My ward in Colorado is starting Sacrament meetings on Sunday for the first time since March. I am in the Elder’s Quorum presidency, so I have been involved with planning the return.
Sacrament meeting will look very different. Everybody over two years old must wear a mask. There will be greeters and counters as you walk into the building. We cannot have more than 99 people at Sacrament, which means we will have two Sacrament meetings for our ward every Sunday, and people will only be able to take Sacrament (at least for now) every other Sunday. Many at risk people will continue to take Sacrament at home. Once you get into the chapel, you must maintain social distancing from other families. No hymnals will be available — you must look up the lyrics on-line.
The return of Sacrament meeting will be a huge blessing for our ward, but especially for those who do not have priesthood in the home and may have missed taking the Sacrament regularly the last few months. And I want to make it clear that the strange new world of our Sacrament meetings is mandated by our local county. County officials have make it clear they will be monitoring churches to make sure they abide by these rules, and our stake leaders have done an excellent job adapting to the county guidelines. So, just in case there is any doubt: I support what our church is doing.
The Church is adapting to the societal response. If we want to find culprits for the economic devastation, the suppression of civil liberties and the rampant fear-mongering regarding the virus, the fault is not the Church. The fault lies at the feet of our dishonest media and our many dishonest politicians.
With that in mind, I would like to bring a few facts to the attention of readers. Hopefully with the help of these facts we may, as Elder Bednar recently said, arrive at a situation where “Never again must the fundamental right to worship God be trivialized below the ability to buy gasoline.”
The first point I would like to make is that pandemics are inevitable. They have happened throughout recorded human history. I would like you to consider this chart.
There are 7.8 billion people in the world, and 472,000 (more or less) have died so far from a pandemic that began six months ago. Let’s say 1.5 million people die in the next few years from COVID-19. This will mean that the Coronavirus pandemic is LESS DEADLY as a percent of world population than the Asian flu in the 1950s and the Hong Kong flu in the 1960s.
Yet, there was no worldwide lockdown in the 1950s or the 1960s. I likely contracted the Hong Kong flu in the late 1960s. Nobody wore masks, the economy did not shut down, and everybody kept on going to church. No tyrannical governors issued ridiculous lockdown rules.
Note: the Hong Kong flu virus is still around, just like COVID-19 will still be around years from now. The world adjusted without panicking. Some people died, and others (like me) got very sick. But humanity developed immunities to the virus, just as it has to other viruses that are all around us today.
Here is what I am NOT saying: I am not saying that if you are at high risk to contract COVID-19 (and everybody knows who the high risk groups are by now), that you should not take the virus seriously and take precautions. If I were in a high risk group, I would stay home and take precautions. My father and mother are high risk. I have encouraged them to stay home and take precautions. I am NOT saying that nobody should wear masks. I am NOT saying that temporary stay at home orders in areas where hospitals are being overwhelmed is a bad idea.
What I AM saying is that the worldwide lockdown was a huge mistake, both from an economic standpoint and a civil liberties standpoint. I am saying that we should have done a better job early on concentrating on protecting the elderly and other vulnerable people. If we had done that worldwide, the number of deaths would have been much, much lower. I am also pointing out that people cannot lockdown forever. No 100 percent perfect vaccine is ever likely to be developed. People will need to come out of their homes eventually, and when they do they will likely be exposed to the virus. These are simply facts. And I am also saying that the panic over the virus was WAY OVERBLOWN.
To prove that the panic is way overblown, I would like to ask readers how many have seen this chart, the chart that shows that in the U.S. deaths from the virus are down 90 percent?
What? You mean the media has never told you that? Are you saying that the media and the politicians may be dishonest?!!!??? Heaven forbid!!
(Source for the above graph: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/)
Yes, there have been more cases lately. This is basic common sense. Testing is way up, and people are leaving their homes. So, unless your argument is that everybody must stay at home forever, I have news for you: there will be more cases of the virus. But meanwhile the death rate is WAY DOWN.
Why is the death rate way down? Because young people are not at high risk to die from the virus. More young people are getting the virus, but fewer of them are dying. So, for a very large percentage of the population, COVID-19 is no more dangerous than the flu. It also obviously true that doctors have found more effective treatments to the virus over time.
One last graph. Yes, as mentioned above, new cases of the virus are up compared to a month ago. But the increase is not nearly as alarming as the media would have you believe.
Again, people are leaving their homes and going back to work and protesting and going out to dinner. More tests are being done. Of course there will be more cases. I am surprised that the number of new cases is not much higher. But it is simply a fact that fewer people are dying.
So, as we go back to church, let’s celebrate that some of us can take the Sacrament in our chapels again. Let’s celebrate a church that is directed and led by the Savior and modern-day prophets. But let’s keep some perspective about this virus. I sincerely hope we learn our lessons and never agree to a worldwide lockdown again (unless it is a virus that is considerably worse than this one).