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How to Follow the Rules When Everyone Else Ignores Them

There’s no doubt at all that COVID-19 is a serious virus that has killed over 560-thousand people worldwide and 136-thousand people just in the United States, and those numbers are rising every single day with horrifying speed.

Even with statistics like that, there are still so many people that are either blatantly ignoring the safety guidelines or trying to find a compromise so they don’t have to follow all the rules fully. This is especially a problem in areas that are still reporting many positive cases on a daily basis, but not nearly as much as the hot spots do. It’s almost as if people are putting themselves in the mindset of, “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t affect me.” Let’s call this “Santa Claus Syndrome”.

Remember being young and wanting to stay up all night so you can get a peek at Santa Claus as he puts your Christmas presents under the tree? You either don’t see him at all, or you see your parents. But at some point, someone will come up to you (a friend, older child, etc.) and ask you, “You believe in Santa? Well, have you ever seen him? How do you know he exists if you’ve never seen him?” It’s the same argument I’ve heard given by atheists to drop doubt into the minds of devout religious followers. “If you’ve never seen God, then how do you know they even exist?”

It’s just not a sound argument. There are a lot of things in the world and universe that do exist but cannot be seen by the human eye. A few examples are: the wind blowing on your face, the forces of gravity, and atoms. These things exist, and yet, are invisible to us unless observed using the proper tools.

Here’s why the argument doesn’t work with COVID-19: BECAUSE IT CAN BE SEEN! ALL OVER THE PLACE! Just because it’s not happening in your neighborhood just means you got lucky. It absolutely does not mean in any way, shape, or form that someone in your neighborhood won’t contract it and spread it to you. That notion itself is ridiculous, but it’s all too real.

As an example of this problem, I’ll use my own city, Lincoln, NE. For the first few months of COVID-19 being in the US, Lincoln (like most rural communities) didn’t take it too seriously. It was only spreading in the big cities like Los Angeles and New York City. Businesses remained open, bars were filled with people like usual, and masks were the last things people were looking to buy. Then, our first case was announced, and the whole city shut down in a hurry. It was scary, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride at how well Lincoln took charge of protecting its people.

Once the cases began to “dwindle” and “decrease” around the country, Lincoln opened up fast. People were already feeling cooped up after only a month or two in their homes and apartments, so the city was reopened like so many others. That’s when the number of cases began doubling and tripling at terrifying rates every day. My girlfriend and I watched from inside as the city surged back to life in spite of the rising cases around the country.

Now, for whatever reason, people are pushing back against wearing masks more than they ever did when the cases were just starting. Even though almost every business in the city has placed signs on their doors and windows requiring masks to be worn, I still see citizens arguing with business owners about why they need to wear a mask. And, to be honest, most of the people I see not wearing masks, are the people that should be wearing a mask at the very least. In reality, they should be the most scared of the epidemic, but they always make the same claims: “I never get sick.” or “I take care of myself so there’s no way I could get sick.”

What a ridiculous lack of understanding. There are dozens of studies coming out every day about how this virus is affecting everyone and not just those who have underlying health conditions. The average age of confirmed cases is getting lower and lower and the bars and beaches remain open and thriving.

Just the other day, I was speaking with an old friend who is working in Iowa as the safety manager for building wind turbines. He was explaining how after work, he and his co-workers go the bars and have drinks. I try and express my obvious concerns, and he tells me that, “It’s gotten to the point where everyone, including me, is tired of just sitting around doing nothing. I either get sick or I don’t. I just want to live my life.” Needless to say, I was speechless. This virus kills people very easily. Your choices aren’t get sick or don’t; it’s more like survive another day or don’t. This virus is scary and deathly serious. Another horrifying thing my friend told me was that one of his coworkers tested positive for COVID-19, but most of the others don’t want to get tested. From what he could tell, they’re thought process was: “If I get tested and am positive, that will morally keep me from going out and having fun, so if I don’t get tested I won’t know if I’m positive or not, that way I can still go out and party without feeling guilty.” I had to end the conversation there because my head was spinning. 

This is a difficult time for a lot of people, but especially for the ones who are trying all they can to follow the rules given to them by the CDC and WHO. You stay inside and find things to do, you Facetime your friends and family and try to keep yourself and everybody else safe; however, outside you see all the people who aren’t even trying to be safe. They don’t social distance, they don’t wear masks, and they don’t even appear to care about anyone else but themselves.

The best we can do is just continue following the rules given to us. Be grateful if you’re not seeing anyone in your area that’s sick, but don’t take that as a free ticket to shop at every boutique without a mask or any protection. Be smart and understand that the people telling you to wear a mask or use hand sanitizer are trying to help you and keep you healthy. You don’t need to sacrifice your health just because all your friends are going out the bars. Use your head and trust your instincts when they’re telling you something doesn’t seem safe.

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Written by Van Windsor

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