For almost eight months, I didn’t know a single person who had contracted COVD-19. This made the virus seem far away, even though my family and I would regularly look up reports and examine the number of cases per county and state. The virus was a source of fascination, but an impersonal one.
Nonetheless, my family cared—and still cares—about keeping our community safe. Like most families in our town, we masked up, began sanitizing countless times per day, and practiced appropriate social-distancing. We avoided overreactions, unnecessary preventative measures, and nonsense, lest we be coerced into living in fear. However, we simultaneously wanted everyone to stay healthy.
Then, while I was at Bible study one day at the University of Chicago, I received a text from my 14-year-old brother, Andre. His COVID-19 test results had come back positive.
“Well, I guess I personally know one person who has the virus now,” Andre joked. He explained that he had been feeling a little bit run down and had been staying home from school, having a very slight fever. When my father called me shortly after receiving the news, he joked sarcastically over the phone: “So I have bad news for you. We can’t host your friends anymore for election night and we had to cancel our dinner reservation for Mom’s birthday. The good news? Andre is doing just fine and your mom and I are too. It is very mild.”
Regardless of their reassurances, I could not concentrate for the rest of Bible study. Thanks to the news reports detailing tragic deaths of young teenagers at the hands of the virus, I had not been this scared by something in a long time.
Upon returning to my dorm, I called Andre. He picked up immediately, in very cheerful spirits—cracking jokes left and right about his newfound “free time while under house arrest.” Although he was coughing occasionally, it was nowhere comparable to the graphic descriptions of the disease I had read about in many articles. Andre was not experiencing “delirium.” Nor did he have “debilitating fatigue and nausea,” as detailed by one patient who was interviewed by the New York Times. In fact, according to Andre, COVID-19 was “a bit worse than a cold.”
Andre’s case is more normal than not. Let us run through the numbers and set things straight. The six-digit death tolls are no joking matter, and COVID-19 is something that needs to be duly addressed by our government. However, over 80% of those who contract the virus experience few to no symptoms.
Consider also that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC, and that COVID-19 does not even come close. In 2017, heart disease killed 647,457 Americans, generating a death toll of 198.8 individuals per 100,000. In the state that has suffered the most from the pandemic, New Jersey, the death toll of COVID-19 is around 184 individuals per 100,000. And let us not forget that the Garden State is the hardest-hit state in terms of deaths proportionate to population, whereas the national death toll of the US from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins, is 69.59 deaths per 100,000.
While there has been no shortage of alarmist articles commanding residents to stay home at all costs, few Americans simultaneously claim that heart disease needs to be immediately addressed.
By no means am I diminishing the need to implement necessary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, as our country’s best and brightest work to produce a vaccine in record time. And in an ideal world, nobody would catch COVID-19. However, the virus is an unfortunate reality—and the question becomes how we, as a country, react to this.
We have two choices: we can respond to the virus with reason and caution, or we can live in constant fear and isolation. Like all pandemics, people will get infected with COVID-19, and some will ultimately, and tragically, die. This is not meant to be a cruel statement; it is merely the definition of a pandemic. However, this fact does not justify an overreaction. If you are sick or are feeling sick, do your community a service and stay home. Wear a mask when necessary and avoid large, public gatherings. And if you are in a population particularly vulnerable to the virus, then it is certainly reasonable to take extra precautionary measures.
That said, Americans can handle the virus cautiously, while nonetheless proceeding with their lives. When my brother tested positive, my parents opted to stay home with him. They were willing to take this risk, because they knew that they were in healthy condition. My family was quarantined for the necessary time period, in order to eliminate the spread of the virus to our neighbors and our community. And after my brother recovered, they returned to their lives.
In other words, I place trust in the American people that they know the amount of risk they are comfortable with and that they will handle the current situation responsibly.
Far too many politicians, especially those on the left, take a different approach, opting to weaponize the virus and further their partisan political agenda. During the final presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden consistently made pandering statements to this effect. According to Biden, my family is hurting badly. There is going to be an empty chair when my family wakes up tomorrow morning. And Biden weaponized the virus to meet his own political ends, by arguing that Americans would finally have “science” on their side without Trump in office—despite federal-government guidelines, Operation Warp Speed, and the deployment of ventilators and personal protective equipment. Therefore, Biden’s signature phrase should be revised: “If you got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t dying enough from COVID-19.”
Well, I have news for Biden. The science says that up to 80% of cases, including my brother’s case, are either asymptomatic or mild. According to data from the CDC, the COVID-19 death toll plummets for those under 65 years old to approximately 16.29 per 100,000 individuals—which is roughly three times less than the death toll of accidents for all age groups. So, please, stop the scare tactics. Stop politicizing the virus. Stop preventing Americans from working to earn their livings, going to school, and seeing their loved ones. We Americans see past Biden’s fear-mongering rhetoric, and we have had enough.
And do you know what, Mr. Biden? Just because you are telling my family that we are hurting and that we need your help does not mean that we are hurting or that we need your help. It turns out that Americans are good at planning and we know what it takes to combat a pandemic. My family will continue to handle the virus with caution, and we will otherwise resume our normal lives. And we, like most Americans who recover from the pandemic, will do so without allowing politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to control our lives.
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.
My dude, are you serious? Are you pulling my leg right now? Are you joking me dawg? Like I’m glad your brother was fine, but “my 14-year-old not-at-risk brother was fine, therefore everyone is being an alarmist” is a poopoo take that belongs in the trash alongside “the gold standard is actually okay because Trump said so” and “Democrats opposed Amy Coney Barrett, therefore Republicans are better for women.” Your experience is far from representative of the average person who has been affected by “COVD-19 [sic].”
I’m sorry you found my article to be disagreeable. However, as I mentioned in the article, my brother’s experience actually serves to be the majority of the average person affected by COVID-19–consider the statistics I mentioned regarding the death rates of COVID-19–the rate for those below the age of 65 is far lower than that of over 65. Thus, I claim we must adjust accordingly.
Regardless, I appreciate your thoughtful comment and critical feedback.
COVID has taken this year, just since the outbreak, has taken more than 100 years. Look … the lives, it’s just … when you think about it, more lives this year than any other year for the past hundred years.
This is a remarkably tone-deaf article. I’m glad your brother is alright, but you and your family are lucky that he’s not one of the hundreds of thousands already permanently disabled or deceased like four relatives of mine. By the way, my grandfather is a cancer survivor—guess that means cancer’s no biggie!
You seem to have missed the point of my article. While you mention the fact that hundreds of thousands of people have died from COVID-19, I am not disagreeing with you on that aspect. What I ask you to consider is that the reaction to COVID-19 from many politicians is severely unnecessary. I express my deepest condolences for your relatives but that has nothing to do with what I am arguing; that we can react more appropriately to COVID-19 without forcing mandatory shutdowns on millions of Americans. I would appreciate not using unnecessary pathos in your argument—my grandfather passed away two years ago from lung cancer and that doesn’t change anything about lung cancer; we must still duly address the disease with utmost care and investment. Nowhere in the article do I mention that COVID is “no biggie”.
Thanks for the criticism,
Save for a vaccine, which could take months to be rolled out to the general public, how do you expect COVID to be eradicated without government action? We’ve seen that people left to their own devices won’t change their behavior unless they have a good reason to. Also, using your brother as an example is a weird way to argue that government action is too much.
The comparison to heart disease makes no sense. Heart disease is a highly contagious new disease with unknown long-term effects. I’m glad your brother is okay, but that does not make the over 200,000 excess deaths in the US any less serious.
“It turns out that Americans are good at planning and we know what it takes to combat a pandemic.” Where is the evidence for this? America has more cases than any other country, while some places overseas have almost entirely eradicated COVID. Looking at the numbers, it seems that Americans are, in fact, very bad a combatting a pandemic.
Heart disease is not** a highly contagious new disease with unknown long-term effects, excuse me.
Totally agree with the above comment that there isn’t a comparison to be drawn between COVID and heart disease. If heart disease had a clear, direct cause and immediate action by politicians could prevent it from killing 210,000 people, then I’d certainly be expecting them to do something. Managing an infectious disease like COVID is inherently political– just look at pretty much any other high-income country and how they have reduced COVID rates and economic fallout by rapidly implementing policy. Acting like the COVID rates in the US are just an inevitable reality is inaccurate and irresponsible. I, too, am glad that you and your family are doing well, and you’re very lucky your greatest concern was being forced to cancel dinner plans. With a more rapid and decisive response from those dang politicians, hundreds of thousands of Americans would not have lost friends and family members, and maybe you could still have had people over to watch the election.
On the heart disease thing, I agree with the overall point you made there (that COVID and heart disease aren’t comparable), but some of the things you said don’t check out. There are immediate actions that politicians could take to lower rates of heart disease, some of which have already been done, like taxes on soda/cigarettes or bans on trans fats. More could be done too, like levying taxes on junk food, better health education, increasing access to healthcare, etc. The difference is that heart disease is not contagious, getting heart disease does not threaten the health of those around you (at least, not directly), and rates of heart disease are relatively stable, and so in the end, individuals have the right to make their own lifestyle choices. The same is not true for COVID. One could reasonably say “I trust the American people to make their own choices” when it came to heart disease, but such a statement is irresponsible political pandering when it comes to this pandemic.
Yo agreed dawg. Coronavirus has stopped me from getting a lot of pussy, and so has heart disease. You know because my penis legit made your mom have a heart attack last night.
She still argues that Hitler is not a nationalist, but a globalist. This is a point that no academic, nor anyone who knows anything about Nazi Germany, can take seriously. The Nazis were an ultranationalist party and to argue anything else is intellectually dishonest. If we look at the very first point of the NDSAP’s 25 point program it states:
“We demand the union of all Germans to form the Greater Germany on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination enjoyed by the nations.”
The second point:
“We demand equality of rights for the German people in its dealings with other nations; and abolition of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.” Demanding sovereignty for one nationality and disregarding international treaties? Sounds pretty nationalist to me Candace.
I think this website has a glitch. I posted this on a different article and it came up on here for some reason.
First, really glad your brother is doing well. Second, it took me a while to figure out my issue with this article. Honestly, the “don’t overhype the dangers of the virus, instead use calm reason” is a good take. I think the overall issue is that this author anecdotally uses the abilities of his own family to cope with the virus as evidence of the ability of America as a whole. You guys kept it isolated once it was in, good work. Many people in America are taking the “the virus isn’t a big deal” take and running with it. There’s a reason there are hospitals without available beds. As a society, we can only walk as fast as our slowest members.
Look up some of the Jordan Klepper videos because that is… not very fast. Also, as you point, out there are a lot of asymptomatic cases. What if your brother had shown no symptoms and you still had your election party? If you’d like me to believe that the potential trickledown from that event wouldn’t put anyone at risk I’m just not able to. Also, again, the line about Americans knowing what it takes to combat this virus is…
really detached from the reality. We’re doing pretty awfully. There are so many towns without hospital beds available. Anecdotal, but my mother is a psychiatrist and has many patients whose wellbeing is tanking due to a.) losing family members, b.) financial struggle, and c.) stress due to people not wearing masks or keeping distance in public places (because once more… SO MANY AMERICANS DO NOT KNOW HOW TO COMBAT THIS). I would implore you to think about whether your familial situation is actually a good stand in for America (intellectually, financially, etc), and whether or not the vast majority of Americans are *actually* doing enough to handle this virus well.