The recent spike in Covid-19 cases has shown one thing: Ordering well people into quarantine is a failed epidemiological strategy. As a way to contain this pandemic, even 51 days of universal isolation does not work. Nor is it based on good science. Instead, it has become a tool for the dictatorial control of our lives.
It is humorous, really. It took a small virus to trash what we fought for in the Revolutionary War and secured by our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We now have a dictatorship of misguided governors and scientists. We now no longer have the right to assemble. We now have allowed these governors to shut us out of restaurants by forcing restaurants to close their doors to the public for sit-down eating, putting their owners at risk of bankruptcy and their employees at risk of unemployment. We now have governors who can tell us not to assemble for Thanksgiving dinners and not to exercise in gyms, putting our mental health at risk by prohibiting socializing and our physical health at risk due to lack of exercise, snowballing into putting the gym owners at risk of bankruptcy and their employees at risk of job loss.
Governors are exercising the unprecedented strategy of virus containment by putting well people into quarantine—yet allowing persons sick with COVID-19 into “essential” businesses. Whatever “essential” means, it does not mean essential for the prevention of the spread of disease from sick to well persons. Studies have shown that grocery stores are a primary site for that transmission. Labor union leaders in fact want hazard pay for grocery workers because they are repeatedly exposed to contact with customers, customers who have COVID-19.
To stop the spread of a contagious disease, effective epidemiology mitigates transmission by only one way--putting the sick in quarantine. You do not prohibit those with the disease from having contact with the public at certain locations, but allow them to have public contact at other locations, that is, “essential” businesses. Viruses can not read and do not know what “essential” means—they infect by contact anywhere. The solution is to go back to quarantining the sick. And if you want to avoid exposure at a public gathering, don’t go.
But where is the public? Obediently bowing to this failed epidemiology concept, cowering behind mandated closed doors. As T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Hollow Men”: “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”
Horsley lives in Fargo.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.