Dr. Jonathan Ross, president of the Lucas County Board of Health, looked out his window during his family’s Thanksgiving dinner Thursday to see a crowd of demonstrators protesting. They were angry, Dr. Ross noticed. And they have a right to be.
But as Dr. Ross himself pointed out, these protesters are aiming their justifiable anger at the wrong target.
“They should be angry at the situation we’re in. Sometimes you can control situations and sometimes you can’t. And I genuinely believe they’ve done everything they can to control it. And despite that, our numbers are terrible.”
What provoked the demonstrators’ ire was a resolution the board of health passed Wednesday ordering schools to close facilities to in-person learning for older students, and shutting down athletics and extracurricular activities until Jan. 11 as coronavirus cases continue to climb locally.
As most people are all too aware, there is widespread exposure to the virus in Lucas County. The number of cases and deaths are spiraling each day. The health board made its decision to try to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
There are no moustache-twisting villains eager to pounce on opportunities to curtail the social activities we enjoy. There is no grand conspiracy of medical experts who want to ruin the holidays. Get real.
Protesters — some of them armed — protested at the Columbus-area home of former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton until she stepped down earlier this year and stepped away from the public spotlight.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, has had to have a security detail since the spring. The man worked in public health for the federal government for more than 50 years but now he needs security.
Public health officials across the country have faced the same hostility. The National Association of County and City Health Officials notes that since the pandemic began more than 70 professionals have resigned, announced plans to leave their jobs, or been fired.
Harassing public health officials does not make the virus go away. It doesn’t end the threat. Only the coming vaccine and, in the meantime, smart precautions, can do that.
Do protesters have a First Amendment right to speak their minds and demonstrate? Absolutely. That doesn’t make this particular demonstration a good idea, though. And it doesn’t mean that the protesters’ complaints aren’t bunk.
A global pandemic that has killed more than a quarter-million people in this country alone this year, that is now raging out of control in most places, including Lucas County, is exactly the emergency for which we depend on public-health experts.
Physicians and public-health authorities doing their best to keep communities safe should not be harassed. Dr. Ross and his family should be able to eat their turkey in peace.
Everyone is angry and fed up. We should be. But it’s important to remember the real enemy is the virus.
— The Toledo Blade; Online: https://bit.ly/36yjDbZ