Isn’t it fascinating how differently we all respond to being ill? Some people, when they are sick, want to be pampered. Others want to curl up and be left alone. Still others something in between.
On top of that, we have different ways of responding to those we live with when they are sick. I don’t know about you, but I think I may respond the way I want to be responded to rather than what my wife actually wants at the time. It is cold and flu season, not to mention new COVID viruses lurking around, which is what makes me think about all of this.
When I feel a cold coming on I hole up, drink lots of liquids, and sleep as much as I can for a day in hopes of sending the virus packing. It often works. I know other people who, when they have a cold, keep charging ahead. They go to work or school and just ignore it. I have seen more masks at Wegmans lately, and it seems to me it is a good way to keep from getting other viruses not just warding off the COVID strains.
A compelling study was published at the end of July in the premier medical journal, JAMA Internal Medicine, conducted by Yale University in Florida and Ohio. They analyzed over half a million deaths in those two states before and after the advent of COVID. They studied death rates between Democrats and Republicans before COVID, the first year of COVID, and the next year when vaccines were widely available.
Before COVID vaccines became easily accessible there was no difference in death rates between affiliates of the two political parties. But after the vaccines were widely available the “excess death rate among Republican voters was 43% higher than the excess death rate among Democratic voters.” This was more true in counties with lower vaccine rates and in Ohio than in Florida.
When health care and public health policy get politicized around something so elemental as vaccines and masking, bad things are sure to happen. There is a strange knee-jerk resistance humans have to being told to do something or not do something by people in authority. One of my tween-age sons once, when we had left him in the car to run an errand, pushed in the lighter and then touched his finger to it. We had told him never to do that of course, but he had to try it.
From 1918-1919 a deadly flu epidemic infected a third of the world’s population and killed fifty million people. Even back then masking was mandated in many places and met with resistance similar to what we saw in 2020-2021. There weren’t armed demonstrations at state capitals though, nor an effort to kidnap a governor for mandating it. From our perch now, it seems impossible to believe those things really happened just because of efforts to limit the spread of a potentially deadly virus.
Alas, it is cold and flu season again — a parallel universe with the awesome colors and aromas of autumn. The thing is, when we’re sick we are usually at our worst, only focused on ourselves and our own needs. Come to think of it, that may be an apt description of much of our political culture right now, too. Get well soon, please.