We often see suggestions that since a decent number of people survive Covid-19 infection without death or visible disability, people least at risk should not be subject to information that could cause them undue concern.
The problem is, this attitude slides quickly into complacency.
If we accept this frame of the likelihood of mild outcomes at face value, arguments against “fear mongering” can make intuitive sense. But “fear mongering” is a hyperbolic interpretation of calls for precaution which betrays an interest in inaction over wellbeing.
And this disease does not simply stop at the low risk individual. It moves on to friends, family, strangers… and on again from them. And it finds the individuals for whom heightened concern is very warranted.
Complacency on the part of those who are at low risk serves only to increase the hazard to those who are not at low risk. Even minimizers admit the disease is problematic for the latter but do not seem to see how coddling low risk individuals directly causes downstream harm.
The year New Brunswick Public Health was done with pandemic management.
The year the public followed suit and embraced the comfortable lie that the pandemic was behind them.
Covid-19 cause four times more deaths than 2020 and 2021 combined. pic.twitter.com/imzWIzB665
— Chris (@HallwayOrchard) February 2, 2023
What seems like a benign plea for sober language is far less innocuous than they make it out to be. It serves to foster carelessness which increases risk to others. These things are self evident upon a deeper analysis of individual inaction.
It begs mentioning that this frame of “low risk” also does not take into account long covid, the loss of caregivers, the financial impacts of lost wages/employment, or the long term vascular impacts of even mild cases.
Language matters. Seeking to indulge complacency serves no purpose other than to justify the inaction of the individual. It is an untenable position in the context of the pandemic, where individual decisions are not limited to individual consequence.
This article previously appeared on popnb.substack.com on January 31, 2023. PoP NB (Protect our Province New Brunswick) is a grassroots organization that is volunteer driven by parents and community members with the goal to create easy-to-access information on SARS-CoV-2 / Covid risks and protection measures.