What is the price of a life? One million dollars? Ten million? What do you think?
Today, we are faced with the incredible reality which forces us to decide just how valuable our lives are in comparison to the lives of other people living in our community, in our state, in our nation and around the world.
A pandemic has come upon us. The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is the designated moniker of the dreaded virus. Though research has gone into high gear, clinical data still shows we are months away from a viable, effective vaccine.
It is gaining momentum each passing day. On the 15th of this month, nationwide, reported positive tested cases were at 3,000 with 65 dead. As I write this, numbers have risen to more than 94,238, with 1,438 reported deaths. Source: John Hopkins University.
In just thirteen days, numbers have risen exponentially and the trend line suggests the infection rate has yet to reach its peak.
In spite of governmentally issued “stay at home” orders, citizens in certain areas have ignored the pleas to help flatten the infection rate curve, which has increased pressure on the health care system, straining it to the maximum as numbers of infections rise.
Some folks ignore the pleas due to ignorance, preferring to believe in their youthful invincibility to infection. In New York City alone, 44% of all patients are from ages 18 to 44 years of age. Only 19% are older than 64.
Some folks believe the political view; the pandemic is a left-wing hoax, driven by the Left’s desire to control the population and, ironically, to take away their guns. Some, like President Trump and others, believe the economy is more important than the lives of our citizens most prone to this virus. They seem eager to rid themselves of elderly and those with pre-existing conditions sacrificed on the altar of economic expediency.
Others believe the religious view; one church cites freedom to worship as they please, regardless of the compelling circumstances. Another church says they are essential to the community. However, they refuse to follow safe sanitation practices. Essential or not, safe practices are still the required protocol, which betrays their purpose; that of disbelieving the stark reality of the deadly impact the virus has. It is an anti-science view which has its origins coming from beyond commonsense and rational reasoning.
Experts advise much higher numbers are coming down the road before they subside. Statewide, Kansas reported 48 cases on March 20, rising to 205 cases on the 27th and three deaths.
Globally, numbers are climbing, from 260,000+ cases reported on the 20th of March, with 11,000 deaths to more than 576,859 cases and 26,455 deaths on the 27th. That’s more than doubling of numbers within eight days.
Back to the original question; what is a life worth today? Regardless of where we live, each individual makes a quantitative decision every day. If one believes this pandemic is a religious rights issue, a hoax or left-wing conspiracy and does not self-isolate, the answer is; not very much.
If one trusts reports coming from the National Institute of Health, the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization, and behaves according to the suggested guidelines, then value of life rises immensely.
And not only has value for my life and the lives of my family risen, but also the lives of others within my community. In order to protect myself and my family from the scourge of infection and possible death, I must also be mindful of everyone who may come in contact with my family.
I must abide by the guidelines set forth by the appropriate health experts who know how a highly infectious virus, like the COVID-19, can survive outside a host body long enough to catch a ride on the next victim. I must, therefore, value your life as much as I value mine.
Protecting someone we love requires sacrifice of will, time and often our finances. If we are to succeed in flattening the curve low enough to minimize harm, this sacrifice is necessary.
The life you save might be your grandmother, your grandfather, your brother or sister, or your parents. It might even be you.
Lastly, if we are to support those dedicated and capable people in the medical field who are our first line of defense, we owe it to them to follow proven guidelines to minimize the mass of humanity which will inevitably arrive at their door.