You couldn’t convince Mary Mallon she was sickening people.
The 37-year-old Irish cook who worked in New York in the early 1900s was an asymptomatic carrier of Salmonella typhi, a bacteria that causes typhoid, according to a story in National Geographic.
“Typhoid Mary” spread the disease that sometimes led to death to at least 22 people from 1900 and 1907. After a forced quarantine and release by the city’s new health commissioner under the condition she no longer cooked, she cooked under a different name and sickened 25 more people. An investigator determined who she was and she was sent back to a permanent quarantine.
“She never admitted to being a carrier of typhoid, and perhaps without the education to understand it, actually never believed it,” the National Geographic article states.
It’s not hard to draw parallels to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health officials recommend social distancing and only leaving home for essential errands. Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta has ordered residents act accordingly.
He didn’t make that decision lightly. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, along with doctors, nurses, health department leaders and all other professionals, did not concoct their recommendations without much thought, either.
These are the people who have been educated and trained for many, many years in order to have expertise in this situation. Their recommendations are based on facts, including that some people can have the novel coronavirus without showing any symptoms, therefore unknowingly passing it on to vulnerable populations.
Staying home and away from other people is the best way to prevent contracting the virus, but its purpose is twofold. Everyone should act like they already have the virus and prevent passing it along to others.
Many residents already make a grand effort to stay home, practice social distancing and order take-out to support local business.
Yet, some internet sleuths and hard-headed members of society still believe this is blown out of proportion or a media hoax. It’s not. People are dying.
An example of this is Kentucky residents who gathered to have a purposely defiant “coronavirus party.” One of the attendees is now infected, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday.
Nothing about that is funny.
These people do not know better than healthcare professionals, and neither do any residents who claim they can’t be told what to do because they have rights.
The more people who defy the orders, the longer the pandemic and restrictions will last, and the more people will die.
Residents need to listen to medical professionals and and the local leadership they are advising. They know what is best.