Public health goes partisan

Did you ever think an issue concerning public health would cross into the realm of partisan politics?

If you answered “no,” then I venture to presume you’re in good company. Neither did I, nor I am reckoning did many of the nation’s public health or leading political figures.

But … here we are.

Governors around the country are pulling back on their reopening measures in the wake of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in their states. They have empowered local officials to enact stricter regulations for citizens to follow.

The reaction from many Americans has been jaw-dropping. I see news reports of residents yammering about losing their rights as citizens, how the government has become tyrannical in their mandates, orders and edicts.

One dipsh** in Florida said that he has the right to act using his own “intelligence” in response to the pandemic. Oh, really? That means he is “intelligent” enough to infect his neighbors, his family members and even total strangers if he decides against wearing a mask or refuses to maintain social distancing.

The term “public health” by definition means we are dealing with matters that involve everyone. The public. Strangers. Our neighbors.

We are in the midst of a public health crisis. When a governor issues an order to wear a mask, he or she is doing so to mitigate the damage being done by the disease the nation is fighting to control and to eliminate.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has joined the growing chorus of governors to issue stricter rules and regulations. He has been getting beaten up over the tardiness of his order. I won’t go there, except to say I am glad he has awakened to the crisis and has broken away from the policies being touted by other Republican politicians, starting with Donald Trump. 

Public health requires everyone to climb aboard the same wagon, or so one would have presumed. Then again, we live in the most polarized moment in recent memory. If only we could set aside our partisan differences in pursuit of a sound public health policy.

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