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To Those Who Want to Open the Economy Because 'There Are More Important Things Than Living'

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With the proposed opening of the nation state by state, a lot of people are more than concerned. Both those who are at a higher risk for catching the virus and those who are not. The COVID-19 pandemic is a viral outbreak like we have not seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that claimed roughly 50 million lives worldwide and over 600,000 in the United States. While we are not seeing these numbers with COVID-19, we are also living in a completely different world. Health care and medicine have made huge leaps in the last 100 years, but unfortunately, right now the only way we are going to ensure the virus does not spread is to stay away from each other, whether they are symptomatic or not. 

So, when Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas goes on national television and tells Tucker Carlson (and the world) that the nation’s economy is more important than the lives of its people, I cannot stay silent. 

You may not be aware of this state leader, but you probably have heard what he has had to say. This is the same man, who back in March said he believes most grandparents would be willing to sacrifice themselves to keep the economy going for their grandchildren. Well, the other night Lieutenant Governor Patrick spoke again. This time about why ending the protection orders are imperative:

“There are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country for my children and grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,” he said.

Comments like these are a gut punch to people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Notice he said “Saving the country,” not “saving the people.” I’d like to ask you, Mr. Patrick, what is a country without its people? 

Let me tell you, the United States is made up of some of the best people in the world. It’s not the economy, or the government, it is the people. And in this population there are those who are high-risk due to chronic illnesses and disabilities we did not ask for. We are not all senior citizens willing to “sacrifice ourselves for the good of the nation.” (Although, based on your comments, I’m pretty sure that was just you). Many of us are young, successful and an important part of this nation. We teach the youth you speak of. We are the store owners who you seem to want to save by lifting the orders. And we are the bus drivers, mail carriers, IT professionals, shelf stockers, nurses and every other position that keeps this country running. 

And even if we are on disability, unemployed and improve the world in our own way from home, we are all essential. A little over a month ago, a group of immunocompromised Americans took to Twitter and launched the #HighRiskCovid19 movement, and it went viral around the world. Thousands of people just like us posted their pictures and told the world that we are the reason every community needs to lock down and stay at home. Our lives are important, and we are worth more than your precious economy. 

Now that state and local governments have announced their intentions to relax their “shelter-in-place” orders, basically allowing people to come back together and touch every surface, we, the Immunocompromised are afraid! 

The second wave of the Spanish flu was worse than the first. We thought as a nation we were ready to take off our masks, and our population and economy took the hit. 

COVID-19 is still quickly moving around the county, and the only thing that is keeping it remotely in check are the ones, like us, who have stayed at home. Not coming in contact with someone with the virus is 100% effective. And opening stores, movie theaters and parks will cause a spike in people coming together. The floodgates will open and the virus will run free, making it so we will still be dealing with this in November and beyond. With our hospitals continuing to take on more than they can handle. 

This is why the same group of advocates, including myself, Charis Hill, Molly Schreiber, Dawn Gibson, Ray Bouchard, Jennifer Walker and the organization CreakyJoints got back together for another Twitter event. This time #OpenAtMyHighRisk. Opening the nation will be at the people’s risk, and it will be at an even higher risk for those who have compromised immune systems. 

Mr. Patrick. You might not think living is more important than the economy and the success of the nation. But, I and the rest of my chronic illness family are here to tell you. We are important, and sacrificing us will be sacrificing what makes this country wonderful. You said in your interview “Every month we stay closed, it’s going to take two to three months to rebuild.” Let me ask you, who is going to rebuild if nobody is left living?

America is the people.

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Originally published: April 24, 2020
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