The responsible thing to do is emphasize the seriousness of this pandemic. Pushing a false narrative of COVID-19 is both dangerous and columnist malpractice.

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