Careless ... entitled ... dangerous?

Why the 14-day self-quarantine doesn’t work for some people
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 8:00am

    “We’re all in this together.”

    No, apparently we’re not. Some of us seem to be entitled to more than others. More toilet paper, more hand sanitizer, more – you name it. For some people, this virus is bringing out the worst in their behavior.

    Most of us watched in horror as television news showed young adults crowding the beaches over spring break, wondering why they didn’t understand that their actions could harm others around them.

    But from Hawaii to Maine, resort communities are facing a similar threat: people are arriving from areas where the virus is prevalent, choosing instead to stay in a vacation home. All while the year-round residents obediently stay inside, trying to avoid the spread of infection.

    Governors across the U.S. have asked people coming into their states to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. But it’s an empty request for two reasons.

    First, “requests” are unenforceable.

    Second and more to the point, someone who would leave an area in quarantine and travel anywhere is someone who doesn’t really give a darn or doesn’t get it. Do we really think we can depend on these people to stay inside once they are here? 

    By the time they arrive, they have potentially exposed everyone and everything along the way to a life-threatening disease: the cashiers at the drive through, the people using the ATM machines or gas pumps after them, folks in the grocery stores where they shop before moving into their vacation homes.

    “I feel fine,” they say, trying to excuse their behavior. The grim reality is people can have the virus and not feel any symptoms. 

    After hearing more times than I care to that yet another person has fled a highly populated area to go to their vacation home somewhere, it’s time to get really frank because that covidiocy is putting all of us at risk.

    So, for folks who need it, here’s a little help:

    - According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.”

    Do you see the word vacation anywhere in this? This is not spring break. Schools are closed because there is an epidemic going on. This is not the time to load up the car and head for your vacation home.

    Your impression of our area is a 120-day view during the summer. That is not what is happening here now.

    - Most of our shops, hotels and restaurants are closed. Our grocery stores support our small communities and they are doing their darnedest to keep up. Right now, we don’t have enough toilet paper, eggs, flour and other staples for our year-round residents. We sure don’t have extra for you and your family. What you take off the shelves, the rest of us have to make do without.   

    - We do not have a hospital on this peninsula. The urgent care facility has been closed. If you or your family member has a medical emergency, it’s a 40-minute ride to the hospital in Damariscotta. And it has 25 beds. Our year-round population is 8,000. Just about anywhere else you might currently be has more medical equipment than we do here. You may think you are going to be safer by coming here but if you need an ICU bed or a ventilator, good luck. 

    As of this week’s briefing from the Maine CDC, we have 77 intensive care unit beds and 248 ventilators available for the entire state of 1.3 million people. Whose ICU bed will you be taking by coming here? Whose ventilator?

    - Those facing the most serious risk from the virus are the elderly. Maine has the oldest average population in the U.S. and our county has the oldest average age in Maine. The last thing we need right now (or in the near future) is even more exposure from people who do, actually, have somewhere else they can stay.

    Hopefully after reading this you have changed any plans for a trip to this area while there is still a threat of COVID-19.

    Meanwhile, why not start doing what a number of us are doing? Stay where you are and give some of your energy to others. Make face masks for those who could use them. Call older members of your community and check on them to see how they are. Contribute to organizations that provide food. Volunteer to pick up groceries or prescriptions for an elderly neighbor. Take food to medical workers or law enforcement.

    Once this pandemic has stopped, we can all be “in this together.”  Until then, help us to stay safe by staying where you are.