We’ve moved into a new phase of Covid-19 in America, the selfish phase. It disgusts me.
The image above is from a holiday party at a fancy business club in Texas. Everyone gets to make their own choice, see? Some folks say "no contact", some folks say "bring it on". Everyone gets to do what they think is best for themselves, what’s the problem?
We finally have Covid-19 vaccines. The primary discussion is whether people will choose to take them. Surely it should be everyone’s own personal decision? Some 40% of Americans think it might be OK for them to personally decide not to vaccinate themselves, as if their decision only affected them.
That is not how public health works.
The only way to control a highly contagious disease is to quarantine to slow the spread, then vaccinate so that a large majority of your population has immunity. Only then does the disease die down. The quarantine period is difficult and requires personal sacrifice for the common good. Americans refuse to do it. It’s against our very national nature, what we think of as the virtue of individualism. The flipside of that is selfishness.
I’m in a Facebook argument because someone in Nevada County thinks it’s "hateful" for me to answer a request about "which nail salons are open" with the comment that they all should be closed. The discussion instead is about how awful it is we can’t get our nails done, and it’s our choice anyway, and won’t everyone think of the poor nail salon workers who need jobs? Meanwhile our hospitals are at 100% capcity statewide and in the middle of the biggest outbreak of Covid-19 yet. But folks gotta get their nails done.
The sheer selfishness of it is revolting. Look also to our California political leaders going to big indoor dinner parties at lavish restaurants in defiance of social distancing rules. Or how it’s apparently everyone’s personal choice whether to wear a mask, ignoring the risk they put other people in. Or the millions of people travelling for Christmas. That same selfishness at Thanksgiving led to a major case growth; now that’s just going to be doubled.
I grappled with this question back in July and concluded the main reason I was being so careful about Covid isolation was to keep other people safe. That was about a month before the Sturgis motorcycle rally led to a major surge in the virus all over the middle of the country. I sure feel like a sucker now, I’m not sure why I’ve bothered.
America is a nation of selfish people. And it’s literally killing us. 330,000 and counting.