I feel for Rachel Steward, R.N., who wants us to be able to get on with our lives (“Don’t give in to panic over virus,” letter, Sept. 3). That is an understandable response to a pandemic. Unfortunately, it is not a sensible one. One person’s pursuit of liberty and happiness could very well interfere with another person’s right to life.

Steward tells us that the death rate for COVID-19 cases is “only 3%.” This is accurate. But this also means that as the virus progresses, a person who knows 100 people could lose three to COVID-19. Such a loss would be devastating. The death rate is much lower for influenza, which in 2018-2019 was 0.1%.

Hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes is commendable and necessary. But it is not enough. We know that people can spread the virus even when they have no symptoms. That is why the CDC recommends masks as well as social distancing.

It is regrettable that last spring we did not immediately focus on how we would reopen the schools. It seems that opening schools is more vital than having dozens of friends and family at your wedding. And it is certainly more vital than being able to eat at a restaurant or to go out to a bar to drink with friends.

I take sensible precautions in my life, without a second thought. I buckle my seat belt, look over my shoulder when changing lanes, and wear sensible shoes when I walk. Let’s save the word liberty for something deeper, more meaningful. Wearing a mask is not life changing for the wearer, but it could save someone’s life.

Sally Melcher-McKeagney, R.N.


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