Your Views: We have rights even in a pandemic

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Your Views: We have rights even in a pandemic
Waterfront Park. (Photo/Luke Anderson)
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To the editor:

The goal of the suppression strategies toward the pandemic throughout the United States is to ensure that the healthcare system does not become so overwhelmed with gravely ill patients it results in needless death. Since there is no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, we face a situation where everyone is at risk until scientists either develop one or herd immunity occurs naturally. Either way, it’s going to take time.

But the risks from COVID-19 vary. Some people face substantial risk, including death, while others face significantly less risk. Some have already had the disease and I believe face no further risk. Nevertheless, our governments have largely adopted an aggressive, risk-averse strategy for everyone, squelching all “non-essential” activity. Even with the best of intentions, this policy imposes collateral damage. Many people face significant hardship. Some even face death.

In a nation of 328 million people and as many differing contexts, we have a right to demand freedom and flexibility. Government ought to use its quarantine powers to protect the vulnerable while also protecting the rights of others to function as they must. The recent Michigan protests, for example, were a pushback against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s draconian and overly aggressive suppression strategy.

Some people object to such pushbacks. I do not. I’d protect the freedom of people to assess their risk and act accordingly. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not evaporate in a pandemic.

Let’s remember, it didn’t take an edict for professional sports leagues to cancel their seasons or other businesses to take action to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. My family sheltered down well before we were ordered to, along with millions of others. Not everyone is a fool, and whatever government orders, actual fools aren’t going to suddenly disappear.

By our own judgement, my family and I choose to remain in isolation. I don’t begrudge the freedom of anyone who concludes otherwise.

-Nicholas P. Provenzo, Alexandria

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