A societal virus: the secondary effects of America’s response


Nol Beckley

Throughout Allen County, public parks were closed because of COVID-19 concerns. The county started relaxing shelter-in-place measures on May 4.

The stay-at-home order needs to end. Businesses need to reopen. Students need to return to school.

There, I said it: a handful of controversial words warranting accusations of a disregard for human life and selfishness on my part. Words that are considered “dangerous” and “immoral” in the current world we find ourselves in. Words that are torn to shreds on Twitter and manipulated by mainstream media. 

I don’t use those words lightly or with ignorance. Much of my quarantine has been spent glued to my TV, scrolling through Twitter, absorbing as much news as possible to stay informed and aware of the latest coronavirus updates. 

But the more I watch the news, the more strongly these words to reopen ring to me as truth: the treatment can’t be worse than the virus itself.


Collateral Damage 

57,397 Hoosiers filed for unemployment last week. 75,483 Hoosiers filed for unemployment the week before. 118,184 the week before.

Just as the virus has reached Allen County, so have the economic repercussions. Neighbors, classmates, and co-workers are without jobs, bills piling up, and refrigerators in need of restocking without any means to support themselves.

I can’t help but wonder what will prove to be more catastrophic in the end: the virus or the economic fallout it causes. 

But it’s not just our economy. 

According to Fort Wayne’s WPTA 21, domestic violence crimes in the city are currently down with fewer numbers reported following the governor’s stay-at-home order. At face value, this seems like good news.

But what happens when people can’t leave their homes? When coworkers aren’t there for one another? When students don’t have teachers and coaches to report suspicions? The numbers go down. Fewer cases are reported. And just like that, domestic violence is underreported and falsely identified as a non-issue in the midst of something much greater. 

Home isn’t a safe haven for everyone. For some, quarantining is more dangerous than the invisible enemy that lies beyond the compound of their four walls. There is another vulnerable population out there and the longer a stay-home-at order is enforced, the longer they remain in the lion’s den. 

Liberties Violated

I went on a bike ride the other day and happened to pass by a park on my way there. Where there should have been giggling children and tumbling toddlers, there was instead silence save for a sign: “Playground closed. Governor’s order.” 

Freedom to assemble violated. 

In California on April 25, three men were arrested while protesting the restrictions planned for the state’s phased reopening that prohibit sunbathing on the beach. Police were involved after the three men moved away from the sidewalk and into the sand. 

Freedom to protest limited. 

There is a threat to public health out there, yes, but the Constitution still remains. A mother should be able to bring her child to a playground to burn some energy. Doctors should be able to speak their truths. Locals should be able to walk the beach. 

The coronavirus should not be able to infect our Constitution. 

Patriotic Procrastination

We initially isolated to “flatten the curve” out of concern for the hospitals.

Look around: aside from the densely populated New York City, are the hospitals swamped? Are there lines out the door? Are the beds full? 

We flattened the curve. It’s time to transition back to normalcy. 

Now, I know the counter-argument: “the curve is flattened because we social-distanced.” And that is 100 percent correct. 

But we can’t stay at home forever. We can’t stay in our homes for a year on end, crossing our fingers for a vaccine that isn’t even certain while our workforce scrambles to pay for groceries, our children stare at screens to make up for lost schooling, and our constitutional liberties are slowly taken from us. 

Sheltering in place is procrastinating a battle this country will eventually have to fight. 

It’s time to send out the healthy.