Sometimes I wonder about if people have changed, or whether there have always been a healthy percentage of seriously jerky people in the American population. Did the “Greatest Generation” that survived the Great Depression and won World War II to usher in an era of great prosperity, for example, have a significant number of thoughtless and hopelessly self-absorbed members — or is the presence of such people an unfortunate modern phenomenon?
Consider this article. A 57-year-old Wisconsin man stayed in a hotel with people who have the measles — which is one of the most contagious diseases around. The measles virus is communicated to different people by coughing and sneezing, and the virus is hardy enough to live for two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed. In order words, you don’t need to be in the same room as someone who has measles at the same time for the disease to be transmitted. The U.S. regularly deals with measles outbreaks when an infected person appears in a community, some members of the community aren’t vaccinated, and the disease quickly starts to spread. With more and more people blithely deciding they don’t need to have their children vaccinated, the risks of an outbreak are multiplying.
Because the man had potentially been exposed to measles, officials decided it was prudent to keep him quarantined for 21 days and he was ordered to stay home. Police officers were even posted outside his home to make sure he obeyed the quarantine order. But because the man felt that he was “going crazy” inside his house, he enlisted his wife to help him escape. He hid in her car and went to a gym so he could work out. A gym, of course, would rank right up there as one of the best places for the measles virus to spread — an enclosed space where people are exercising in close quarters, and therefore breathing deeply of the shared air.
The man says he only stayed at the gym for a few minutes, because he started feeling guilty, and when he and his wife were later found outside by deputies, he apologized. He’s now been charged with violating his quarantine order, and he points out that he never was officially diagnosed with measles and never thought he was symptomatic. But, of course, that’s not a decision he gets to make, and now he and his wife are being prosecuted for their stupid and dangerous decision.
I think it would be tough to stay cooped up in your house for 21 days without getting cabin fever, but quarantine orders are for the public good. You’d like to think that a mature adult would accept such an order and deal with it — but apparently that’s not the case. I think anyone who would violate such an order and unilaterally decide to go to a public place like a gym, where they could potentially be exposing innocent people to one of the most contagious diseases around, should be prosecuted. Maybe he’ll learn that the world doesn’t revolve around him, and there’s such a thing as a greater good.