There are those among us who don’t believe that. Or are choosing not to believe that. Their worldview is impressively consistent when it comes to scientific data that may be bad for business; they choose to believe that the findings are flawed—If global warming is real, why is it snowing, huh?—and that the product of what must be nefarious anti-capitalist interests needs to be ignored. Up is down, facts are opinions, and COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
No one is changing those minds. No one is even trying anymore, really. That stopped a long time ago when it became painfully clear that it was futile, not because these are dumb or evil people—they absolutely are not. These are our close friends and relatives and colleagues. Rather, the anti-science propaganda is too woven into their worldviews at this point. (Harvard infectious disease doctors work for the Deep State and don’t know shit. Dan Dakich tells it like it is!)
The problem is that distrust of scientific data endangers everyone. It’s already endangered everyone. Ignoring the coronavirus, for example, doesn’t make it go away—this isn’t a playground bully in the second grade. Science is telling us that ignoring the coronavirus causes it to spread more rapidly. And the more rapidly this thing spreads, the further away we get from Normal.
Where it all ends up, exactly, nobody knows. How far we stray from our old Normal and for how long is anyone’s guess.
What if our new Normal is massive, citywide quarantines? Who cares about no NBA games when you’re holed up for a month rationing food? What if our new Normal is a crippled healthcare system? Nobody will much care that fans can’t see a first-round Gonzaga/Winthrop game in person when the closest available hospital room is in Bogotá.
And what if our new Normal is a 4 or 5 or 6 percent mortality rate with this virus? Cancelling spring break won’t seem so drastic when people are dropping over dead in their homes because they can’t drop dead in hospitals that are at capacity.
Perhaps that’s all overly dramatic. Perhaps I’m being an alarmist. Maybe we’ll look back at all this in two months and scoff at how needlessly worried some of us were. Maybe this has all been blown out of proportion by the media. Maybe the Rush Limbaughs and Mike Pences of the world will be proven exactly right.
I genuinely hope they are. Truly. I have no dog in this political fight.
What I do have is a teenage son with an underlying respiratory disease and two parents with compromised immune systems. My own new personal Normal is a near-constant fear for their well-being. So I will listen to the scientific experts, adhere to their pleas and GLADLY get made fun of in June for being a cowardly worrywart who caved in to mass hysteria and did all that for nothing. That is, after all, far better than having done it all for good reason.