Lynn Wenzel: We are not Sweden
According to an op-ed in the May 23 issue of The Union by Bob Hren, it is time to “end the unconstitutional lockdown order.”
Hren’s major support for his proposition is Sweden. He claims that Sweden’s open policy has resulted in “herd immunity,” that no masks, no social distancing and open businesses and schools has meant that Sweden has remained “normal,” that their results are about the same as for other European countries and they are not suffering secondary impacts to mental and physical health.
As Hren presents no facts or figures to back up his statements, I decided to find those facts.
Putting aside the reality that the United States bears absolutely no similarity to Sweden — it boasts one of the world’s best health-care systems, accessible to all regardless of ability to pay, as well as a strong social net for the “least of these,” and that half of its population lives solo. Here are the facts:
Sweden’s experiment has resulted in a fast-rising death toll, placing it among the world’s worst hotspots. Among countries with more than 1,000 deaths, Sweden is sixth in rankings, the U.S. is ninth. Comparing populations, the U.S. population as of May 24, 2020, was 330,801,130, Sweden’s was 10,93,058. Sweden’s mortality rate is higher than the U. S. — 39.57 deaths per 100,000 in Sweden, 30.02 per 100,000 in the U.S. In spite of their experiment, Sweden’s retail and recreation numbers are down 3% and their deaths are 389 persons per one million (the U.S. is 292 per million). And Sweden’s economy is projected to suffer the most out of the entirety of Europe in 2020.
Now, let’s get to the argument about “freedom.” Mr. Hren contends that his rights have been trampled. What about my rights? Freedom doesn’t mean “free from obligations.” I know what freedom — real freedom — means. My grandfather fought for it in Word War I, my father in World War II, my Air Force uncle gave his life for it. They fought for the common good, for shared values, not for entitlement. If you believe that going to the hair salon or being able to go to a restaurant without a mask is more important than peoples’ lives, then I question your patriotism, your devotion to country and your obligation to the greater good. Your desire for ice cream does not outweigh my need to live.
I have great sympathy for our local businesses. My husband and I are huge supporters of our local establishments and nonprofits. We shop locally. We serve on their boards. We love Nevada County. Indeed, my family roots here go back 170 years. If only we could depend on the maturity and willingness of everyone to voluntarily obey the guidelines. But, unfortunately, some Americans have adopted the belief that sacrifice for the common good is “unpatriotic.” What a petty distortion of the Founders’ intent.
No, Mr. Hren, we did not have a “lack of information” about the virus. Health-care professionals and scientists saw this coming last year. They warned the administration beginning after Christmas. They presented briefs to the president every day. What was done? Nothing. Until, finally, there were so many sick and dying the administration had no choice but to act by recommending the quarantining of the population.
“Herd immunity” is not here. You want healthy people with “robust immune systems” to develop antibodies that will lead to immunity? I would like that too. Scientists say herd immunity might exist if 70% of the population had antibodies. But if, say, Santa Clara is our guide, latest tests show only 3% of their residents have immunity. As of today, there is no scientific proof that having had the virus confers immunity — none.
On the front page of the May 26 edition of The Union, a photo of 14 people without masks or physical distancing on the steps of a local ice cream shop is touted, describing them as “customers from the Sacramento region” and “”daytrippers” out for fun. Really?
Nevada County may have a “demolished curve” according to Mr. Hren, but does Sacramento? Or anywhere else in the valley? Even Kate Anderson, owner of the Crazy Horse, “expressed frustration hearing of other businesses not following social distancing guidelines.” That is why we must have emergency decrees — because people more concerned with their “rights” refuse to behave responsibly.
When your notion of liberty impinges on others’ right to “life and happiness” you have missed the lessons of American history.
Lynn Wenzel lives in Grass Valley.
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