Elizabeth Milias: Box it in? Good luck with that | AspenTimes.com

Elizabeth Milias: Box it in? Good luck with that

When the county pronounced its official COVID-19 response, the “box it in” strategy, it became the latest “what we’re doing now.” This was a dramatic pivot from the days-earlier plan to test the citizenry for the valuable antibodies, for which we had received an initial 1,000 tests. These were shelved ostensibly because of uncertainty about accuracy, but they’re precisely what we need.

Antibody tests will provide data on how many people have been exposed to and have acquired the antibodies from the virus, giving us a clue as to how our desperately needed herd immunity is coming. Now we’re only testing for the active virus, which tells us who is sick today — not exactly valuable information as we attempt to get our lives back and our economy moving.

Box-it-in is a progressive political model championed by Vital Strategies, a consortium of World Bank, Planned Parenthood and World Health Organization alumni who tout its success against Ebola in sub-Saharan Africa. It enables the government to track not just those who get sick, but also everyone they report having come in contact with, with the power to quarantine all of them regardless of health status.

In other words, the government can sideline large numbers of people for 14 days at a time whether or not they have symptoms. Imagine getting quarantined because your name popped up on someone’s list? Sure, perhaps you’d been exposed, but you also could be perfectly healthy or even in possession of the valuable antibodies from an earlier brush with the virus. Either way, sorry, you’re on lockdown. And theoretically, what’s to prevent this from happening to you numerous times? Notably, the very high proportion of asymptomatic COVID carriers defeats the purpose of both active virus testing as well as contact tracing, not to mention lockdowns.

It should come as no surprise that decisions here are being made based on politics, not science. The more we learn, the more clear it becomes that the virus is far less deadly than originally feared and the mess we’re in today is expressly of our own making. Sure, we must protect the vulnerable, including the elderly and those with underlying health issues, but everyone else should get on with their lives, yes, even if that means getting the virus. The risk to the young, healthy and non-morbidly obese is close to nil. The more of us who get the antibodies for the virus, however we get them, the better.

Box-it-in is entirely wrong for Aspen. We are hardly sub-Saharan Africa. Our lifeblood is tourism. We fundamentally need our doors open in order to survive. And we have to be realistic. We cannot keep the virus out; it’s here and will continue to come. To think like Councilman Skippy Mesirow that we can create a hermetically sealed bubble for ourselves before welcoming only healthy visitors and mandatorily tracking everyone with an app is laughable, not to mention anti-American.

Containing the virus in a “box” is like standing on your porch and trying to catch a cloud with a butterfly net. Box-it-in is just another social control mechanism, with the governmental intent of achieving the impossible versus facing the inevitable. There are never guarantees for absolute safety.

Moving forward, individual responsibility and personal risk assessment must play the most important roles. For those at risk, it should be their decision to come here or not. And for those who choose to come, we should welcome them with the world-class hospitality we’re known for, not a quarantine as though they’re the great unwashed. Same with flying here.

Councilwoman Rachel Richards wants the FAA to guide us on making airplanes safe from the virus. No, Rachel, that’s not how it works. If you don’t feel safe getting on an airplane, then don’t get on one. It’s that simple.

Furthermore, the enforcement of contact tracing quarantines is a constitutionally questionable use of local police powers; besides, they’re already busy enforcing the city’s mandatory face-mask law. And then there’s the kerfuffle in Carbondale, where a local business owner recently went to Denver to exercise his First Amendment right to protest the government over its COVID-19 response. A fellow citizen learned of this and launched a smear campaign to malign him personally and damage his business over her fear that he could have brought the virus home. This is exactly what we don’t need: a corps of citizen tattle-tales shaming others and reporting them to a government willing to “box them in.”

What we need is far more individual responsibility and far less government fiat. Let’s open our doors. It’s time to save Aspen.

The 14th Amendment assures that we cannot be confined to our homes by threat of state punishment without due process of law. Contact TheRedAntEM@comcast.net.

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