Today, America is closed. In response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, President Trump has declared a national emergency along with all 50 states for the first time in history. The stock market has plunged, businesses have closed, unemployment has skyrocketed, and record amounts of money have been spent by every level of government in order to help people and businesses survive while scientists work feverishly to develop a vaccine.
Why the dramatic response? Two answers have been given to us:
- We don’t want to overwhelm our medical systems. In order to prevent that from happening, we need to “flatten the curve” (the graph of people needing hospitalization at once). In other words, since this virus is highly contagious, most of us have either had it or will get it, but we don’t want that to happen too quickly. But there’s still a lot we don’t know: we don’t know how contagious the virus is, we don’t know its mortality rate, and most importantly we don’t know if people who have recovered can be re-infected. Even more concerning, we don’t know what the mortality rate would be for those who are re-infected, if that is possible. And the list goes on and on.
So with more questions than answers, the government is doing everything it can to slow down the number of hospitalizations so everyone who contracts COVID-19 and needs to be hospitalized can be.
- Also, we don’t know where COVID-19 came from or what it will do. Add to this, many are alarmed about the government’s response to COVID-19, pointing out the number of people who die from the flu, car accidents, etc., and claiming that the government is overreacting or there is some sinister conspiracy that has taken over the world.
No doubt, there are evil people who will use this crisis to advance their own agendas. But I believe the thing that has our political leaders taking such dramatic actions is the unknown. It almost appears as though they are trying to save the human race. Their response is so spectacular that caution has been thrown to the wind regarding everything else. It’s as though this is so important that it needs to be dealt with at any cost, and once the virus is understood and defeated, then we can fix the things we broke while we were in the learning phase.
Here is my theory:
No one knows, or will publicly verify, where COVID-19 actually developed. Theories are being promoted by scientists, governments, and conspiracy theorists that range from natural mutations to biological warfare. It appears that even what we know is so new that assurance is lacking leaving decision makers having to make subjective judgment calls. If anyone does know, it appears as though they are not willing to produce the evidence for whatever reason, which leads to additional and probably more dramatic guessing. Today, but maybe not tomorrow, the widely accepted theory in the United States is that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is mainland China’s first biosafety level 4 laboratory, was working to develop a vaccine when the virus escaped from the lab.
Biosafety level 4 laboratories have the highest level of biosafety precautions because they are used for diagnostic work and research on easily transmitted pathogens that can cause fatal diseases. These laboratories work with agents that could easily be transmitted within the laboratory and cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which there are no available vaccines or treatments. In order to exit the BSL-4 laboratory, personnel must pass through a chemical shower for decontamination, then a room for removing the positive-pressure suit, followed by a thorough shower. Exiting one of these facilities might take as long as three hours. If any worker gets in a hurry with the protocol and cuts corners, they could easily carry a contagious, deadly virus out of the laboratory. Some project that is what happened.
Regardless of it’s source, this virus is with us now. But it seems as though our government officials are willing to pay any price to protect as many people as possible, or at least provide competent medical care, until they have time to learn about this virus.
However, with the 24-hour news cycle giving any pundit visibility, and a plethora of voices on social media, the number of people who are convinced they know more than they do is rapidly increasing, and we’re in the early stages of people who don’t know making confident statements and taking risky actions that might endanger themselves and others.
So for me, this is one of the cases where I believe our government knows more than we do and we would all be wise to obey the law. I do not believe this will become the global response to future outbreaks. On every level of society, we are learning a lot right now.
So, we are quarantined right now. Why? Because our leaders are concerned for good reason and they are trying to learn the best response to COVID-19 as quickly as possible. In the next six months, we will learn a great deal. Some of my ideas in this blog will be validated; others will need to be modified as we get more data. Some of the truth learned we will never know because it will be classified. But I believe we will survive, even better than before, because of all we are learning in this process.
In the meantime, let’s be diligent serving God by serving others. Our calling does not change during this quarantine. Our methods might evolve, but our calling doesn’t. Let’s serve.
Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).
This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.