In these times of pandemic preparedness, there are several ways to approach our daily lives.
You can do so in a science-based way, looking at all of the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and other public health experts. You have cloth masks at the ready, disinfectants at home and are staying in whenever possible.
You can do so in a commonsense-based way, understanding what the science is but also making an exception here and there. You understand the arguments, but you possibly visit stores a few times more than absolutely necessary. You might not wear a mask every single time. You understand this is slightly riskier, but you’re acting in a generally responsible way.
And then you can just act outright foolishly.
As The Topeka Capital-Journal reported this week: “At least 10 people from multiple counties and two states became infected with COVID-19 after taking part in a group event early this month at Lake Perry in apparent violation of Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order, the Shawnee County COVID-19 Response Team announced Saturday.”
Health department director Linda Ochs put it this way in a news release: “Our skilled investigators were able to quickly find a link between the case at the TPD Recruit Academy and groups of people who decided to spend leisure time boating on a lake.”
Come on, people.
Yes, in general, it’s lower-risk to be outdoors than indoors when dealing with this virus. That’s why outdoor activities haven’t been restricted in the same way that business operations have over the past two months. But prolonged exposure to other people who aren’t in your household is a real risk — be it in a house or on a boat.
We hope that everyone involved in the Lake Perry cluster recovers and remains as healthy as possible. We also hope that those exposed to the partiers are spared the dire effects of the virus. No one deserves to be severely ill, regardless of the quality of their decisions.
But this should remind us that we have all the power to make meaningful decisions about our health. Whether we’re guided by every single public health recommendation or exposing ourselves to dangerous situations — we are making those choices for ourselves.
We likely can’t eliminate every possible risk. But we can also behave sensibly.