People are in protest around the world because of stay-at-home orders. Employment in the United States went from the best rate in 50 years to the worst figures since the Great Depression. The authoritative measures implemented by governments at every level of society are causing much concern.
Expanding government controls feels like a reach to get into the private lives of individuals. Contact tracing requirements, mandatory communication, and open medical data feel like intrusions that might never go away.
Is the “new normal” a place where interruptions to our daily routine are commonplace? Does it create a society where neighbors and families get encouraged to report each other for perceived wrongdoing?
Lessons Learned from the 1918 Influenza Response
When influenza killed tens of millions of people in 1918 and 1919, the governments of Europe and the United States used measures to control the epidemic that first started during the Bubonic Plague.
Medical professionals believed that the virus responsible for the new flu strain could get spread by sneezing and coughing. Since that meant you could get sick by breathing the air around someone who was ill, the governments implemented protocols similar to what we see today with COVID-19.
Almost all public institutions were closed – except for any essential businesses that contributed to the health and welfare of the economy. Public gatherings of any type were forbidden. Although churches could remain open, social distancing measures were required to limit physical contact with others. Public transportation was effectively banned. Committees even recommended staggering the opening and closing hours of stores to prevent overcrowding.
Rumors Circulate Quickly During a Crisis
Fear is the foundation of information during a pandemic. It is a trait seen throughout human history.
The reality of our government structures is that we give it broad authority to keep people safe during an emergency. A pandemic certainly qualifies for such an action. Although staying at home for 8-10 weeks in isolation can be trying on everyone, it can also provide the foundation of safety required to reduce infections and fatalities.
If the government was going to expand population controls because of COVID-19, then it would not slowly remove restrictions. It would merely put companies out of business and employees out of work. Then it would give people the basics for survival while demanding compliance for essential activities.
It is a different world when living in a pandemic. People are dealing with issues not seen for over a century. Although it is a scary time, we must remember to take care of one another.