The Heavy Cost of Politicizing Covid

Window – Stormy Seas McKinley United Methodist Church, Winona MN 2001

South Dakota nurse, Jodi Doering, expressed her frustration on Facebook, after one more patient dying of Covid, refused to acknowledge they had the disease. You may have seen her viral post. Covid denial has been deadly in the Upper Midwest. Where once it looked like we could begin to take a deep breath and hope we were on the way to contain the virus, now we are in dangerous territory. Hospitalizations and deaths are at their highest number since the pandemic started. What has been especially troublesome to me are the numbers of people who have simply discarded all pretense of responding to the pandemic in a responsible way.

We’ve been trying hard in Minnesota to contain the virus, at least most of us have. But, we are surrounded by states that have had the highest rates of infection in the country. (Including: Wisconsin where their Republican leaning Supreme Court continues to undermine health initiatives of their Governor. North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa have largely ignored public health measurers to contain the virus until days ago.) We’ve been fortunate to have a Governor guiding us through this, but our borders are long and our neighboring states without restrictions have made it difficult.

Then, just weeks before the election, the Republican Party in Minnesota decided their winning strategy to regain control of the state legislature was a “Contract to Open up Minnesota.” They promised to lift all Covid restrictions if they won. Their attitudes, along with President Trump’s rallies in the state drove apathy toward masks and social distancing.  Adding to the folly, last week there was an outbreak of Covid among Republicans in the State Senate. They duly notified members of their caucus, but neglected to mention it to their Democrat colleagues. None of that would have mattered, if the Senate hadn’t   met after the outbreak. When the other side complained they were not informed, Republicans accused them of “Politicizing Covid.” – Having just spent the previous six months “Politicizing Covid,” themselves.

Assuming that any of us knows more about a new, highly infectious virus, than people who have spent their lives studying infectious diseases is arrogance on a grand scale. I cannot comprehend the degree to which that same arrogance looks so lightly on a deadly, debilitating disease, and has so little compassion for ever more grieving families.

Jesus, who spent his time among us healing the sick, must wonder how we got our priorities so mixed up. If loving our neighbor as ourselves, means anything, it must mean we take steps to protect our neighbors from the spread of a deadly and often crippling disease.

If ever there was a time to set politics aside, it is now. We are always better when we work together for the common good. We are at our worst when we think only of ourselves, our wants, our discomfort, our preferences and our wishes. Jesus left us clear guidance on how to live during a pandemic.

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40