Now that the 2020 election campaigns are over and the first edge of the COVID-19 tsunami has reached Knox County, hopefully everyone who has the public ear, whether in government or private groups, will make every effort to lessen the virus impact this winter.

This includes decreasing both illness and death, and increasing support for businesses and workers.

It is now crucial to promote and enforce the new state mask mandate. Lax promotion, in a context of unenforced guidelines, has made the county’s situation worse than it had to be, but there is time to lessen the impact.

While everyone has the right to an opinion, the support-for-the-economy-via-lax-virus-measures approach has led to more cases and thus deaths. It would be more honest to say, “I support herd immunity and place no priority on the more than half of the population who are most at risk when contracting the virus.”

The current strategy — by virus magical thinkers, political parties, business groups and people who are at lower risk of getting seriously sick — actually serves to decrease business. Limited anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a lot of anger out there at what is seen as a tacit designation of certain groups as being more expendable, as collateral damage. Certainly these include seniors (and not just in care facilities), people with a range of preexisting conditions, including obesity, and a range of frontline workers.

I wonder what the economic hit has been on Knox County, where many people have incomes that are greater than expenditures on basics, not to mention assets. If one is playing the odds (due to high chances of death), an establishment with unmasked employees or customers may not be visited again. A street with many potential virus shedders may be totally avoided. A place that has a reputation for actually following herd immunity may not be patronized even once.

This is happening. Reputations are being made. The cost? Likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, at the least, have already been withdrawn from the local economy.

There is also an unquantifiable portion of this thought that is taking on an aspect of ‘payback,’ via withholding patronage and spending, which will extend into a future without the virus.

Please understand, this is not an endorsement, but an attempt at a description; consumption practices are changing.

True, many people — in all groups — are helping others in many ways, including financially. So too, without more help from federal and state levels there is a need for more, and for coordination to ensure that all in need are reached. Many people have fallen through the cracks. What are the priorities here, and who is setting them?

The organized “supporters” of business could be more vocal on the measures needed to help save businesses; in today’s context, this could even be seen as courageous. As it is, when an unmasked person enters an establishment — recently, at one pharmacy, a young man even showing a “try-to-stop-me” attitude — notice the concerned faces of owners, employees and customers.

Just after my pharmacy experience, a masked young man approached on a side street in Rockland, keeping distance, and asked if he could use my phone. I hesitated. “I know, I know,” he said, “COVID, it’s okay.” I made the call for him — to his grandmother. The man had left his car in Lincolnville, gotten a ride to Rockland for his job, but his employer then said that he was not needed for the day: Could his grandmother pick him up at McDonald’s on Maverick Street? Look at his situation: no phone, no work for the day — and not for lack of effort — and facing a long walk back to somewhere.

Why has this tragic situation not been publicized, even on a small scale, let alone on the huge scale shown in support of partisan election advertising?

Perhaps the very nice young people who were paid $20 an hour by political campaigns — five showed up separately at my door, for one candidate! — could be hired to give out an information sheet and free masks.

Heroes and anti-heroes. Think what you want, but a conscious choice is necessary, especially since one option supports herd immunity (death) — often out of a herd mentality.

Judy Pasqualge, Rockland