Doc­tors de­bate at­ten­dance at wed­ding

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State -

Dear Amy: My fiancé and I are both doc­tors in a mid-sized Amer­i­can city. We are reg­u­larly car­ing for COVID-19 patients and rec­og­nize that we are high-risk to be po­ten­tial vec­tors. We’ve spent the last sev­eral months be­ing ab­so­lutely hor­ri­fied by this dis­ease and shocked that some don’t seem to be tak­ing it se­ri­ously.

My fiancé’s fam­ily lives in a dif­fer­ent state, where his sis­ter is sup­posed to get mar­ried next month. De­spite our fre­quently voiced dis­com­fort, the plan is for a 95-per­son wed­ding — grand­par­ents and all! — with ab­so­lutely no COVID-19 pre­cau­tions at all in his par­ents’ back­yard (out­side, at least, but their home will be open to any­one). Masks and phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing are not on the ta­ble; they say they “can’t con­trol what peo­ple do” and that things have “gone back to nor­mal” where they are.

In a nut­shell, they get their news from far more con­ser­va­tive sources than we do, don’t know peo­ple who have been sick and don’t think it can hap­pen to them.

Ob­vi­ously, in an ideal world, we could talk this out and end up with a wed­ding that would at least feel a lit­tle more re­spon­si­ble. The only con­ces­sion has been that they’ve said they will un­der­stand if we feel like we can’t come.

At this point, it feels like any de­ci­sion we make is wrong. My fiancé des­per­ately wants to be there, but it is hard to imag­ine spend­ing 36 hours in a se­ries of sit­u­a­tions that are risky and so­cially neg­li­gent.

Do we go? Do we stay? If we do go, do we wear masks and at­tempt to phys­i­cally dis­tance de­spite the fact that this will be out of place and seen as a po­lit­i­cal state­ment? If we don’t go, how do we bow out grace­fully?

Dear Caught: You and your fiancé are med­i­cal ex­perts, but maybe it will take an ama­teur (me) to clar­ify things for you: Wake up! Wake up and smell the COVID-19!

As physi­cians on the front lines, you risk ex­pos­ing others to ill­ness. You ad­mit as much in your ques­tion!

Please don’t let others frame this choice as po­lit­i­cal when it is med­i­cal.

If you as physi­cians lack the abil­ity to make a clear choice, based on sci­ence, then what chance do the rest of us have?

Be­cause you are con­cerned and com­pli­ant (good for you!), if you did at­tend the wed­ding, you would have to get tested, travel, (pos­si­bly) iso­late, get tested again, and wear masks and main­tain your dis­tance while there.

The eth­i­cal choice is for you to stay home.

The way to bow out grace­fully is to re­spond hon­estly: “We are heart­bro­ken to miss this wed­ding, but we re­al­ize that we pose a risk to others, and we could not live with our­selves if some­one be­came ill be­cause of our pres­ence. We hope you have a won­der­ful time and look for­ward to see­ing lots of pho­tos and videos.”

These fam­ily mem­bers might be will­ing and able to livestream the wed­ding for you.

Dear Amy: I feel very much a part of our coun­try and have many pa­tri­otic feel­ings. How­ever, I be­lieve that for some peo­ple, fly­ing the flag at home has be­come a con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal state­ment.

That is not a mes­sage I wish to con­vey. I want to fly the Stars and Stripes on my house over the Fourth of July hol­i­day.

How can I do this with­out send­ing the wrong mes­sage?

Dear Con­fused: You can (and should) fly the flag with­out send­ing the “wrong mes­sage” by not car­ing what other peo­ple think or how they in­ter­pret your pa­tri­o­tism.

In fact, I be­lieve your con­cern and over­think­ing about this con­trib­utes to the very prob­lem you are at­tempt­ing to high­light.

If you be­lieve we are in the midst of a cul­ture war, then be a brave war­rior, and ex­er­cise your own free­dom and the right to fly the flag.

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