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Davis Journal

Pandemic would be over now except for the misinformed

Oct 08, 2021 12:24PM ● By Bryan Gray

This pandemic should have ceased a long time ago. We stopped polio. We stopped smallpox. We could have stopped the spread of COVID too if only a small minority of Americans had not confused freedom with accountability and believed the bellowing internet crackpots instead of guidance from solid science.

If a physician tells me I’ve got cancer, it’s best to believe him than the guy who does my shoe repair.  Combine ignorance with the “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want” crowd and you have a virus which has killed nearly 700,000 Americans and forced others to delay life-saving treatment for other diseases due to limited hospital capacity.

Yes, it makes me angry.  We had a key to the solution, but a few misinformed men and women gummed up the lock.

These included a few Utahns who protested last week outside their employer, the Internal Revenue Service. Their labor union president backed them up, saying they should have a choice as to receiving the vaccine or lose their jobs.

My best response to this claim comes from national newspaper columnist Nancy Armour who wrote last week, “Personal choice, freedom of choice, and a life choice? No. A personal choice is one that affects only you. We have any number of laws that place the protection of the collective good above personal freedoms. Try exercising your ‘freedom’ to drive 100 miles per hour in a school zone and see how well that goes for you.” 

People are being misled. A Cedar City reader, for instance, recently wrote me that the World Health Organization “still insists there is no proof that masks work to slow the spread of COVID.” Actually that’s a misnomer. In July, the WHO stated that mask-wearing was part of a “comprehensive strategy to suppress the spread of the virus” and it recommended masks be worn even among the vaccinated. The reader is correct that masks are not a cure-all, but it’s not a fable that the mask-less unvaccinated are some five times more likely to die of COVID in Utah than those listening to the scientific community.

A similar cry comes from a former Salt Lake City Police officer leading the “freedom movement” while holding public anti-vaccination events throughout the state. Before such an event in northern Utah last week, he claimed, “Government in general was never in charge of our health.”

Again, not true. In a court case, Jacobs vs. Massachusetts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state could override individual rights to balance public health during a smallpox outbreak. The justices spoke of viewing “the welfare, comfort, and safety of many, and not permit the interests of the many to be subordinated to the wishes and convenience of the few.”

If the government doesn’t have a legitimate interest in public health, the taxpayers could save a few dollars and stop funding clean water and air initiatives.  

Yes, this column should never have had to be written since COVID should no longer be an issue. But as I write this, Utah hospitals have reported another 23 deaths due to COVID. And yes, this makes me angry.