Protests, anti-science editorials, viral conspiracy theories, cartoons and serial tweeting will not change the “will” of the COVID-19 virus.

We face a medical crisis. An economic crisis follows no matter what the course of action. Social distancing and wearing masks works as proven and, conversely, taking no measures will spread the virus almost uncontrollably. Both scenarios have taken place in Italy, and both scenarios will affect the economy. Wisely, most states in America are seeking an appropriate balance in order to move forward in a safe manner.

In northern Italy, the virus went unchecked before the medical community and officials knew the nature of the disease that overwhelmed their region. Unfortunately, some of the people in the north immediately fled to the south of Italy to the homes of relatives. But the Italian government quickly halted travel to the south, including the southernmost region of Calabria.

Calabria, like other southern regions, enacted very strict quarantine measures. The military, police and national park personnel along with civilian volunteers donned protective gear and patrolled the towns and villages in order to stop the flow of non-essential traffic along the boundaries of the municipalities. In this mountainous region of Italy, hospitals are located only in the larger towns and cities, so a COVID-19 outbreak would be particularly devastating.

The death toll in Calabria stands at about 100, compared to about 15,000 in the northern region of Lombardy. Even when taking population differences into account, Calabria has done extremely well in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in the United States, citizens are protesting with semiautomatic weapons and yet, curiously, many of these people are wearing masks. Since a virus is a non-living “macromolecule,” a rifle is not much defense. During the Spanish flu epidemic, the Oct. 26, 1918, edition of the Kane (Pa.) Republican reported that 22 children in the Kane area became orphaned as of that date. The Kane Republican reported that the number of tragedies in the Kane vicinity were actually lower than other area communities because of the early quarantine measures enacted by Dr. Evan O’Neil Kane and the Kane board of health.

In researching the Spanish flu epidemic, I found no organized protests against measures enacted to control the influenza.

Cognitive dissonance theory was first proposed about 60 years ago. In one study, they found that some people actually increased their smoking habit with increased warnings that smoking would harm their health. Cognitive dissonance also appears to be a pandemic.

Peter F. Palumbo                                                                                Bradford, Pa.

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