Opinion: Co-op Community Should be Open to Alternate Approaches to COVID

Douglas Zork, Weavers Way Co-op Member


The Shuttle welcomes letters of interest to the Weavers Way community. Send to editor@weaversway.coop. The deadline is the 10th of the month prior to publication. Include a name and email address or phone number for verification; no anonymous letters will be published. Letters should be 200 words or fewer and may be edited. The Shuttle reserves the right to decline to publish any letter.

Weavers Way has always been a diverse community — committed to each other, committed to respecting our differences, believing that inclusiveness supports richer lives for all. Though diversity has never been easy, we have always sought to include everyone in our cooperative home.

This year we have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The counter-measures required to conduct Co-op business, while protecting lives, are taking a financial and emotional toll that is not indefinitely sustainable.

Co-op members have risen to the occasion, doing as we have been asked in order to protect the health of our neighbors. We have responded with patience and dignity out of respect for those around us. We have gone far out of our way to protect those who are more likely to suffer a serious illness. At moments like this, our community shines, and I’m proud to be a member of the Co-op.

A minority among us have different beliefs about the virus and the government’s response. A segment of our community doesn’t trust the pharmaceutical industry and will be suspicious of any “warp speed” vaccine that has not been tested for its long-term effects. Some follow this reasoning to the next step: Without a vaccine, how can the COVID lockdown end?

Some members of our community believe that the media has conducted a scare campaign, that the virus is no longer a threat that warrants closure of our schools and businesses or limitations of public gatherings. We may be tempted to dismiss such notions as selfishness or anti-science.

Dr. Johan Giesecke, Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist and recently appointed member of the World Health Organization’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group, warned against countries building their strategies on the imminent advent of a COVID vaccine on Sept. 23 in Dublin.

“I think you should allow for the controlled spread of the disease for people below the age of 60,” he said. “Concentrate intensively on the old and frail. Keep your schools open [as in Sweden, without mandatory face covering and without distancing]. COVID is sometimes regarded as a mystical and supernatural disease…It is a respiratory viral infection…It’s not something completely new, COVID.”

For all of us, events of the last six months have been hard on our morale and mental balance. Humans cannot thrive in isolation. We miss sharing our morning coffee, yoga classes and church groups, music and theater. We miss all the cultural activities that make our community a great place to live.

Let us empathize with neighbors whose factual opinions, as well as their physical conditions, may be different from our own, though we share benevolent human values. More than ever, this is a time to appreciate our member community, and especially the dedicated Co-op staff.

If you would like to learn more, ask questions or give feedback, please join me and others for a Zoom call on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. If you are interested in attending this call, please email doug.zork@att.net and I’ll add you to the list of attendees.

Minority Report — Resources for further study of COVID-19 opposing views: