As a country, we live in two different worlds. It’s not conservative versus liberal. It is more science versus conspiracy.

Conspiracies abound everywhere.

If something can be imagined, it can be expressed as a conspiracy and posted or tweeted. Our conspiracies are more viral than a virus. The enemy of a conspiracy is truth. But how do you find it when wading through mountains of information supplied by the internet?

I long for the glory days of journalism when something had to be vetted before it could be printed or aired. What a concept! As journalism has faded, our country has sunk into a vat of self-proclaimed experts. You can see them on TV, hear them on the radio, or they might have their own blog or podcast. Or maybe they just post and share memes on Facebook and Twitter.

We are being attacked by a virus. Everyone agrees on that – almost. There are some who still think it is a hoax to take down President Trump. Or maybe the Chinese created the virus to take down the president. Or the virus was invented in a lab in the U.S., and then secretly sent to China. Or the virus is just like the flu and no big deal and most of the people that died were going to die anyway. I take that back. We can’t agree.

We should have a shared purpose and a common enemy. But we don’t. Someone called this our “Pearl Harbor” moment, when people all come together, and we are forged as one against a common enemy. Nope. We can’t even agree on wearing masks. For some, it is a badge of honor not to wear a mask. The local hardware and grocery stores in Valley Springs have less than 25% of the people wearing masks. Sometimes it is only 10%. If people think they are going to reopen the economy without taking precautions, wearing masks, sanitizing their hands and things they’ve touched, and ending “stay-at-home,” there is going to be a massive outbreak of Covid-19.

Now everyone wants the economy to open again. Let’s just get on with our lives. Enough is enough. The White House and many governors want to ease restrictions and let people mingle. Except the virus is just waiting for us to get careless. This all is a repeat of the 1918 Spanish Flu (that started in Kansas). They had celebrations for the end of World War I and then immediately had a big spike in virus infections.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a 63-page document with advice from top disease control experts about how to safely reopen businesses and institutions in the middle of a pandemic. This guidance was shelved by the Trump administration. They said it was a draft and not ready to be released. Meanwhile, the White House released their “Opening Up America Again” plan with some of the CDC advice, but excluded advice about having a coordinated national response with step-by-step instructions for Americans on how to re-enter civic life. The idea was that there would be resurgences of the virus if people weren’t careful and what to do if there were flareups. Instead, the Trump administration put the onus for reopening on governors and local officials.

Why are we reopening the economy without full CDC guidelines?

Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that lifting stay-at-home orders too quickly could lead to serious consequences, both in deaths and economic hardship. He predicted viral spikes scattered about the country in careless areas. His report was almost the exact opposite of what the White House is pushing.

Testing is supposed to be the answer. Mitt Romney, always a thorn in Trump’s side, said, “Yesterday you celebrated that we had done more tests and more tests per capita even than South Korea.” He added, “But you ignored the fact that they accomplished theirs at the beginning of the outbreak, while we treaded water during February and March.”

Romney noted that on March 6, the U.S. had completed 2,000 tests while South Korea had done over 140,000 tests. The result is less than 300 deaths for South Korea, while the U.S. has well over 80,000 deaths. Worldwide, the U.S. has a third of all COVID-19 cases and 28% of the deaths, this with only about 4% of the world’s population. Something is terribly wrong.

South Korea not only tested more at the beginning; they did contact tracing. Can you imagine Americans letting the government track where they were and who they met with? Or putting a tracking app on their phone? We have Americans protesting that it is un-American to be forced to stay at home or to avoid going to church. They complain that their freedoms are being taken away. And they aren’t going to wear no stupid mask.

The U.S. model on the impact of the coronavirus now estimates 147,000 deaths by August. On April 27, the model estimated only 74,000 deaths. I think before August, their estimates will double again and again. Stupidity, ignorance and incompetence has its price.

Don Urbanus is a resident and business owner in Burson.

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