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This is an example of what happens when a society loses its base set of common values.  Healthcare professionals are leaving or being chased out of small rural communities because they are espousing the evidenced based protocols (wearing a mask) that are based on the best available medical knowledge during a pandemic.

Living in Canada we are not immune to segments of society that have been inoculated against evidence based medicine – witness the anti-mask rallies being held in my home province.  But, as in most cases, the United States is well ahead of us in terms of committing to stupid actions based on political ideology rather than empirical fact.   (Although we’ve gone off the rails with bullshit laws and pending laws like bill C-16 and bill C-6 {8} ), those are another post)

 

The virus infecting thousands of Americans a day is also attacking the country’s social fabric. The coronavirus has exposed a weakness in many rural communities, where divisive pandemic politics are alienating some of their most critical residents — health care workers.

“The values of hard work, the value of community, taking care of your neighbor, that’s what small towns shout from the rooftops, this is what we’re good at. We are salt of the earth people who care about each other,” Darnauer says. “And here I am saying, then wear a mask because that protects your precious neighbor.”

But Darnauer’s medical advice and moral admonition were met with contempt from some of her friends, neighbors and patients. People who had routinely buttonholed her for quick medical advice at church and kids’ ballgames were suddenly treating her as the enemy and regarding her professional opinion as suspect and offensive.

[…]

“Hard things should bring us together,” Darnauer says. “And instead, this hard thing has driven a wedge between us.”

That wedge is splitting off health care workers from communities that desperately need them.

More than a quarter of all the public health administrators in Kansas quit, retired or got fired this year, according to Vicki Collie-Akers, an associate professor of population health at the University of Kansas. Some of them got death threats. Some had to hire armed guards.

“These are leaders in their community,” Collie-Akers says. “And they are leaving broken.” Collie-Akers notes these professionals also leaving at a terrible time. The pandemic is still raging. Vaccines still need to get from cities to small towns and into people’s arms; public health officers are as important as ever.

[…]

“In community after community, after community, all I hear about is workforce, workforce, workforce losing clinical staff, trying to attract clinical staff into these communities. It is taking up the full time of our members right now,” Morgan says.

Closing rural hospitals, Morgan says, cuts health care to places where residents tend to be older, sicker and poorer than average.

[…]

Merrett says towns that let pandemic politics drive medical professionals away are choosing what he calls “toxic individualism” over the common good”

 

People seem to be willing to die for their beliefs, even when they do not correspond to reality.  The pandemic has brought to the forefront the necessity of a set of shared common values for a society to function properly, as we can see the evidence of what a fractured combative society entails.

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