COVID-19 started out as a medical problem. Not being a physician of any sort, I have since refrained from speaking out on health protocols to stop or slow its spread and on medical approaches to its cure. Those things are best left to medical science and its practitioners.
In no time, however, Covid-19 became, rather created, a huge economic problem. On the macro-economic level, the Philippine economy is now objectively and unemotionally described as being in a deep recession. It is on ground zero where emotions are going haywire as people lose their jobs and/or livelihoods and come suddenly face to face with death no longer from Covid-19 but from hunger and related diseases.
There came a point when people were left with the choice of either dying of the dreaded virus or of hunger and hunger-related diseases that have stalked their impoverished lives even before the pandemic. If you violate health protocols you get infected and possibly die of Covid-19. If you adhere strictly to protocol and stay put, you could die of hunger, depression and other related diseases. Either way you die and, as the meme goes, “it’s the same die.”
One probably notices that there is an ebb and flow to the spread of the virus. It ebbs when health protocols are strictly and rigidly implemented. It flows when people take calculated and not-so-calculated risks and violate protocol to earn a living and put food on the table. The subliminal reasoning is simple. If I violate protocol, I can die of the virus. But if I don’t, I can die of hunger and my family with me.
What I’m trying to say here is that people should not have to make the choice of dying either from Covid-19 or from hunger and related diseases. Following the analogy that your freedom to move your arm stops where my nose begins, the freedom of government regulators to implement health protocols should stop where people’s right to earn a living begins.
Whenever and wherever possible, and it is many times in many places, health protocols should be implemented without unnecessarily immobilizing people and preventing them from going about their business of earning a living and enjoying life. After all, what’s the use of staying alive?
It’s a balancing act; it’s walking a tightrope. But it’s the only way to go if we want to make a life out of a bad situation.
Governor Gwen might, therefore, be on the right track when she imposes health protocols only up to a point where it doesn’t keep people away from the life-and-death business of eking out a living. Given that social space it’s now up to people to do their own balancing act on the tightrope between dying of Covid-19 or of hunger and other related causes. After all, as the meme goes, “it’s the same die.”