We have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic since March. We watched as our schools closed, businesses and churches were shut down and shortages of certain every-day items created anxiety.
We were told to stay indoors and hunker down. The most vulnerable were locked down in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
It was a time like most of us had never witnessed.
Now, a couple of months past the lockdown, I guess we are free to roam and do what we choose. We are under a safer-at-home order from the governor, but we are ignoring that because we do not like being told what to do.
We have started training camps for athletes and watched protestors crowd our streets without any facial coverings and no social distancing. We are going to the beach, partying big and holding campaign rallies. The consensus is just to ‘get on with it.’
Believe me, I get it.
Except I happen to be in the age category that is most susceptible to the virus and the deadliest if you have underlying conditions. The decisions I make about wearing a mask or attending large gatherings could have serious consequences. I do not have the luxury of throwing caution to the wind, but I have never been that person anyway.
I rely on state agencies to provide information about the number of cases in Alabama and specifically the number of confirmed cases in Jackson County.
As of Monday, Alabama had 30,031 confirmed with 423 probable cases. We have added 8986 cases in the last 14 days. Our numbers keep rising daily.
Now we are learning testing is bad for business.
I listen to governors in other states blaming rising numbers on testing. It is like they are implying that if we did not test so much, we would not have so many cases. That made no sense, until it did.
At his Tulsa, Oklahoma rally on Saturday, President Trump told his supporters that he advocated for slowing down coronavirus testing out of concern more testing might reveal more cases.
On Sunday, the White House issued a statement saying Trump’s comments were tongue-in-cheek.
Over 120,000 lives have been lost due to the virus. We are not laughing.
It is not the only time numbers bothered him. Back in March he expressed concerns that letting a coronavirus -infected cruise ship’s passengers disembark in the United States could spike our case numbers.
Last week Trump held a round table event for seniors and told them there would be very few cases of the coronavirus if the United States stopped testing and contact tracing measures. I wonder how well that went over with that bunch.
On May 15, he said, “if we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”
Let me get this straight. More tests equal more cases and less testing equals fewer cases. Talk about sticking your head in the sand.
So, if I think I am pregnant but do not take a pregnancy test, will I have a baby or not?
If we were not testing, we would still have sick people. We just would not know where they are or how many there were. Without testing, we would have to rely on social distancing measures and wearing masks. We have already seen how that worked out for us.
Unfortunately, Trump sees the virus as just a public relations crisis for his re-election.
He cannot be happy that eight of his Oklahoma campaign workers got tested because the results were not good. Those dang tests.
Last week, Oklahoma had an increase of 185 percent in new cases compared to the week prior. South Carolina and Arizona saw increases of 156 percent and 145 percent. There is no way they increased their testing by those percentages.
Most states are only testing individuals with symptoms. Other than sick people, the testing criteria for Alabama residents include hospitalized patients, healthcare workers in congregate living settings, first responders and residents in correctional and detention centers. After each group listed, it states they must have symptoms.
It is not about more testing. It is about more folks getting sick because we are no longer staying at home and going about our business. We can handle the truth so there is no reason to act like the numbers are about some conspiracy by the media to “over-report.”
Historically, testing has always been an essential part of the public health response to any infectious disease. Science tells us the virus will continue infecting, keep on spreading and continue killing people, even if you do not keep a count or test for who has it.
Ignoring a problem will not make it go away, even if it is an election year.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.