Where are we with COVID-19?, by E. Faye Williams

4/28/2022, 6 p.m.
I don’t know about you, but I am sometimes confused about circumstances which dictate our compliance and action, and what ...

I don’t know about you, but I am sometimes confused about circumstances which dictate our compliance and action, and what those appropriate actions must or should be.

COVID-19 created that type of conundrum for me and millions of others. The 81 million U.S. COVID-19 cases and the 990,000 American COVID-19-related deaths suggest a breakdown in understanding the seriousness and avoidance of this dreaded disease.

Initially, we were told that facial masks were unnecessary. Later, we were all told to mask up. Some did. Others refused. Later, we were told that masks were only necessary indoors.

For their survival, some businesses and many restaurants began setting up outdoors. For the sake of public health, many businesses and local jurisdictions elected to err on the side of caution and demand masking compliance.

Some of us really want to do the right thing, but don’t know what the “real” right thing is. We do know that some never took the vaccine or booster and never took their children to be vaccinated. We do know that we had more cases of the virus than necessary, and far too many people died.

After two years of discomfort, my concern is that we have lapsed into a dangerous state of indifference. Panic no longer informs our conduct, and our own arrogance lies by telling us, “It can’t happen to you or anyone you love.”

Political hacks exploit COVID-19 for their personal advantage and become “pandemic experts” who peddle a false sense of invulnerability to the masses.

I wish for the time when collective efforts against COVID-19 were driven by public health officials who spoke scientific truth. Sadly, an active mob of COVID-19 deniers have bullied and threatened public health officials across the nation into silence. Where is Dr. Fauci? Where is the director of the Centers for Disease Control? I want reassurance from Dr. Kavita Patel or others of a like mind. Instead of self-serving political hacks, I would rather have competent public health officials provide guidance to direct the prevention of a re-emergence of this disease.

For more than two years, we have been told to wear masks indoors and outdoors, and on public transportation. This guidance included wearing masks on airplanes, trains and other public transportation. Although there was resistance to these masking requirements, most rational adults accepted them as necessary and lifesaving.

Unfortunately, those who bastardize and distort the definition of “freedom” to mean “I can do what I want when I want,” recurringly initiate episodes of resistant violence on aircraft and other modes of public transit.

Now, unqualified judges are getting in the act. Without hearing testimony, federal District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida exercised her medical expertise and invalidated the mask mandate on public transportation. Rated as “Unqualified” by the American Bar Association, Judge Mizelle issued a ruling that was in direct opposition to a planned extension of the mask mandate to combat the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

Those on the radical right assert that the government has no authority to force us to wear masks or take vaccinations or boosters. That seems strangely inaccurate because the government can force us to pay income tax, possess a drivers’ license if we drive, qualify for professional licenses, pay property taxes, pay child support or alimony or get something called a “Real ID.”

Now, if we must comply with those requirements forced upon us by the government, why must we suffer with false claims of the right of exemption from the mask? Someone please explain why it is wrong to protect our health as well as the health of those around us.

The writer is a minister, a U.N. peace ambassador, an author and radio show host and president of the Dick Gregory Society.