Public Health - why ignoring conspiracy theories and following COVID protocols is a priority.
We need pro-science, evidence-based policy and critical thinking, because this is the way to keep all citizens protected - in death as well as in life.
Some Gentle Readers will be familiar with incredibly popular and pro-education mortician, funeral home owner, and death positive advocate Caitlin Doughty; if you are not, I do recommend her sites and work. Caitlin has worked tirelessly over several years to offer videos and books which bring historical accuracy, modern innovations, and some personal humour to the facts of death, and one of her hallmarks is a calm, wry interpretation of social responses around death. Usually... This is her latest video:
In Australia we have been incredibly fortunate with the COVID pandemic, but what is happening in the USA stands as a sobering lesson on the importance of maintaining science and evidence-based thinking and not depending on open slather privatisation and capitalism. One unfortunate parallel to poor federal government oversight and policy in terms of COVID - both in the USA with Trump and here in Australia under the current LNP government which has sidestepped all accountability in favour of the states - is that conspiracy theories have run rampant. Anti-vaxxers merged with 5G-phobic, microchip fearing anti-science idiots and became a denialist juggernaut that combines 'human rights' with a denial of public health practices.
This is incredibly dangerous, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us in any society - this is not automatically older persons, by the way. People of colour, First Nations peoples, migrants, those who live with disabilities, pregnant bodies (COVID can cross the placenta) and those with pre-existing health conditions are all populations who are put at risk when mainstream, privileged, generally healthy people decide 'feck it! I only need to think about myself!'. Don't be selfish. Practice recommended precautions: wear a mask, practice physical distance (2 metres or so - if you live in Australia keep a full-grown kangaroo, or four platypuses between you and everyone around you, including behind you), wash your hands regularly, isolate if you suspect contagion and test.
Wearing a mask saves lives - not because it helps keep you the wearer from acquiring the novel coronavirus, but because the mask significantly lowers the risk that you will transmit COVID if you yourself have it. Masks keep other people around us safer.
Physical distance (a well-documented and free-to-use technique for minimising transmission of infectious diseases we have used for centuries) further lowers the chances of transmission with airborne viruses.
Wash your hands regularly - the COVID virus lives for an estimated 3 days on plastic and metal, and 12 hours on material. Regular handwashing, and use of hand sanitisers when you cannot wash up (because you are out shopping for food, for example) helps limit the spread of the virus. Only touch what you intend to purchase and prevent young children from running around yelling and touching things in public spaces.
Getting tested if you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed, then self-isolating until you get the test results also helps protect those around you.
Remember: you can have COVID and be asymptomatic - that means you do NOT show any signs of infection. Basically you are a silent carrier, and you will shed viral load wherever you go, potentially infecting dozens of people at any one time you are in public or around others.
I have friends, colleagues, clients, and connections in the USA as well as in many other countries around the world. The stories I have heard of the struggles with lockdown (talk to anyone from Melbourne who did 8 months of isolation in hard lockdown and you will get a sense of what some countries have undergone), the deaths, the long-haul COVID symptoms, the toll COVID has taken on their communities and families.
Here at GDEP you will always hear me support compassion, kindness, community, and professional best practice. Students in my course know that one of the first videos actually addresses the importance of public health and maintaining best practice standards, both for practitioners and clients alike - so you know I am concerned with community health and wellbeing as a priority. Wherever you are in the world, please be kind to those around you, because I don't think any of us want COVID, or would wish to know we had spread COVID to those around us. Unfortunately as the vaccine rollouts are only in their early stages, and we will probably not be 'normal' in our communities and lives until 2022, we will need to take care of ourselves and each other in terms of contagion protocols for some time yet.
And, on a fun historical note, we may end up just like western society did after the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19. In the 20s "cuddle parties" - aka "petting parties" - were all the rage as people revelled in being able to touch, spend time in physical proximity, and express affection with more than words at a distance.
Be safe, and be considerate. We can all practice kindness in what we do to keep each other safe and supported in community.