Stop the incarceration of America

We all suffer some form of professional bias.  If you run a weight loss clinic, you might feel as if the whole world is morbidly obese because that is what you see.  (Might be true.)  If you are a mental health therapist, you might think the whole world is neurotic or psychotic.  If you are a policeman accustomed to arresting criminals, you often have a jaded eye and are wary of the public.  As an example, a policeman friend of mine, when eating at a restaurant, insists on being seated at a table against an outside wall.  He locates his position at the table so that he has a full view of the entrance.  He tries not to be too obvious that he is always, seemingly casually, scanning the dining room and entrance for any suspicious behavior.

Physicians are as prone to bias as anyone else.  I have had several COVID-19 patients, and all have survived.  Only one has lingering symptoms.  But the vast majority of my practice is healthy, and my outlook tends to be "healthy."  We see a lot of reports about beleaguered critical care doctors and nurses taking care of the morbidly and mortally ill COVID-19 patients, and our sympathy and respect for these professionals is genuine.  I wish their anguish could be alleviated.  I imagine that these caretakers have a gut feeling that the whole world is dying from this scourge.  But it is not.  We are now on the downside of this pandemic, and we must not continue to spread terror to the public.  It is time to free all of America from incarceration.

I have a law enforcement analogy to demonstrate our current state.  If you live near a prison and a murderous felon escapes, a general call is made to the public to go home, lock the doors, and stay inside, admitting no intruders.  Sometimes the police go door to door to enforce this edict for the common good.  We gladly comply to restrict our freedom for the sake of curtailing this threat.  Once the criminal is apprehended, we demand our freedom back.

What we have now is slightly different.  It is like living in a dense population area, and the police have announced that they have arrested the worst street criminals.  But because there could be and probably are other criminals on the street, waiting for victims, everyone should remain locked up at home to prevent these potential crimes.  Some are allowed a work release program  but must return to confinement every day.  We are told we cannot return to normal until all of these would-be criminals are found and eliminated.  Of course, that is impossible.

We need to release the incarcerated normal Americans.  Most Americans are smart enough to avoid dangerous places where the felons (virus) lurk by careful social distancing.  And there is safety in numbers  (eventual herd immunity).  And don't forget concealed carry (personal protection equipment — PPE) as the last defense.

But is it safe to release the public?  Some people will be accosted.  There will always be some bad guys and bad viruses.  We cannot change that; it is the cost of freedom.

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