Substitute COVID-19 for INFLUENZA in the article below, and you sum up how epidemics impact people. – JS.
Riverside Daily Press
18 February 1919
BY RUTH CAMERON
Rocking the Boat
“Well, I’m thankful to say, I’m not so timid about germs. My carcass isn’t quite so valuable to me as all that,” said my neighbor. The “timidity” to which he referred was displayed by two friends of ours who had gotten off a street car because they had heard someone sneezing on it, and had walked home the rest of the way. You notice I put quotes about timidity. That is so that I may leave no doubt that the use of the word was my neighbor’s, not mine. The word I would have used would have been “commonsense.”
But People Know What Sort of a Man He Is
My neighbor’s sneer, “My carcass isn’t quite so valuable to me as all that,” is a common one. And an easy one. And one that show’s him up to thinking people in a far different light from the one he intends to paint himself in. Only a fool thinks in this present crisis, one can live to oneself alone. Not to do everything within reason to avoid catching disease that has already killed as many as fell in this horrible war, is to be absolutely selfish.
You Are Not the Only Sufferer
Suppose you fall sick, are you the only sufferer? Indeed no, either some member of your family must take care of you, running inevitable risk of contagion (have you not noticed how many times it was the member of the family who had taken care of someone else and gotten all tired out, who died of the plague after the original patient had recovered?) or a nurse must be drawn from the too small supply. The doctor, already working night and day, must find time for one more call. And since every person coming down with the influenza is a potential spreader of the disease, you may be responsible for the illness or death of some delicate person who sat beside you in the car.
Be Reasonable But Not Panicky
Of course, it is always a big question where reasonable precautions stop, and where panic begins. If you must go to work you must, and if you can’t walk you will have to ride. But to go unnecessarily where there will be crowds, to stay unnecessarily in the proximity of a sneezing person, to let yourself get needlessly tired, or to be careless about keeping your system cleared out, —is to fail to do your duty to the community as well as to yourself.
To expose yourself for the sake of nursing or otherwise helping the sick is one thing. To do it carelessly in a spirit of bravado is quite another. We admire the man who risks his life to save a drowning man. We don’t admire the man who gets up in a crowded boat and demonstrates his own indifference to death or a dunking by rocking the boat