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NOTO: Individualism Won’t Stop COVID

Individualism Won’t Stop COVID

Maria Noto, a CCS 2017 graduate, is a senior at Wesleyan. She was on he Lady Hawkeyes’ state championship basketball team.

Individualism in the United States through the lens of SARS-CoV-2 defines freedom as “freedom to not wear a mask,” as opposed to “freedom from getting sick.”

Since I was a young girl whenever I felt remotely ill I was told to “suck it up,” get out of bed, go to school, socialize and learn. This attitude is rooted in the American belief that “sickness is a weakness;” sickness is an attitude. To many in America, to take the day off for illness implies you are not hard-working and replaceable.

Additionally, policies set forth by some companies and schools make it difficult to take sick days. For instance, in some schools, students are required to provide a doctor’s note to prove that they were actually sick. Not only does this reinforce the narrative that people lie about sickness but it also requires children to have health insurance which, in the U.S., is not considered a universal human right. Someone’s socioeconomic status should not determine whether or not their sickness is considered “real.” Furthermore, some employers limit the number of paid sick days making it difficult for some people to take off. You should not have to choose between personal health and making money.

American culture has deep roots tied to individualism which can be understood in the reflection of American values. “Self-motivation, self-choice and self-reliance,” are key principles. American
individualism is neither universally good nor bad. However, its defects are more relevant today than ever.

Many recognize that this American mentality is flawed, however, not in the ways that relate to our current, international crisis. Individualism has led the U.S. down a path that is not only selfish but deadly.

Because of our self-interested mindset, if Covid-19 does not directly and negatively impact someone (i.e. harming the ones we love), then it does not apply to the individual.

Too many of us continue to disregard CDC guidelines and restrictions simply when we feel like it and this is reflected in the increasing number of cases.

SARS-CoV-2 was not destined to be a pandemic. For example, South Korea and New Zealand have better controlled the virus, keeping it at a Level 3 (the U.S. is at a Level 4). This success is not only due to those in power but also to their own cultural values.

When analyzing the cultures of certain East Asian countries, several differences stand out. For instance, when people are sick and during the cold and flu season, many East Asian cultures, including South Korea, utilize mask-wearing.

Considered a threat to freedom by some Americans it is a preventive action and community obligation in this example. This, along with many other cultural differences, is insightful in understanding their ability to maintain the virus.

These differences are deeply seeded in the values of a culture. However, there is hope for the U.S. and other individualistic cultures in recognizing and adopting these community-centered approaches. Our mindset needs to be revolutionized with the help of federal and local assistance: mandating masks, passing another stimulus package, contact tracing, etc… However, these measures will be unsuccessful unless everyone participates for the good of a community.

While I know that we are looking for a fix-all solution to end this pandemic, I think it is much more complicated than that. American culture, especially white, dominant culture, needs to revolutionize its values. Handling this pandemic with an individualist mindset is clearly not the answer. For us to get through this, we need to adopt more communal values that will directly conflict with the dominant values in the United States. There is no vaccine for ceasing the spread of individualism, which in terms of this pandemic, is deadly.

Thanksgiving Hosts Stricken
New Covid Records Set

Thanksgiving Hosts Stricken

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

As Otsego County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond has a dire warning – NO gathering is safe.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take to convince people to change their behavior,” she said. “If we don’t, we’re going to see these numbers continue to climb.”

Though hospitalizations were down to four on Monday, Nov. 30 – down two from last week – by Tuesday, Dec. 1, they had doubled to eight, the highest number since the pandemic started in March.

“Some of those hospitalized exposed people on Thanksgiving,” she said. “And none of these gatherings were over 10 people.”

With 92 new cases reported over the last seven days, compared to 126 last week, the positive testing rate is now at 4.4 percent, a record for the area. “Last week, we were at 1.9 percent positivity,” she said. “We had 130 cases in October, and 289 cases in November.”Since March, there have been 1,325 COVID cases in the county. That means, minus 765 at SUNY Oneonta and 71 at Hartwick, there have been 522 cases outside the county’s campuses.

I don’t think they’re going to decrease,” she said. “They’ll either stay the same or increase.”

Oneonta remains a hot spot, Bond said, and contact tracers are still seeing spread from Market Street’s Copper Fox cluster, which infected five staff members and 26 patrons, and caused 27 “secondary infections” from coming in contact with infected patrons or employees.

The Red Jug Pub and the Beer Barrel Inn also spawned new cases, with three at the Main Street bar and “approximately five” from the Fonda Avenue tavern.

“It’s so easily transmitted,” she said. “What we’re seeing is that if one person in the house gets it, the whole family gets sick, or if someone at work went to the bar and then comes into work, they spread it to their co-workers.”

Though she said she frequently sees people wearing masks and social distancing when she is in public, people are letting their guard down with friends and family members who don’t live in their home.

“If I’m shopping and I see a clerk for five minutes, we’re both wearing masks and they’re behind plexiglass, so it’s low risk,” she said. “But it’s going out shopping with your friends, taking your mask off in the car. You feel safe with them, but that’s when it’s risky.”

To stop the spread, she advised, people have to do more.

“We have to go back to our behavior in March and April. That means no bars and no restaurants,” she said.

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