1) If temperature screenings are done in lieu of wearing masks, temperature screenings are going to get many people infected. That's because contagious asymptomatic carriers do not have high temperatures. Unlike the flu, C-19 spreads to others during asymptomatic infection.
2) Getting many infected means we can expect more sick and dead people than we've seen so far if masks are not worn.
3) Lockdowns largely stopped this (at great economic and social cost to the middle class), but
a) Lockdowns of the public (at their great sacrifice) were supposed to be used by government (mainly federal and to a lesser extent state) to use the lockdown time-period to do three things: 1) get and distribute low-cost or free PPE to everyone that wanted it (especially N95 masks) 2) get and distribute early (back in February or March) a free nationwide accurate test in order to identify (asymptomatic carriers), quarantine and hopefully heal many of the infected 3) lead the people in changing the way we live (wearing masks, social distancing, no large crowds, etc).
Federal and state government have failed miserably in Points 1 and 2 and have done marginally on Point 3 due to mixed messages in the media.
b) It is inexcusable that, in America today, five months after the federal government knew about C-19, it is impossible to buy, for any amount, a simple 3M N95 mask. Where are they?
4) Now, governments have essentially decided to risk a substantial C-19 infection in order to preserve the economy, and do so without doing the three points mentioned above.
a) I'm not judging which is better, preserving the economy or preserving public health, but governments should not soft-sell the decision that's been made, and accept the consequences that will come as a direct result.
b) There was a right way to do this, but the federal and state governments didn't do their jobs, and they may have squandered much of the people's trust.
5) Get used to your masks, unless you want bilateral multifocal pneumonia.
6) As we walk around in public today, we have no wild idea who's sick, and who's healthy, never did and probably never will.
7) We're not going to get what we like, and we're not going to like what we'll get.
8) This is a virus. It's real. It kills people. There's no recognized effective treatment, and no vaccine, and neither truth will change in 2020 nor realistically for 18-24 months. There's no evidence that getting this confers any immunity to re-infection or that any such thing as "herd immunity" will ever be achieved.
On last thing — getting it symptomatically creates permanent damage to the lungs and other organs, even if you survive.
C-19 is this generation's polio, but with the twist of targeting the elderly instead of the young. The severity of the damage is enough that any hospitalization is a bar to enlistment for the Department of Defense. That means the damage is both real and irreversible.
So, please, wear a mask and avoid C-19 as much as you are able while still earning a living. Stay home, if possible, once you show symptoms. Build up your immune system now.
Oren Sprague lives near Waynesville. He is a West Point graduate, U.S. Army retiree and has experience working with pandemics and infectious diseases.