Growing up, we learned the charming story of Isaac Newton resting under an apple tree. As he rested, an apple fell on his head and he immediately discovered gravity.
The story is a little more complicated, but,indeed, Newton developed the law of gravity. It was but one area in which Newton worked and we all are the better for it.
No doubt, we also learned the fanciful story of Benjamin Franklin and his kite and key during a Philadelphia thunder storm in 1752. Well, the basics of the story are true, but Franklin did not “discover” electricity, as we were led to believe. Electricity had been known for centuries. What he did do was show the presence of electricity in lightning — but he wasn’t the first to do so, he just had better press.
In more recent years, well within the lifetime of many readers, Jonas Salk, a virologist — maybe we could channel him to help fight the novel coronavirus — developed one of the first vaccines to protect against polio, which was a global epidemic at the time. Salk spent years and recruited thousands of researchers and countless volunteers in the effort to develop a vaccine that not only was effective, but also safe. The vaccine was announced on April 12, 1955, and efforts to vaccinate everyone began around the world.
Within 25 years, polio had been eradicated in the United States, and today, it is extremely rare worldwide.
FYI, Salk did not patent his vaccine in order to allow many labs around the world to manufacture it quickly. He was considered a hero, hailed in America and around the world.
Over the centuries, scientists have worked long, hard hours developing vaccines and medicines, ways to grow food in better ways and make life better, more enjoyable, more enriching. We are living longer, healthier lives thanks to scientists here and around the world.
Texas A&M and other universities around the country and the world employ hundreds and thousands of scientists working in a huge number of areas all meant to enrich the world.
There was a time when we hailed these scientists and their achievements.
Many Americans seem afraid of science and reject the advances it promises. Among those who fear science is our own President Donald Trump, who seems at war with the government’s best and brightest scientists such as Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the all-important Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. Fauci is known around the world as one of the leading experts in viruses.
As America deals with the novel coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that we need the best information and advice from experts such as Dr. Redfield and Dr. Fauci. The scientific information they provide no doubt has slowed the spread of COVID-19 and saved many lives.
Unfortunately, President Donald Trump needs to be the center of the fight against the coronavirus. He rejects the advice of the scientists, marginalizes their efforts and tries to keep the nation’s focus on himself. He continues to promise there will be an effective vaccine before the Nov. 3 Election Day, or shortly thereafter. Every reputable scientist says that just won’t happen, that the end of the year or early in 2021 is a more accurate projection.
We hope the president is right, but we trust the information provided by the scientists more.
Until there is an effective vaccine available for everyone, there is much we can do to slow the spread of the coronavirus and keep us and our families safe. Foremost among the best things we should do is to wear a mask when around others. Wear one every time you go shopping or anytime you are around others. Wear a mask until you are seated and ready to eat or drink in a restaurant. Masks may not be comfortable, but they do save lives.
The president has urged Americans to wear masks, but routinely ignores his own advice. He almost never wears a mask, even when visiting a place where they are required by law and where everyone else around him is wearing a mask. What a powerful message it would be if the president routinely donned a mask while in public.
Instead, he holds mass indoor rallies with thousands of his supporters standing shoulder to shoulder — no social distancing for them — with few masks in sight. When asked, those supporters say God will protect them or Donald Trump will protect them, the masks are uncomfortable and the virus is a hoax — ask the loved ones of the almost 200,000 Americans who died from COVID-19 if it is a hoax. The problem is not that they are exposed to the virus — they refused to listen to the scientists — but that they can pass it on to loved ones, friends, coworkers and others.
The president must remember that he isn’t just the president of his millions of loyal supporters, but rather the president of all of us. Please, President Trump, leave the proclamations about the coronavirus to the scientists who know what they are talking about. Stay safe and wear mask whenever you are out in public and urge everyone to follow suit, to stay 6 feet apart and to wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time.
Doing so, you will save countless lives — probably many of them who will vote for you on Nov. 3.
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