Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts.

We can’t rely on temperature screenings to weed out the infected, because one doesn’t have a temperature if they’re asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, although being highly contagious – and around 40% of cases are asymptomatic as far as we know, plus we’re only diagnosing 20% of all cases. Hence, the uncertainty demands caution, or else it will spiral out of control, overwhelm our hospitals, and further exhaust and traumatize generations of our doctors and nurses. Nearly 700 of our frontline healthcare workers have needlessly died, for we know that if wearing proper PPE they won’t be infected; and after all this time they’re still facing shortages, it’s unbelievably shameful! And wait until everyone understands the shortsightedness and culpability of U.S. companies that exported 200 tons of N-95 masks to China in February; and apparently they exported more PPE than that.

Trump and Pence can’t pretend they’re doing a great job and flattened the curve when the curve is skyrocketing, when we’ve the most deaths of any nation, many hospital ICU’s are at capacity already, and we’re on the verge of a disaster of biblical proportions. Still Trump fails to use federal agencies to set up a national infrastructure to supply PPE, for testing, contact tracing, and isolation; and that’s the only way we’re gonna contain this virus. But he doesn’t have the energy to care, as he’s abandoned to the virus, vulnerable and poor Americans who can’t afford to stay at home and who are our essential workers and the backbone of this country. We need to hire at least 100,000 people (who need jobs, by the way) to do contact-tracing; but he refuses to listen to the scientists and act accordingly – because he’s a narcissistic fool; Nero (playing golf) as Rome burns.

You can’t have effective contact tracing until you get the caseload down low enough to make it feasible, that’s one reason we locked down in the first place; but Trump prevented the scientists from following thru with their tried and true strategic plan. Our excellent scientists have been fighting viruses like this for decades; Dr. Fuaci and our scientists are experts (Trump and DeSantis are primitives), they know what their doing (they contained Ebola); but obstructionist Trump stopped them from containing COVID-19, it’s unconscionable. Originally we shut down, then when cases decline for 14 strait days, they’re low enough to do contact tracing to snuff-out hot spots; that’s the regimen, but we failed to wait the mandatory 14 days – consequently, now it’s a disaster.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans do not have to die from COVID-19, we can contain it if only we’ve the will, the intelligence, and the discipline to do what is necessary. It’s too late to do what we should’ve initially to nip it in the bud, or even to wait until the curve goes down for two straight weeks before opening up for business, but perhaps if we take precautions, we can keep the economy going; if we don’t, it seems that we’ll have no other recourse than to shut it down again at some point when it’s out of control. And this isn’t like the flu; it can cause permanent lung, cardiovascular, neurological, heart, and other organ damage.

All it takes is for one unwittingly infected, asymptomatic fool from out of town, who refuses to wear a mask, to infect a whole room full of people here in Sebring; who’ll then take it home to their families, as well as unknowingly infect their friends and contacts, and then their families, and maybe kill their asthmatic little niece. So don’t be an fool! Do social distancing in public and wear a mask, especially when indoors to protect others from you; and that means you, young adults, in case you’re infected and unwittingly spreading it, so don’t kill your friends’ gramma or niece. Some of you need to un-insert your heads and begin to think about the welfare of someone other than yourselves at this juncture, it’s your civic duty ... aka, empathy and compassion: vital to maturation.

I know that some of you feel that masking exhibits weakness and impinges on your precious liberty, I get that; but sometimes we have to sacrifice our personal desires for a time, garner patience, and think collectively in terms of what is in the best interest of us all, as we did during World War II. This virus doesn’t care what you think, if you’re macho-man, or just tired of seclusion, if ignored, or denied, it can spread like a California wildfire. Society demands you to wear clothing in public, right? The Constitution doesn’t give you the freedom to just do whatever your little heart desires; you also have to wear seatbelts and buy car insurance. So now we need you to don a mask for a while too, to help contain the spread of the virus.

Mark Zembower is a Sebring resident. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.