Tone Deaf

I’m writing in regard to the opinion piece “Be Balanced About COVID” that I came across from my daily Independent email. I was shocked to say the least to read this writer minimize the deaths of more than 160,000 people, and a projected 250,000, by stating they were “1/16th of a percent of the population” and that half was comprised of the elderly and immune-compromised.

I do not doubt that several readers of this newspaper have had loved ones die due to COVID-19, some of whom were perfectly healthy individuals. This article is tone-deaf, inconsiderate, and dangerous given the already tumultuous climate surrounding COVID-19 precautions.

While I understand it’s an opinion piece, it is one thing to state an opinion that the economic climate could lead to increased suicides as per the housing-market collapse in 2008. It is another thing to have a predominant print local paper publish an opinion piece minimizing the preventable deaths of over 160,000 people.

It is a privilege to be largely untouched by this virus, and as the writer states, this virus has disproportionately affected those living in close quarters, such as those in prison and in work-crew populations living in close quarters. The writer states that those who are not at risk and do not pose a risk should be allowed to go back to their daily lives, which is again, a completely tone-deaf, entire privileged statement; juxtaposed with the writer’s statement about prisons and work-crew populations, it is classist and extremely insensitive.

This writer has the right to express their opinion online and in public in several forums that are not the local newspaper where many go to get their updates about guidelines for how best to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This article serves to validate a population that is at minimal health risk if they contract the virus but would be carriers that could infect those who have no choice but to put themselves at infection risk, many of whom come from working class families that live in close quarters with others who may be elderly or immune compromised.

I sincerely hope the writer considers the potential deaths they could be causing with this opinion piece and also the potential deaths they could be causing because they choose to return to business as usual.

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