Drawing the Line

During the pandemic, we struggled to determine where the line should be drawn between community health and safety, and individual liberty and privacy.

Although COVID continues to slowly fade out of our lives, and life seems to have returned to normal, it still left major distrust among the people of the United States. There’s no question there is a separation between people based on their association with political parties, and this made fighting COVID a lot harder than needed. During the worst parts of the pandemic, people, despite the science, refused to listen to the CDC’s recommendations. This was because they felt their constitutional rights allowed them to do so. However, when a person’s decision affects more than just themselves, it begs the question: where do we draw the line between community health and safety and individual liberty and privacy?

People in the US refusing to get vaccinated isn’t something new that only applies to this pandemic. Every year around 50% of Americans don’t get the flu vaccine. However, from my experience, no one seems to care if you didn’t get the flu vaccine because, for the most part, the flu isn’t that dangerous of a virus.  People that don’t get vaccinated rely on herd immunity, which is when enough people have either gotten sick or have a vaccine and have the antibodies. This, as a result, slows the spread of the virus. However, this is only effective if the transmission rates of the virus are low, and when examining COVID’s transmission rates, it reached peaks of over a million cases a day. People have the right to choose whether or not they get a vaccine, yet vaccine mandates have become common throughout the pandemic. People still have the right to choose, but public buildings have the right to turn anybody who didn’t get the vaccine away. This led people that didn’t get vaccinated to use fake vaccination cards in order to enter certain places. 

Mask mandates follow the same principles except instead of requiring vaccination, people are required to wear a mask when entering a public space. There is no reason anyone shouldn’t be able to wear a mask. All the negative beliefs surrounding masks have been disproven. The CDC has assured us that they are safe and effective, and they have become our primary defense against the spread of COVID. A business’s right to implement a mandate trumps the rights an individual has to choose whether or not they wear a mask. 

People’s rights can only apply to things that directly and only affect themselves. Once someone’s decisions branch out into potentially harming another person or business, they lose all their authority over what they are allowed to do. The answer to the question is situational. There is no need to punish a person for a decision well within their rights. However, if needed, an adjustment should be determined and made clear to the public about a change in their liberty because, in the end, a person’s right to live is the one we must prioritize.