It’s time to dance again
It's been over a year since the alarm was first sounded. On Friday, January 31, 2020 President Donald Trump's administration issued a ban on travel from China:
“Foreign nationals other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have traveled in China in the last 14 days will be denied entry into United States.”
Earlier that week, officials said that Americans who evacuated from Wuhan earlier in the week would be quarantined for up to 14 days at March Air Reserve Base in California — the first mandatory quarantine order in the U.S. in 50 years, according to NPR. On Thursday, January 30 of that week, the World Health Organization declared COVID a global health emergency. Another month of monitoring and fact-finding went by before WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Think about that.
In my state of Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam rapidly moved to respond. The next day, March 12, he declared a state of emergency that implemented:
Ban on State Employee Travel and Implementation of Telework Policies
Ban on Public Gatherings and Large Events - "In accordance with advice from state public health experts, the Commonwealth of Virginia will cancel all specially-scheduled state conferences and large events for a minimum of 30 days." Counties and cities were encouraged to review their own pandemic preparedness.
Five days later on March 17, Northam issued his second executive order related to COVID. That began a slew of ever-expanding EOs whose communicated purpose was to contain the virus and stop the spread.
Two months later (think about that), Northam issued a state-wide mask mandate, on Friday, May 29. Six months later, on Sunday, November 15, he extended and broadened the mask mandate, lowering the age from 10 to five years of age who must wear a mask (in spite of consistent findings that children rarely transmit the virus). Apparently the failure of masks to contain the virus over those six months was the fault of six to nine year olds?
Every attempt to stop the virus with masks, lockdowns, social distancing and quarantines failed. Every single one. Let's not miss that.
Masks or no masks, the virus virused.
Now consider this. Whether Americans lived in a state with repressive lockdowns (California, New York, Virginia) and had statewide mask mandates, closed schools, inhibited businesses and closed indoor dining... OR NOT... the pattern was the exact same. The numbers and percentages of people who got the virus, the stunning fraction of people who died from it, and the amount of cases were spastically the same (and in some shocking ways better in open states).
Let’s revisit hospitalizations in The Science™ following states like Illinois, New Jersey, New York & California vs. DeathSantis’s Florida, shall we?
Yup, after DeSantis ACTUALLY followed science & Fauci said he was “asking for trouble”, they’ve done consistently better pic.twitter.com/x7QiqLuyHb
— IM (@ianmSC) December 14, 2020
In fact, the strategies foisted on us by Dr. Fauci and others just didn't work:
California, Florida show similar COVID trends despite different policies - Fox, 2/16/2021
Two states, two VERY different COVID tactics - Daily Mail, 1/22/2021
Vindication for Ron DeSantis - Wall Street Journal, 3/5/2021
The reality distortion bubble has popped. Shortly after Joe Biden became the 46th President, politicians who had previously been in favor of closed schools, businesses and lockdowns suddenly became advocates of reopening. Strangely, the WHO changed guidelines for effective COVID tests on inauguration day, January 20, 2021, and as a result, cases have since dropped dramatically.
All movement pointed to one thing. It's time to significantly readjust and return to normal life. Bad decisions were made in a confusing time, and the momentum of those decisions led us here.
"Therefore, focusing on just one number—an overall mortality rate—does no one any good. Using it, policymakers have implemented a one-size-fits-none set of public health measures that over-restrict younger people who are relatively safe and under-support those at gravest danger, all while reaping economic and societal damage on all Americans.
Had health experts and lawmakers made decisions based on mortality by age and existing health status, they might have adopted a segmented national health policy, one designed to save the most lives possible without inflicting undue psychological harm on those who are at minimal risk.
Instead, they acted on the wrong set of data, underscoring a dangerous truth: Statistics can be both factual and misleading." (Dr. Robert Pearl, Stanford University, Forbes, September 22, 2020)
Even in California...
A recent update from a friend who lives in California and attends John Macarthur's Grace Covenant Church shared this:
"It's also wild going to worship service as normal on Sunday---no distance, no masks this whole time---with ~6000 others and being fine. Yes, we have had some families get the 'VID, and they've made it through and are fine. The Lord has taken a couple of people home with complications due to COVID, but I can't say it's any worse than any other season in the past. Given the hysteria, you surely would think that a 6000-member church that has been worshipping together regularly for eight months now with no enforced masks or distancing would be the center of a massive outbreak... but we're not. Either the Lord is protecting us or the world is way overreacting to COVID. (I think both are happening.) I did the math from US annual death rates, and a church this size should have about 1 member die per week during any normal year. That's about where we're at, and they haven't all been COVID-related, either."
Something is up.
We all know it by now. Things don't make sense. Wear a mask to walk into a restaurant and order, and then you can take it off when you get to your table. I've seen people riding bikes with no one around wearing a mask. People running in a mask. Plexiglass shields installed at stores and schools. All for naught.
It's been a colossal exercise in ignorance. It's been devastating for our health - not because of COVID - but because of the emotional, psychological, mental and relational toll it's all taken. It's divided us. It's polarized. People have not been able to visit loved ones in the hospital during hard, dark moments. While protests numbered in the thousands during 2020, others were prevented by governors EOs from attending funerals, weddings, graduations, and sports events.
It's been a year. We tried, and our high-falutin, high-tech, sophisticated, educated, science-bending, elites have failed us all. It's not just "them."
We failed one another. We allowed a crisis and a contentious election season to dehumanize us. We canceled one another. We blamed. We cocooned. We embraced fear and suspicion. We cultivated and nourished lies about how we all really hate one another and especially people of different color. We broke down. We ranted and posted and yelled and threw bricks.
We were forced to look ourselves in the face and see the most fundamental flaw of our own nature. We are human. We are finite. We are selfish and sinful.
The 21st century came, and 20 years in, we thought we were gods. We thought we couldn't be felled by a virus. We thought we were smart. We thought we could stop a virus with bandannas and solve our lives with censorship.
In the end, it was all vanity. The saner among us woke up. We realized we weren't "woke," but that we had fallen asleep and while we dozed, the devil danced.
It was time to quit thinking we were our own saviors and turn to the only One Who Is - Jesus.
It's an old invitation, but it's still open to all who would respond:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus is not a trite solution. He is the true Savior. We must use whatever means we have to alleviate suffering and treat the sick, but let's not forget that ultimately, all our days are numbered. We could vaccinate today and drop dead tomorrow from an aneurism. Safety and health and control are an illusion.
We will experience a higher quality of life and peace with God and others by trusting Jesus. He is the only Expert whose voice matters for all time.
I love this glimpse of a setting sun and a parade of the sick found in Luke. "Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them." (Luke 4:40) In the parallel account in Matthew, we're told, "This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 'He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.'” (Matthew 8:17)
It's been a year.
Folks, it's been a year. No matter what we've done, the virus has claimed lives. Masks or no masks. Lockdowns or none. It's been humbling and depressing. Many want to blame authorities and see a conspiracy theory or broader narrative behind every motive and EO. It's tempting because they try to weave disparate realities into a metanarrative. But can we just.. not right now?
Can we simply say... it's time to live again? We can't keep pretending masks and superficial mitigation efforts have worked. It's been a year.
At the same time, we HAVE to quit being ostriches about the threat of COVID to us and our families. It has a 99.7% survival rate. The morality rate is miniscule. We've succumbed to fear. We've listened and promoted the most strident, apocalyptic voices. We've played along.
Marriages are suffering. Our children are confused. Families and churches and schools are in conflict and disarray. Suicide, abuse, anxiety, depression, mental anguish and outright despair are prospering. While we slept, the devil danced.
Jesus called Satan a thief and said that he "comes only to steal and kill and destroy." (John 10:10) Satan has certainly done that to us all. Look at what he's stolen! But Jesus offers a better way. He said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
It's time to breathe and dance again.
Breathe the fresh air - outside, in Kroger, wherever. Announce with your maskless face that you will not contribute any longer to a charade that is a lying narrative. Smile. Hug a friend. Be patient with those who are slower to accept and see it. Pray. Go to church. Be gracious. It took a year for us to get into this mess, and it will take longer to get out.
Some day soon, official mask mandates will begin ending. There will be many who, when faced with the suddenness of it, will continue to wear masks. Let them. Give them space and grace.
For all of us though, it's time to dance again. Life is good when you know the Author of it. His name is Jesus, and He offers abundant life.