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  • Last modified 118 days ago (Jan. 27, 2022)

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16,300 people
can’t be wrong

Three days. Three victories. Each with no more than three seconds to spare. The Jayhawks’ two last-second victories in basketball, bookending the Chiefs’ overtime heroics in football, made for one of the best sports weekends in recent memory — unless, of course, you’re a Wildcats fan or, like this writer, a Packers fan.

Even more thrilling than the victories were shots of the crowd from Allen Fieldhouse, filled to capacity for Monday’s game even though the smaller Octagon of Doom at K-State had plenty of empty seats for the thriller two days earlier.

It wasn’t signs or shouts or other crowd rituals that made us proud. It was the 16,300 protective face masks, donned by each and every spectator — not because everyone wanted to but because KU told them to.

Masks aren’t like clutch game-winners from Ochai Agbaji. They won’t decisively end the battle against COVID-19 any more than the Octagon of Doom’s allowing of unmasked spectators will lead to it living up to its name as a COVID super-spreader.

Still, KU alumni should be proud that their alma mater stood up to the quacks, contrarians, and self-centered “it’s my right to infect you” morons who refuse to do what’s necessary.

Hillsboro Hometown Pharmacy is similarly to be congratulated for doing what’s best for its employees and the community by keeping the virus-spreading public outside while continuing to provide the extraordinary level of service it is known for.

More schools and more businesses need to have the courage KU and the pharmacy demonstrated this week to help drag society — kicking and screaming, perhaps — a few steps closer to safety amid a renewed pandemic.

We need to stop employing silly euphemisms like “modified quarantine,” stop treating sports as if they somehow are less able to be canceled than classes, and start insisting that our politicians decide what to do about the pandemic not on the basis of political affiliation but on the basis of accepted, scientific fact.

One of the silliest notions these days is how school districts have implemented Centers for Disease Control guidance on how virulent the virus is. CDC says sports should be stopped and masks should be required if more than 10% of the tests given in a community find infected people.

The positive rate in Kansas is three times that. In Marion County, it has approached four, even five times that. Yet schools continue to define “community” as being just the people in each school building, as if kids and teachers never go home, go shopping, eat out, or work part-time jobs within the actual community in which they reside.

If you’re looking for how to deceive, there are lies, then damned lies, and finally statistics. By misusing statistics, schools are able to keep happy an unfortunately large number of parents who seem to view education solely as free day care for their kids.

Following the example of KU and Hillsboro’s pharmacy, we need more leaders in education, business, and government to be willing to put society’s needs first and not worry about political fallout.

Of all the ways in which COVID is testing us, the test of our collective willingness to speak truth to political power is the one that may determine just how long the pandemic lasts and how many must be sickened or killed before it passes.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Jan. 27, 2022

 

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