LETTER TO THE EDITOR: When did the ‘freedom to infect’ become a right?

With a 32 percent vaccination rate here in Stanly County, is it any surprise that cases of Covid-19 have risen 94 percent from the end of last week?

Remember Operation Warp Speed?

Last December, the former president proudly noted that his administration had provided a total of $14 billion for the development of these vaccines, and spearheaded their rapid availability.

Going from identification of a new virus in January to wide availability of an effective, safe vaccine in the span of a year is a credit to many dedicated scientists working around the clock and risking their own safety to produce it.

When even the former president praised the launch of these new vaccines, how has so much misinformation about them been allowed to dominate public health decisions? How has refusal to get the vaccine or wear masks become a badge of honor? When did the “freedom to infect” become a right? How is it happening that current rates of Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths are showing stark differences based on political affiliation?

I’m confident that there are many others like me in the community who are angry and frustrated about the proliferation of misinformation around this virus, and the effects of that on everyone’s life. I am also livid at public officials who encourage, plead, urge and bribe people with prizes to get vaccines and to follow basic public health precautions.

Since when has public health guidance been provided based on public opinion instead of evidence-based practice?

Stop being intimidated by loud, misinformed voices. It’s past time to bring back mandates. If not getting a vaccine is a personal choice, then, fine; practicing basic safety precautions while out in public should be required, with penalties for noncompliance.

If smoking is banned in restaurants as a benefit to public health, surely requiring masks in public places is not such a stretch.

Following basic healthcare precautions is not a political statement, but a simple, responsible way to protect ourselves, others in the community and especially our precious children who remain highly vulnerable to this virus. I strongly urge those in the community who are resisting basic safety precautions to get straight advice from a trusted health care provider.

Second, get information from trusted sources rather than from anonymous comments posted on Facebook or some other social media site, or obvious political sites with an axe to grind. Medlineplus.gov is a website sponsored by the National Library of Medicine which contains health information from reputable, peer-reviewed sources.

The public needs to hear alternatives to the strident voices proclaiming their right to avoid simple health precautions in the name of “freedom.” To quote writer David Frum in a recent op-ed: “Yes, I’m very sorry that so many of the unvaccinated are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions. I’m also very sorry that the responsible rest of us are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions.”

Anne Lipe