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                   Tuesday, November 17, 2020

On conservatives and coronavirus

By DAN ROBINSON
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I continue to be the odd man out in all of my various peer groups when it comes to COVID-19. Back in March when New York City was bringing in dozens of refrigerated 18-wheelers and digging mass graves to hold bodies, my concern about that happening to the rural residents of the Great Plains got me excommunicated from the storm chasing community after I threatened to report those willfully breaking state quarantine orders or travel bans. Now, as St. Louis hospitals reach capacity and we go back into near-lockdown restrictions here, it's my fellow conservatives who I'm finding myself nearly completely out of alignment with on the virus.

I get that the media and politicians take advantage of anything and everything to push whatever agendas they want. That's why I don't listen to them *at all* when trying to figure out the truth on any number of issues. When it comes to COVID, I'm only interested in the opinions of actual doctors, nurses and healthcare workers and don't for a second care about what anyone else says about it. Conservatives rightly are distrustful of the media (as everyone should be) but in some type of reverse-psychology phenomenon, it seems conservatives *are* listening to the media to make decisions and form opinions: they just do and believe the *exact opposite* of whatever the media or Democrats are saying.

Just because the media and politicians are working overtime to spin whatever they can about COVID-19 doesn't mean that the underlying event - the pandemic - isn't happening and/or isn't very serious. What is the expectation here? Is the idea that some disaster or tragedy could happen and the media *wouldn't* report on it? Is that would it would take for conservatives to believe something, that the media would just downplay it or stay silent on it? My view is, who cares what the media says! They don't deserve to be a factor in formulating a worldview AT ALL, either positively or negatively.

It seems very obvious to me that the loss of the presidency this election falls squarely on the way conservatives have chosen to downplay the pandemic. Most reasonable people who are non-partisan see the defiant anti-mask, pro-close-contact-mass-gatherings in bars, restaurants and dare I say churches even - as simply insane, every bit as unhinged as open borders, critical race theory, defunding the police, intersectionality, Marxism and all of the typical trappings of the political left. In this case, more swing voters simply decided that even the left's more extreme ideas were more tolerable than the conservatives' "we aren't going to do *anything* differently" approach to COVID-19.

Let's take the issue of masks. I read a lot of medical experts who say that masks are at least somewhat effective at slowing the spread of the virus, and they have data and evidence to back that up. I also see a few that say that masks *don't* work so well, and they *also* have supporting data. So as a dumb non-medical-field guy, what am I going to do? Do I say, "so it's at worst 50-50 that masks work, I guess it's worth it to just wear one" or do I say "I'm *one hundred percent* certain that masks *don't* work, so I refuse to wear one, ever".

What percentage confidence is enough to be actionable? Suppose a new restaurant opened in town and everyone raved about how good it was, with one caveat: 10 percent of the people who eat there get the most violent case of food poisoning of their lives, sleeping on their bathroom floor for a week. Would a 10 percent chance of that happening be enough to make you not eat at that place?

I'm not saying let's do hard lockdowns again. I know our economy can't survive that, and the effects from one could be as bad or worse than the uncontrolled virus. But by doing simple things like wearing a mask in public places, having Bible studies via Zoom, not going to packed restaurants or huge family gatherings etc - we clearly could have been in a much better spot right now, and conservatives, you might have found yourselves with a more favorable result on November 3.

Having said that, I can only hope that I still have friends once this pandemic is over.

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