When I follow the COVID-19 figures for Whitman County, I believe we are really doing pretty well. At the same time, any cases are too many and most of all, any deaths are too many.

When I study those figures, I find myself wishing for more information. For instance, I’d like to know how many are from Pullman. I realize that listing figures for small towns and rural areas where everyone knows everyone else’s business, amounts to an invasion of privacy so I don’t ask for those details. Rather, I’d like to have figures for Pullman and categories like other larger towns, small towns and rural — maybe listed by quadrant.

I applaud the decision by Washington State University officials to require students returning and entering initially to be vaccinated including all those living off campus and in college housing. The children in town deserve this protection until they qualify for vaccines. Washington as a state has a record to be proud of, but our students and visiting faculty come from all parts of the country and the world, including many places where the vaccine records fall far short of ideal.

So far, the country has been lucky. I remember when I had the measles as a kid during an epidemic and the county health nurse came to the house and posted a sign on our doors that effectively placed us under quarantine. My dad and mom could come and go, but no one else except a doctor could come in the house. That sign stayed up for a full two weeks or more until all my spots were gone and I was well again. I don’t remember that happening with chicken pox — probably because it was not considered as dangerous. Measles is dangerous for pregnant women particularly but it can kill or cause serious health problems in others as well.

There has been a major resurgence in measles worldwide even though a vaccine has been available for years. Some of this is probably due to the high instances of refusals similar in nature to the refusals to get the COVID-19 vaccines. I can’t help wondering what the reactions of those refuseniks would be if we actually quarantined those who may have been exposed to covid. In this day and age, I wonder about the safety of any public health nurse or official who attempted to enforce such a quarantine.

I have to wonder about the mentality of those refuseniks, Don’t they care about the health and safety of their loved ones? Or have all their loved ones already died of someone else’s neglect or carelessness and they are taking out their bitterness on others? Or have they never experienced love? Maybe this is an area our sociologists should study.

I can remember when my mother, while in her 60s, caught measles during a visit to New York. The hotel called a doctor and he quarantined her to her room. Daddy had to wait on her and bring in all her food, clean bedding and towels. No maids or other hotel employees allowed in. She amused herself by playing “rear window” with her binoculars looking in windows of the skyscrapers all around her visual area. At her age, she was fortunate to have no complications or lasting ill effects. Getting back to our present dilemma, I wish I had some answers. It seems we will always have some group of people who simply don’t give a damn about the wellbeing of others. At least, we can try to raise our present bunch of young’uns to be more caring, law-abiding and kind. We also need to make sure our schools teach them how to distinguish truth from fiction and how to use better judgment about what they choose to believe. It may be too late for the present bunch of dolts who daily prove their lack of judgment and ignorance. The big question for which I have no answer is how do we best deal with them?

Harding lives in Pullman and is a longtime League of Women Voters member and served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at lj1105harding@gmail.com.

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