I was troubled by yet another frivolous lawsuit that is making news in Wisconsin. A coalition of Catholic schools, parents, and wealthy benefactors plan to hire a law firm to challenge an order issued late Friday to close all schools in Dane County to in-person instruction for students in grades 3-12. The reason for such an action by the county to stem the pandemic and further infections meets the demands of science and data. The move towards a lawsuit is yet one more example of how far removed some are from not only science but also history.
The combination of infections and idiocy go hand-in-hand over the far reaches of recorded history. This weekend I was reading about the bubonic plague which struck Moscow in 1770. The death toll reached as high as 800 cases per day in the city, and yet the inability of people to adhere to what was then known about the plague is not so hard to believe, given what we witness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The imposition of medical precautions was then scorned, and many even thought physicians and medicines had brought forth the plague. Conspiracy theories are nothing new.
The city residents refused to obey orders forbidding them to gather in market places and churches and to stop kissing supposedly miraculous icons. People would gather to kiss and slobber over an icon of Mary. Crowds swarmed around her feet and history proves this became the deadliest center of the contagion in the city.
Today we know how to stem infections and the spread of a virus that has, of this posting, killed over 175,000 Americans. Our nation has 4% of the population and 25% of the cases. But last night I read some of the comments on twitter regarding the state health department’s releases of Saturday case numbers of COVID and was reminded once again how citizens can be so removed from facts, data, and science. It was as if they sat down at the computer and tried to spin a narrative that all was fine if only those pesky leaders in the state would stop talking about a pandemic. If we do not talk about it all goes away!
The residents of Moscow in 1770 can be forgiven, up to a point, for behaving in ways that are illogical and run counter to medical facts. Today we know rats and fleas led to the ways people were the first infected. But in 2020 with our wealth of knowledge and insight, there is no way to rationalize the willful disregard for science and data with COVID-19.