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The coronavirus is not a political entity

You can see them only with a microscope.

Viruses are essentially an assortment of genetic code encased in a coat of protein. Viruses infect cells, hijack the machinery of the cell and make more copies of themselves.

A virus can’t vote. Viruses — as far as we know — don’t belong to any American political party. They can’t use Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat.

A decade ago — even two years ago — the concept that a collection of genetic code could become politicized and used by any number of different special interest groups would have seemed, if impossible, then certainly absurd.

Yet, here we are.

During the past week a string of county sheriffs across the state have issued missives regarding how they will not enforce mandates from Gov. Kate Brown regarding some aspect of her COVID-19 restrictions. The assorted epistles were issued even though Brown, as far as we know, never directed any county sheriff to enforce any type of COVID-19 mandate.

But the communiques from the sheriffs continue an ongoing, deep distrust of authority by many Americans and Oregonians that is as American as baseball and apple pie.

Part of the American ethos revolves around distrusting government — in any form — and just as important to our national collective consciousness is the concept of individual rights.

Those two elements of our nature — coupled with false information — have combined to create a situation where a microscopic virus has become a politicized issue, not much different than health care, the economy and foreign policy.

Perhaps it was inevitable. Hard to say.

The nation, the state, the community have spent a large amount of time focusing on the political aspects of the virus and it is time to start asking different questions and do a focus check.

The task at hand is a COVID-19 pandemic that is, in many cases, deadly and spreads easily and rapidly. The second issue is the capability of our entire medical system to respond to a pandemic, whether it is COVID-19 or some other pathogen.

Hospitals are, indeed, becoming packed with COVID-19 cases. They are running out of room. The key question should be — and until now hasn’t been — why?

It will seem at first glance to have an easy answer — because there are not enough beds. Why?

If one does not want to be vaccinated then that is one’s choice, but the emphasis now must be on how to stop the pandemic, not politicizing it. It’s a virus. Not a political entity.