By Adam Crumbliss
I grew up in the heart of Missouri Republicanism. I've clung to the common sense values of my hometown of Joplin. These values are best articulated by the President of my youth, Ronald Reagan. "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
Fast forward several years. I spent 20 years of my career working for the Republican-controlled statehouse before moving to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. I've never lost my Show Me skepticism, and my work is guided by another Reagan quote, "Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."
The political left is wrong to believe that government can 'solve COVID,' while the political right is wrong to suggest nonsense conspiracy theories that COVID isn't real or vaccines cause it.
More than 638,000 Americans have died from COVID. That is nearly the same number of American combat deaths in the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War combined.
In the COVID battle, Reagan's maxim says it all for me: "We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone."
Last year, I was blasted by a city newspaper for allegedly downplaying COVID in a social media post I wrote when Missouri had 8 COVID deaths. Ironically, the post said, “I'm not down playing the impact of COVID. To the contrary, it's a stark reminder about our fears that it is outside of our span of our control.”
Fear is a powerful motivator. Be skeptical of those in and out of government that try to scare you into getting a vaccine. But, I hope to appeal to your better angels and suggest getting it.
As a leader of Missouri's team responsible for coordinating public response and vaccine efforts, we have been careful to not support fear-mongering or catering to the lowest common denominator.
I do believe data that shows the current Delta variant deluge in Missouri is real, is twice as infectious as last year, and is more likely to impact children and the unvaccinated. I keep a Reagan-Bush campaign button that says, “the time is now," and on COVID vaccines I certainly believe that.
Reagan was right. Government isn't the solution. The American people are.
For those skeptical or opposed to the vaccine, only be so because of facts and avoid nonsense. When was the last time your auto mechanic gave you golden financial advice? Stop listening to conspiracy theorists and pundits.
Talk to your doctor. If you don't have one, find one that is a straight shooter with good character. Make an informed decision that is best for you and your loved ones.
For those that want others to get the vaccine, don't pester, condescend, and belittle. These are our brothers and sisters, neighbors, church family, and friends.
In the end, government won't solve this problem, but as Reagan said, everyone can help someone.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Adam Crumbliss is director of Community and Public Health at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.