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  • Writer's pictureNathan Max

Selfish Nation

Photo Credit: A group calling itself, "Citizens Against Mask Mandates" protesting in July in Tulsa, Okla.

America is a place where individual freedom takes precedence over the collective good, and the disastrous consequences of our selfish national mentality have become clear.

The United States is cascading toward catastrophe. One could easily argue we are already there. But instead of pulling together, large numbers of Americans inexplicably continue to do everything in their power to make the crisis worse.

As more than 90,000 people were hospitalized as a result of a COVID-19 infection this weekend, Americans ignored the CDC, packed airports and traveled home for the holiday. Approximately 1.07 million people were screened at airports Wednesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Sadly, all those happy family gatherings on Thanksgiving Day will directly lead to thousands of solemn funerals by Christmas.

Hospitals are bursting at the seams, while exhausted doctors and nurses are already burned out. More than 265,000 Americans have died since March, and the worst is yet to come. The next three months will very likely be the darkest time most of us ever face.

Our current predicament is so sad, because it is so easily preventable. The simple act of wearing a mask would save tens of thousands of lives, yet people refuse to do it. On social media, conspiracy-theory Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene takes it one step further, promoting a movement to, “free your face.”

Instead of promoting responsible behavior this Thanksgiving, such as limiting gatherings, Republicans pushed the narrative that coming together in large numbers was a good way to own the libs. Is it any surprise that some of the reddest states, like North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Florida, have the highest infection rates?

Donald Trump spent weeks before the election bringing his mostly maskless supporters together by the thousands in tight spaces. What happened? Infection rates spiked.

Poor leadership is partially to blame on many fronts. Even the most responsible governors have tripped up by not following their own rules. But there is only so much leaders can do if the populace is unwilling to follow, or too weary to comply with public safety measures.

In California, where youth sports have been shut down since March, teams are driving to less-restrictive Arizona to play. Not coincidentally, University of Arizona researchers on Friday sent a letter to the state’s health department warning that if it doesn’t take drastic action immediately -- including a three-week stay-at-home shutdown -- its hospitals face certain disaster.

Many other states, particularly ones run by science-averse Republicans, are in the same boat. Triaging patients, like medical staff would do in a war zone, is not far off.

The two basic tenants of virus economics are you must shut down the economy, so people don’t spread the disease, and you must provide enough financial support, so citizens and businesses can make it through to the other side. We now face a situation in which our government is unwilling to do either, and extreme virus fatigue has set in on the population.

Thankfully, vaccines are on the way, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, if we don’t change our behavior, and all indications are we won’t, hundreds of thousands more people will die. Vaccine distribution won’t occur in large quantities until spring at the earliest. Even then, the growing number of anti-vaxxers in this country will surely stifle our attempts to achieve true herd immunity.

It didn’t have to be this way, but this is who we are. This is why it was so difficult to pass the Affordable Care Act, and why Republicans have been fighting so hard for 10 years to dismantle it. This is why so many support removing any-and-all assistance for the less fortunate.

This is a nation of every-man-for-himself, and it has been for decades. The days when Americans were capable of coming together for a cause, or for their fellow man, are behind us.

This virus has exposed exactly what we have become.


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