Winter is Coming: We Should Follow the Covid Golden Rule

by | Oct 30, 2020


TL;DR: I propose a “Covid Golden Rule” which consists of asking ourselves the question, “Am I being part of the problem or part of the solution?”

The Covid-19 pandemic sucks. It has sucked for a long time. And it’s likely going to suck for a lot longer. While the weather has been warm we’ve been able to stay safe while seeing family, friends and co-workers outdoors. Unfortunately, the weather turning cold means gathering outside is getting difficult and indoor interactions are much more dangerous than those outdoors. The holiday season is almost upon us and we want to gather with family and friends. We’re tired of Covid and ready to return to normal.

But, cases and hospitalizations are spiking which is exactly the opposite of what we want to be happening heading into the winter. Germany and France just announced national lockdowns. If we don’t get our act together here in the U.S. we may be facing a lockdown as well.

Source: Axios

What do we need to do in order to avoid a lockdown, be able for our kids to attend school in-person, and go about our lives with some semblance of normalcy? Each of us needs to act so that we are part of the solution rather than the problem.

Let me explain.

In August there was a single wedding in rural Maine that was traced to 170 Covid cases and seven deaths. Notably, nobody at the wedding died. Rather, the seven people who died contracted the virus further down the chain of transmission and six of the deaths occurred in Wisconsin. What this wedding teaches us is that the virus spreads far and wide and you have no idea who its going to end up infecting or killing.

I’ve heard people say “I’m not worried about getting Covid, I am healthy and I don’t think I’ll get very sick.” That may be true (or maybe not). But it’s not just about you and whether you’ll get sick. It’s not just about your own weighing of the risks. Instead it’s about whether or not you’re going to be part of the chain of people who spread the virus or not. The problem is that if you get Covid, you may to spread it to someone else who might then spread it to someone else who then may spread it to five other people, one of whom might die.

So, getting Covid isn’t just about you.

As Americans we value individual freedom and liberty. And rightfully so. But the path to keeping the country open and controlling the virus lies in us valuing our collective health rather than thinking of ourselves. Here’s what Dr. Fauci had to say about this point a few weeks ago:

“There’s this attitude that public health measures are getting in the way of opening up the country,” Fauci, the country’s most prominent infectious disease expert, told STAT. “It’s exactly the opposite. In a prudent way, the public health measures are the gateway, the vehicle, the pathway to opening the country. That’s the point that gets lost in this that’s so frustrating.”

I propose a “Covid golden rule” that involves framing our actions based on this question: “am I being part of the problem or part of the solution?” What does that look like? You already know, but it’s hard. It means not gathering indoors, which sucks, but is part of the solution. It means not hosting or attending holiday parties indoors. It means wearing a mask (which is mainly for the protection of others), which is uncomfortable and sucks, but is part of the solution. These things suck, but doing otherwise means that we’ll have a very bad winter: more sickness, more deaths, no kids in school, more businesses going under, and so on.

However, nobody’s perfect and judging and shaming each other isn’t the answer. We should just try to follow the Covid golden rule: be part of the solution.


  1. You and Immanuel Kant are on the same page: It is our duty to act in such a manner that we would want everyone else to act in a similar manner in similar circumstances towards all other people. Kant expressed this as the Categorical Imperative. Act according to the maxim that you would wish all other rational people to follow, as if it were a universal law.

  2. Thank you!

  3. Another one of my favorites. Thanks,

  4. Yes!!!!

  5. It gets to the point, John. Many thanks !

  6. Well said, thank you!

  7. Nice reminder.


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