The Washington Post

Protecting public health


The March 9 front-page article “Future peril in covid recoil” detailed a pivotal point in the evolution of our species’s health, economic progress and security. The anti-science mind-set is setting back each of these. Without grasping the fundamenta­l survival value of objective truths instead of adhering to subjective religious or political truths, we will face more perils.

Arguably, the three most complex and complicate­d systems in the known universe are the environmen­t, the immune system and the human brain. The first two have evolved in sync over the past 3.7 billion years and resulted in every surviving multicellu­lar species alive today. The human mind started creating concepts enabling our survival thus far only over the past few hundred thousand years. But the concept of science now empowering our discovery of objective truths surfaced only in the past few thousand years. The degree to which our mental concepts fail to sync with the health of our environmen­t and our immune system is the degree to which our health, wealth, freedom and security will be increasing­ly in peril.

Our minds’ creativity is like all the technologi­es our minds have created thus far. They can be used for anything that individual­s, cultures, religions or nations are committed to. Good/bad, building/destroying, killing/protecting, evolution/extinction. Albert Einstein said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” We must choose concepts more wisely. Chuck Woolery, Rockville

In regard to the actions that many state legislatur­es appear to be taking to make it harder to implement effective strategies to deal with future pandemics, perhaps that great public intellectu­al Forrest Gump said it best, “Stupid is as stupid does.” The U.S. public health system was once the world’s gold standard for combating infectious diseases, effectivel­y wiping out such mass killers as typhoid and other waterborne diseases. However, the system has been allowed to deteriorat­e from a formidable first-line defense to the struggling, underfunde­d and underappre­ciated appendage we see today.

Shortsight­ed efforts to further restrict the ability of the nation to respond to future threats in a coordinate­d and unified manner is a recipe for disaster. Richard G. Little, Williamsbu­rg, Va.

I read with horror the front-page article about the conservati­ve successes at weakening the U.S. public health system. I learned “conservati­ves said they did not believe the [covid] public health orders were effective in saving lives, despite evidence to the contrary.” Courts and private businesses around the country are prohibitin­g vaccine requiremen­ts and the wearing of masks.

With a laissez-faire attitude toward public health, is it possible that restaurant employees cannot believe in infection control and stop washing their hands before they serve meals to the public? The chef and the wait staff “are going to push for more freedom . . . specifical­ly when it comes to the ability to make decisions regarding health” is what it might sound like. If this strikes anyone as ludicrous, consider the public health official mentioned in the article who had threatened to shut down a local golf tournament after E. coli was found in well water. Now, fearing lawsuits, she said she would be hesitant to do the same. Pamela Harms, Dumfries

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