George Pyle: The cavalry can’t save you if you’re already dead

(AP file photo) In this undated photo, John Wayne appears during the filming of "The Horse Soldiers."

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the cavalry is coming.

It would be nice if some of us were still alive when it got here.

John Wayne would be very displeased indeed if, after a day in the saddle, riding at a breakneck pace through the desert, he arrived to find that we’d all wandered off, unarmed, no longer caring whether we, or our neighbors, lived or died, leaving our sorry carcasses for the buzzards, just because we were tired of waiting.

He would wonder why we didn’t have more faith, and show more responsibility, and just wear a mask.

Fear that the coronavirus plague would go on basically forever might explain why it seems to be harder to get enough people to take the necessary safety steps such as wearing masks, keeping our distance, avoiding large groups of people and essentially staying the hell home.

For the reasonable among us, it hasn’t been a resistance so much as fatigue.

Word that pharma giant Pfizer, building on work done by a German-based lab run by two children of Turkish immigrants, may be on the verge of providing an effective vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic is, as Fauci said, very good news.

It will be, if it works as well as we all hope it does, the most important tool for getting life back to something resembling normal and cutting off the rapid rise in cases.

A rise that stuck Utah alone with almost 4,000 new positive tests Thursday and added nine new souls to the state’s death toll.

The immediate risk is that word of a medicine that will smash the rapid spread of this debilitating, even when not deadly, disease might cause people all over the world, and in Utah particularly, to pay even less attention to necessary lifesaving behavior than we have been.

Fauci, the nation’s top expert in infectious diseases — and, as a very smart person, a thorn in the side of the soon-to-be former president of the United States — expressed hope that, rather than give up our virus-fighting efforts, we might be wise enough to buckle down even more in hopes that it would be over soon. Sort of.

“The cavalry is coming but don’t put your weapons down," Fauci told an audience at a Thursday panel discussion. "You better keep fighting because they are not here yet. Help is on the way, but it isn’t here yet.”

Complaints that state mandates, orders, suggestions, of any type, for us to wear masks when away from home, avoid groups, stay out of bars, gyms and coffee shops, are some kind of Stalinistic impositions on our constitutional rights are insane.

It is the government’s duty to have all of us do our part to protect the lives of fellow citizens. We stop at stop signs. We don’t drive 90 mph in a school zone. We don’t pee on the sidewalk, no matter how much we might want to, because our wants don’t outweigh the needs of other people.

Caring about other people is not dictatorship or socialism. It is civilization. People who refuse to do their part, especially when it is such a relatively minor inconvenience compared to being crowded out of an overflowing intensive care unit, aren’t free. They are bullies.

The argument that masks and distancing are matters of personal choice and individual responsibility is utterly without merit. Following the directives of our medical experts does not just help the individual in the center of his or her own little fog bank. It can be life or death to your family and people you don’t even know.

We all want to go to work, to go to school, to go out to eat, to go to Jazz games and karaoke nights.

The new vaccine might make all of that possible. If we’re still here when it arrives.

George Pyle

George Pyle, editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune, misses the upper level of the Salt Lake Roasting Company more than he can say.