Letter: Opinion writer politicizes COVID-19

Editor,

I’m writing in response to the “My View” column by Marjorie Haun published in your last issue.

I am disturbed and concerned with the way Ms. Haun casts fears about COVID-19 as a hoax, and with the way she politicizes the efforts to lessen the impact of this potentially serious issue.

I don’t disagree with her assertion — in line with the CDC’s — that the risk from this virus is relatively low for many people. I am a young and healthy person, and it is likely that if I contract the virus, I will recover easily. But, as Mohandas Ghandi said, the measure of any society can be found in how it treats its weakest members.

What is the downside to taking easy precautions for a month or two?

Regardless of whether or not you think the president has handled the COVID-19 outbreak well, it behooves all of us to take the few recommended easy precautions in order to protect those who are vulnerable. As Ms. Haun herself says, some of these actions could yield useful benefits: clean hands, full pantries, a little peace and quiet, time with your family.

The older folks that I am friends with have expressed that they are disturbed at the carelessness with which some, like Ms. Haun, are treating these events. For them, and others who rely regularly on a functional health care system, a hospital and ambulance service clogged with COVID-19 cases or precautionary quarantines poses as much of a risk as the virus itself.

We have a responsibility to care for our neighbors by caring for ourselves, and to put aside the petty political one-upmanship that has begun to infect our conversation around this.

Additionally, I am disturbed that The Times-Independent would even print Ms. Haun’s piece. The news media has a responsibility to provide accurate and objective information to the public during this time. I understand that “The Great Bung Fodder Scare of 2020” was presented as an opinion piece, but it was run right next to a factual piece by Dr. Engar, who was writing on behalf of the Southeast Utah Heath Department — which was also presented in the opinion section!

These are not two opposing views to be weighed against each other. One is a vitriolic and mean-spirited person using a potential crisis to gain political capital, and the other is an important discussion of fact being disseminated by a government entity.

Moving forward, I urge us all to keep political discussion out of this potentially dangerous situation. Washing hands, keeping your distance, and being conscientious of the spread of disease is a generous action you can take to care for your community and those you love.

— Sam Newman
Moab