People who maintain their primitive, roving habits may run away from the problem of home sanitation; and with them, the spread of contagious disease is naturally limited to a small community. But with the settled mode of life and the manifold associations of civilization, the need of thorough sanitation and strict quarantine is apparent. Yet, many intelligent and well-disposed people fail to appreciate this fact; and there are those who, while they believe in enforcing the quarantine regulations against others, are themselves inclined to resist such restrictions. Even in large cities, where strict health regulations and close inspection are the rule, it is sometimes possible for a family to conceal contagious disease, and thus, escape quarantine. This concealment may be with full knowledge of the disease, or possibly with only a suspicion of it, and a fear to call in a physician, lest it result in the establishment of quarantine. Certainly, this result would be a great inconvenience to the family quarantined, but what of the other alternative, and the moral responsibility of the family to society? There are heads of families who, when quarantined, seem to think that the public health laws are enacted especially for their annoyance. If possible, to escape, they would not have a flag up; and after it is up, if the disease is in a mild form, they perhaps fail to report subsequent cases, and seek to have the quarantine raised as soon as possible. They have no thought, apparently, of the fact that a very mild case in its last stages may be the means of spreading an epidemic of the disease, and that others may have it in severe form, causing innocent people immeasurable physical suffering and mental anguish…The Infinite Wisdom alone can tell the amount of personal annoyance, sickness, and death that may result from one little act of selfishness. Is it not worth thinking about?1
What a year it’s been! It began with the hoarding of toilet paper, mandated closure of service-oriented businesses, and then a directive to stay home — quarantined, if you will. In a recent search for pioneer recollections of Antelope Island, I stumbled upon an article contained within the same March 1907 issue of the Improvement Era2. The quote above is an excerpt from that article. Do you see opinion about public health in that dated editorial?
It is true! We’ve all grown Coronavirus-weary. We now automatically reach for a face mask when leaving our cars to shop. We’ve limited the numbers that gather in social and family settings. We’ve cancelled large public events. We’ve heard enough COVID-19 updates on TV.
That said, let’s all stay together during this marathon. Things should start to improve in just a few months, as more of us are vaccinated. Take one more breath, and let’s finish the race.
Mayor Mike Gailey
- “The Ethics of Quarantine and Home”; Milton Bennion, Professor of Philosophy, University of Utah; The Improvement Era, Vol. X, No. 5, March 1907
- The Improvement Era was a periodical published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 1897-1970.