Perspective on COVID-19 in Illinois

We can all agree that every human life is precious and any loss of life is tragic and should be mourned. We know that advances in medicine have prolonged lifespans dramatically, but we also know that we are mortal. It is important to keep perspective with regard to COVID-19. We know the virus is dangerous primarily to those who are older and those with other underlying health conditions. It is important to practice social distancing, hand-washing, etc., but we should not look to shutdowns or business closures as a solution. We need to focus our efforts on the most vulnerable. For example, most outbreaks (especially those resulting in death) in Illinois are attributable to long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and other congregate living facilities. That is where all our time and effort should be focused.

We need to work harder to bring our state together against the fear and poor political decisions surrounding COVID-19. Destroying people’s livelihoods and increasing unemployment through Governor-ordered business closures is creating exponentially more societal ills far and beyond the virus itself. Anxiety, depression, suicide and domestic violence rates have spiked in the shadow of COVID-19.

I am concerned that the approach of our state and local authorities are ignoring the other physical, emotional, and mental health issues that are resulting from our public policies. It is not healthy for human beings to live isolated from others. Children should not be educated via distance learning with no socialization or organized activities. Government officials and public health bureaucrats should not be designating business as essential or non-essential.

The legislative majority in Springfield should not have abandoned its responsibilities and allowed the Governor to be the sole decision-maker. This is NOT now how a democracy operates. One, lone elected official in Illinois should not be able to close one sector of the economy and put people out of work unable to support their families.

We need to take COVID-19 seriously, but we need to have the perspective that it is one of many risks to the human condition. An estimated 100,000 people in Illinois and 3,000 in Winnebago County will unfortunately pass away each year from all causes. The CDC estimates that nationwide there were 22,000 deaths from the flu last year; 47,956 deaths from pneumonia and 655,000 deaths annually from heart disease. In total, 2.5 million people die every year in the United States from all causes.

We should not live in fear or be afraid to question the wisdom of government edicts. We must strive to live and function safely as individuals, families and as a community amid the pandemic. We absolutely can protect the most vulnerable in our society without closing whole sectors of our economy and imposing devastating restrictions on small businesses, their employees, and the families who depend upon them. We need to demand that our public officials focus their efforts more responsibly for our community’s overall health, and we must learn that allowing one elected official to have total control is not what is best for a healthy democracy.