This morning, I went to the Kellogg Cancer Center at Evanston Hospital for a blood draw. While I am thankful not to have cancer, I know that others in the waiting room do. They are likely immune suppressed and sitting ducks for Covid-19. But rather than being extra careful, the hospital and some people coming to the center act as if we are not in the midst of a pandemic. The hospital made some effort by having socially distanced circles on the floor by the registration desk and by removing some chairs in the small lobby so patients are sitting six feet apart, but this is not nearly enough.
As I entered, I saw that the very sweet woman who reads the standard questions and checks your temperature was located close to the entrance. So, I waited in the inner lobby until the person ahead of me had finished checking in and had moved on to the registration desk. As soon as I approached the check-in person, a man entered behind me and stood by my side. “Are you together?” she asked. “No,” I replied as I moved as far from this man as space permitted. Rather than asking him to move, the woman decided she could save time by reading the questions to both of us at the same time and checking our temperatures in rapid succession. As I left after my blood draw, I observed the same scenario. Two women entered at the same time. The second one not was not only too preoccupied with her phone to wait in the inner lobby. She was also too busy to take her mask out of her fancy purse to put it on until after she entered the waiting room.
I wondered if anyone had thought about the safety of this check-in and waiting area beyond plopping the circles in front of the registration desk. It would not be too hard to block off the entrance to the main waiting room and divert people entering the Kellogg Cancer Center to a side lobby, with socially distanced markings leading up to the check-in person. From there, patients could proceed to the socially distanced dots for registering. I tried explaining this to a disinterested young man in the hospital’s safety department. I’m sure my complaint went into the circular file — another senior snowflake.
On my way home, I stopped at a 7–11 store for one item. The sign on the entrance read “Masks Required,” but the man checking out was not wearing one, disrespecting and potentially endangering the people shopping as well as the clerk. I waited for him to leave, got my item, and asked the clerk if he felt safe waiting on the man. He explained that there were many people who didn’t wear masks in the store every day, and he was afraid to confront them. He also feared catching Covid-19, but he is an essential worker who needs a paycheck.
What’s wrong with the large percentage of people in our country who can’t follow three simple rules: Wear a mask. Be socially distant. Wash your hands. We need to look no further than the example set by Trump. I doubt that having caught Covid-19 himself, and having it spread like the California wildfires through his unmasked White House staff and his guests at the unmasked and crowded Rose Garden celebration of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination will make him more of a believer in following the science. If he didn’t care that Herman Cain died from the virus he contracted at one of his rallies, if he didn’t care that the Secret Service people and their families will now have to quarantine and hope for the best to enable him to ride around the block outside of Walter Reed Hospital, I have no reason to think that anything about his illness will change the person he is.
I’m sure he is lying about how sick he was/is. He wants us to believe that Covid-19 is no big deal, that it is no worse than a bad cold, and that he is a tough guy. Do we really think that a president who won’t share when he tested positive, didn’t have the courtesy to inform Joe Biden of his illness once he was, didn’t initiate contact tracing for people who attended his most recent events and for his own White House staff, and who likely knowingly infected his own donors at Thursday’s fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, will change? Will become empathic? Will set a good example for his followers going forward?
In his dramatic return to the White House from Walter Reed, after he ripped off his mask, Trump declared, “Don’t let it [Covid-19] dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.” Tell that to the families of the 210,000 Americans who have died from the disease. Then he entered our house and exposed every person working there to the virus. The fact that several White House staff members and workers have already tested positive didn’t matter to him.
Journalist Anand Giridharadas sums up Trump’s attitude in The Illness he is published in The.ink:
“He hosted a super-spreader event to honor a justice who would have the government control your body but refuse the duty to care for it, and when the virus he helped go around came around, he availed of the healthcare he would deny others, financed by the taxes he refuses to pay.”
I know people are tired of the pandemic. They want to return to normal life. Believe me, so do I. But when people refuse to follow those three simple rules, they are making a clear statement: I don’t care about other people. Like toddlers, like Trump, they are saying, “I want what I want,” and snatching the health and wellbeing of others like the toys they covet. I don’t expect Trump and his dedicated followers to change, even after his illness. But what about you?