To the Antigo Journal:

 In response to Mr. Alfonso’s and other letters to the ADJ protesting the “violation of constitutional rights” in requiring social distancing and closing of non essential businesses to control the spread of COVID-19 in a world-wide pandemic, I feel compelled to point out that no one has a “constitutional right” to spread contagious diseases to others! 

Mr. Alfonso is a former history teacher - he was my history teacher - and I am disturbed that he is ignoring public health statutes and public safety laws which have been implemented and proven effective for over a hundred years.

Do you recall “Typhoid Mary” She was an Irish-American cook named Mary Mallon Brown, who was an asymptomatic carrier of Typhoid Fever in the late 1800s. 

She spread Typhus to at least 51 people, and at least three died (history records “at least” because she changed names and moved frequently to avoid detention, all the while working as a cook). She was forcibly quarantined and died in isolation in 1938 and she remained a carrier of the disease. Other asyptomatic carriers were also forcibly quarantined. Constitutional violations? Think again.

Do you recall the Influenza pandemic in 1918? Again, well documented history. Public gatherings were banned, visitations to hospitals were curbed. No one protested that their “constitutional rights” were being compromised, they were too busy dying and trying to spare their loved ones’ horrible deaths and hoping that public health officials could pick up the bodies of their children from the street for burial soon.

Do you recall when TB rages throughout crowded cities and the rich fled to the country or the seashore to escape this scourge while the poor died in huge numbers?  Mr. Alfonso and I both lived through the polio epidemics when polio attacked young and old alike in the summers and beaches, movie theaters and large gatherings were banned. No one cried out for their constitutional rights to spread disease.

They cried for their loved ones who became ill, crippled or died and they complied willingly with public health experts, however insufficient the medical knowledge and defenses may have been at that time. Thank God for the scientists and doctors who worked tirelessly to learn more about these scourges  and developed workable plans to slow the spread of the diseases and develop treatments and vaccines. These are the very types of people whom are being ignored, attacked and fired by the Trump administration today.

Moving to public safety laws here are two key examples: We are not allowed to drive at 150 miles an hour on the highways or drink and drive because of risks to ourselves and others. A violation of our constitutional rights? Absolutely not.

It is apparent that we have become a divided population with many choosing to be deliberately ignorant, selfish and foolish. How have we become so divided? Several websites I have visited are designed to divide us and provoke anger through misleading propaganda and downright lies. 

Many of these websits have been proven to be infiltrated by Russia and other foreign influences-all designed to weaken the United States and shift the balance of power in the world. 

People have become their agents of divisiveness. Get off these deceptive and misleading websites and pay attention to the real experts. Behave like a decent citizen committed to the facts and the scientific realties. Read well respected experts and authors and not shady website content.

Our great-grandparents and grandparents would be ashamed of the protests and the selfish responses to the current crisis. They who survived two world wars, the 1918 Influenza pandemic, polio epidemics, the Depression, rationing of food, clothing and essentials without bitterness of divisiveness. They pulled together for the good of the country. History proves that we can survive these challenges and become strong together.

Lori Fermanich