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EDITORIALS

Public health officials, local leaders don't deserve rebuke from communities

By The Editorial Advisory Board
Gianfranco Pezzino [2020 file photo/The Capital-Journal]

The pandemic has stretched on for months. And while vaccines are on the way, it’s going to stretch on for at least several more.

So what do we gain by abusing those who work to help us? Why did Shawnee County commissioners press Health Officer Gianfranco Pezzino to the point that he resigned two weeks early? Why did Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw feel the need to quit after vocally supporting a mask mandate? Zooming out, public health officials across the nation have been leaving their jobs in droves.

If you’re angry, if you’re disappointed, that’s OK. But none of these people created this situation. A microscopic virus did.

We understand the anger about businesses closing and jobs being lost. But these are also problems that would exist no matter what public health orders existed. People are not going to patronize businesses in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic. The solution is for governments to step in and make sure those businesses and workers are taken care of.

And we know: The federal government hasn’t exactly been consistent on this front. Congress appears to have finally made a breakthrough on additional relief, but it likely won’t be enough. Still, not one iota of this is the fault of public health experts or local officials.

Everyone’s case is unique. But people already give up a great deal of time and privacy to serve the public. They do it because they care about public well-being and their neighbors and friends.

We’re all fellow humans, and we’re all going through this disconcerting and difficult experience together. That should count for something. And no, we’re not going to agree on the best course of action all the time. But a little bit of sympathy, of understanding, of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, should go a long way.

We have further to go, too. This winter is shaping to be an especially challenging time. Vaccines have arrived, but there won’t be enough supply to meet demand for several months. We will all be indoors as the temperatures drop.

Let’s resolve this holiday season to truly care for one another. Public health experts and government officials are people just like you. They want us all to be safe and well. Let’s show unity rather than division.