As we all know, President Trump has tested positive for, and has been hospitalized with, COVID-19. As I write this, he appears to have responded well to treatment, and has been released from the hospital.

You can judge for yourself the snickering delight of the chattering media, and some Democrats, at his positive test, and those of other GOP politicians. This is perhaps understandable, although those who are actively pulling for their death are behaving in a very ugly manner.

But rather than dwelling on that, I am writing about how versions of what we have seen with the President, his staff, and others around them are being re-enacted across the country in schools and in businesses.

There has, for example, been an outbreak within the Tennessee Titans. I think it very unlikely that the Titans’ management have been lackadaisical in their enforcement of testing and safety protocols, all of which are mandated by the NFL. This is not to say that some players haven’t been careless.

And that’s the point. It doesn’t take massive resistance to safety measures to create a problem. It just takes a few miscreants, who expose others around them; and then the issue snowballs.

Professional football players, politicians, and other public figures are really not much different from those of us who work in a variety of environments.

I’m talking about those who work in factories, business offices, government offices, schools, and service establishments like restaurants or retail stores. They all have in common with one another the keen desire to meet deadlines, attend essential meetings, and serve customers whose needs have not stopped because there is a pandemic. We are all under pressure, to a greater or lesser extent, to show up and get the job done.

Inevitably, someone is going to take a chance. That someone will place himself or herself around others. And that chance, if it goes wrong, morphs from an individual issue to an issue for a whole group of people or even an entire business, and beyond, to those who have had dealings with that business.

We know the foregoing is true. We read of it every day in the newspaper; we see it on television; we hear about it at work. And, people being people, we shouldn’t expect this story to stop repeating itself. At some point, the pandemic will burn itself out. Or we will get a vaccine. Or both. Until then, outbreaks, large or small, are going to happen.

The effects of risk-taking bleeds over from work or business to recreation. Many folks I know are still taking trips. They are staying in hotels or rental properties at the beach, or around tourist sites, or near sporting events. I’m timid about doing something like that at this time. But many are not.

Indeed, my observation is that most people will do what they really want to do, and declare what they have done is safe. Some of the same people will turn around and express horror at what others have done. The difference? Only in priorities.

Thus we see people who insist on working remotely because they feel unsafe at the office but taking trips to remote venues to shop, to dine, to tour. They aren’t insincere in their fear. They just overcome it when they want something badly enough.

The grim reality is that nothing is foolproof. Even those who take precautions may be exposed to the virus. No precaution is completely effective; no test is 100% accurate. That doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to use precautions. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t avail ourselves of testing. But no one should imagine he or she has found a foolproof method of avoiding infection. There isn’t any.

Oh, I suppose it might be possible to drastically curtail risk by going nowhere, doing nothing, and actually isolating oneself. But no one does that. Some pretend to, but they don’t. Not really.

And even to the extent they do, they can’t really isolate. They must eat. They must purchase other necessities. What if they have it all delivered? But what if the person making the delivery sneezes on the package?

The bottom line is that we all have to make our own risk assessments, weigh the risks against the benefits, and use judgment in deciding what is safe to do and what is not. I understand that this may require making difficult decisions.

But don’t be foolhardy. And don’t selfishly expose others.


Originally published in the Kingsport (TN) Times-News.