Analysis: Yes, we’re frustrated, but we must keep following COVID guidelines

As a state and nation, we’re in a really weird place in the great COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. First, it’s great that vaccines will soon be distributed and administered. Better days are definitely ahead.

But, meanwhile, infection rates, deaths and hospitalizations are soaring. And many governments are cracking down with mask requirements, school closures, and restrictions, some of them inconsistent, on businesses and gatherings.

At the same time, many citizens are rebelling. Businesses are failing, children are flunking school, and much of the nation is emitting a great cry of, “We’ve had enough!” They’re tired of lockdowns and shutdowns and believe the consequences of being locked down are worse than the consequences of the virus.

Part of the reason for the frustration is a belief among a good share of the populace that, in general, we’re being more careful than ever. We’re wearing masks when we’re around other people, we’re social distancing. We’re following guidelines related to gatherings. But, still, the pandemic rages out of control. There’s an almost fatalistic sense that we’re trying very hard, but we can’t turn things around. I’ve heard a number of people wonder if infections have reached a tipping point with enough people infected that spread is inevitable.    

Thus, many people believe restrictions are ineffective and we ought to live normal lives and wait for vaccines. It doesn’t help that in some cities and states regulations are inconsistent and leaders haven’t followed their own guidelines.

Philosophically, I tend to sympathize with the anti-lockdown group. I’m glad Utah leaders haven’t shut down businesses and have taken a commonsense approach to slowing the spread.

However, there is one set of facts that simply can’t be refuted, that show to me that, despite the frustrations, we need to do everything possible to reduce infections by following guidelines and wearing masks, even if we don’t like it. That set of facts has to do with our healthcare system being overwhelmed, our intensive care units full, and our doctors and nurses overworked and exhausted. We’re at the point where non-COVID healthcare is starting to be impacted, and things will only get worse over the next few weeks and months. We can’t push our healthcare system over the brink.

Thus, we can’t give in, engage in risky behavior, and simply wait for a vaccine. The next several weeks are critical and, whether we like it or not, we need to comply with the guidelines. The vaccines are on the way. We can hold out for a few more months.