Silver Lined Corona
Guest Column By G. Gregory Tooker
For all of the horror associated with COVID-19, one has to look closely at this global pandemic to detect any trace of benefit which might derive from the battle to control and defeat the virus. A century ago, another virus challenged us when mankind was literally entrenched against itself over political and economic disagreements. Fortunately, the world presently enjoys relative freedom from widespread active combat during this skirmish with another potent microbe. But regrettably, the seeming intractable tendency of large segments of the population to reject the findings of medical science persists.
Recall the story of the little lad who, on his eighth birthday, received as a prank a large, beautifully wrapped present. He just loved animals, especially horses, and longed to ride through the meadows.
As he opened the big package, the ripe odor of manure wafted through the room. All in attendance recoiled in shock, thinking who would be so cruel to play such a trick. But the lad was not deterred and began digging through the leavings with fervor. The birthday guests were more than perplexed and begged the boy to desist. He replied with enthusiasm, “But no! With all of this manure, there has to be a pony in here somewhere!” So let us take a sober, objective look for the possible long term benefits stemming from our present worldwide nightmare.
The health precautions encouraged by leading medical authorities, such as wearing a certified protective mask, social distancing and avoiding large crowds, are not unique to this pandemic. Asian and other cultures have practiced such measures regularly during recurring seasonal flu outbreaks. Masks can significantly reduce the probability of disease transmission. Until recently, however, western culture social taboos have discouraged the widespread adoption of medical masks. They just do not enhance the personal image. Witness some in high political office who continue to shun the safeguard. But slowly, the general population is beginning to get the message and in those areas where the practices have been adopted on a large scale, the savings in lives has been very significant.
So what if these practices were to be continued on an ongoing basis even after COVID-19 has been run to ground? Medical masks are like seat belts for your lungs.; they will give you serious added protection when you collide with an infectious microbe. Healthcare insurance companies would be well served to encourage their policyholders to follow safe practice and supply protective gear at no cost. Rewards could even be given for diligent compliance.
Recent medical findings and data demonstrate that obesity can significantly increase your vulnerability to COVID-19. We have long known that excessive weight is unhealthy and can impact the body negatively in numerous ways. The COVID-19 pandemic may just be the tipping point, however, to move the scales in the direction of improved national health and fitness. Here too, health insurers can take the lead in providing incentives for wellness improvement. All leaders in the public and private sectors should step up to the plate and meet the challenge; it is an opportunity not to be missed.
Mr. Tooker, a Wrentham resident, served as a risk management consultant to the National League of Cities and state league municipal risk pooling organizations for over 25 years.