Fall is here. Leaves are falling. COVID-19 isn't. Infections are rising in Marion County, in Oregon, in the United States.
Not good. In fact, horrible. People have become complacent about wearing masks and physical distancing. It doesn't matter if you're inside a grocery store or the home of someone who is having a social gathering.
Wear a damn mask!
In the name of freedom. Yes, freedom. Too many people have the crazy idea that going maskless shows you're a freedom lover. Actually, it shows that you have no idea what freedom means.
If you don't believe me, read this opinion piece: "There's a Word for Why We Wear Masks, and Liberals Should Say It." That word is freedom.
One of the key authors of the Western concept of freedom is John Stuart Mill. In “On Liberty,” he wrote that liberty (or freedom) means “doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow, without impediment from our fellow creatures, as long as what we do does not harm them even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse or wrong.”
Note the clause “as long as what we do does not harm them.” He tossed that in there almost as a given — indeed, it is a given. This is a standard definition of freedom, more colloquially expressed in the adage “Your freedom to do as you please with your fist ends where my jaw begins.”
Now, conservatives revere Mill. But today, in the age of the pandemic, Mill and other conservative heroes like John Locke would be aghast at the way the American right wing bandies about the word “freedom.”
Freedom emphatically does not include the freedom to get someone else sick. It does not include the freedom to refuse to wear a mask in the grocery store, sneeze on someone in the produce section and give him the virus. That’s not freedom for the person who is sneezed upon. For that person, the first person’s “freedom” means chains — potential illness and even perhaps a death sentence. No society can function on that definition of freedom.
...Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up. Even John Stuart Mill would have agreed.
Recently my wife and I wanted to get an estimate from a Salem company for some work our house needed. The guy who came out wasn't wearing a mask In fact, he didn't even have one. We gave him one to wear while he was inside our house.
The estimate was too high. But even if it had been acceptable, we wouldn't have hired this company, because they obviously don't respect our freedom to not get COVID-19. We also won't buy food from restaurants that don't do their best to keep their customers safe.
So it's bad business to ignore public health measures like requiring mask wearing indoors.
It also is selfish for anyone to go maskless. For example, the Salem-Keizer School District can't have in-person learning for all grades until the local infection rate is much lower than it is now. Thus everyone who fails to wear a mask is helping doom children and teenagers to online learning.
Here's some charts that show how Oregon and Marion County are doing. Again, not good.
Statewide, we've surpassed the COVID-19 previous peak of mid-July. In Marion County, our cases per 100,000 residents for the past seven days are the fifth highest of the 36 counties in Oregon, even higher than Lane County, which has been put on a Watch List by the Oregon Health Authority.
Marion County has about 42% of the Multnomah County population, yet 64% as many COVID-19 cases as Multnomah County. If we don't get our act together, Salem, along with the rest of Marion County, could have our re-opening policies rolled back.