I was pulled into an interesting conversation about a week ago. I wasn’t there for the first part of it, but I could tell that COVID-19 was the subject. As I got closer to where the two people were talking, the young lady was arguing that we should continue the safety measures that had been set up during the quarantine. The young man said he couldn’t wait to be done with all of it. That’s when I was asked, “Mrs. Jameson, do you think we should still be doing temperature checks after Covid is done?”
“Nope. I don’t think we should,” I said without hesitating.
Knowing that I had a real opportunity to educate these two young people, I added, “You know we come in contact with lots of other viruses, right? You have your entire lives. Why was COVID singled out to be the one we all should be so afraid of this year? What about the flu virus?” I could see that the young lady hadn’t thought about that yet. She slowly began to nod her head as I continued, “The flu can be pretty severe for some people. You hear about that every year, especially this time of year, but life with the flu was nothing like life with COVID. We didn’t have to wear masks, do any social distancing, close down the country, or do anything like we’ve been forced to do. So, yeah, I think temperature checks eventually need to stop. So should the other measures end…”
I let me voice trail off.
The young man clapped. He was in agreement with everything I had just said. The young lady didn’t say it, but I could tell that she could see my point. Had we continued talking, I think she’d have eventually agreed that some of the safety measures we’re still doing could be phased out, like wearing masks and taking temperatures. People should certainly continue wearing masks if they feel are protected by them. They could take their temperature daily if they wanted to also, but not everyone has an average temperature. Some are lower than the average while others can be typically higher. Plus, right before corona came into our lives, we learned that that typical 98.6˚ temperature was not so average after all. To be denied entry to a building based on that reading may be a bit excessive.
During the conversation I agreed with these two young people that yes, COVID is something we need to take seriously. But, like other viruses, it’s going to do what viruses do. Viruses replicate, they lysate (break down the cell’s protein wall), and they spread to other host cells hoping they can continue to replicate. Over time, viruses can also mutate, all the while seeking new potential hosts.
Isn’t that exactly what we’re seeing happen right now?
Besides seeing a virus in action these last nine months, we’re also seeing something else: fear in motion.
Earlier this year, the public knew very little, if anything at all, about coronaviruses. As more information was shared, so was fear. As that ramped up, so did talk of a new vaccine. That would save us from this novel virus! Touting it safe and effective before it even hit the production line, some sources still want a rushed and limited safety tested vaccine to be our only hope.
Like a virus, fear can be replicated as well. It can jump from one source to another, and so quickly now thanks to technology and social media. From shutting down entire countries to continuing to restrict people and businesses until a vaccine becomes available, fear has ruled the COVID-19 airways. It’s too bad because learning moments have been lost, especially for those young people.
“Would you get the new vaccine, Mrs. Jameson?” one of them asked me.
“Oh, I would never. I don’t think it would be the right thing for me or my kids to get,” I shared.
Not knowing my son’s history, or the amount of knowledge I’ve gained on the subject of liability-free vaccines, I kept my reply short. If pressed why I’d skip it, I would have absolutely offered more information. My role in that moment was not to teach them about viruses or about liability-free vaccines though. It was to keep calm and be as positive as I could be about something that never should have scared as many people as it still does.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.