A group of southern Utah county commissioners recently wrote to Gov. Gary Herbert asking him to end statewide emergency actions designed to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. Their argument couldn’t help but remind me of a scene from the movie “Jaws” (1975). Maybe you remember it.
Chief Brody urges the mayor to issue an order closing the town beach because the shark is out there, somewhere, cruising silently beneath the surface. The city father responds that it would be impossible to issue the requested order, that the local business community would go ballistic. The Labor Day weekend is in progress, the biggest annual event in the local economy.
A few minutes later in the film, we all know that Chief Brody was right. The unseen danger was made real by a missing child and a red blotch in the surf, and the time for magical thinking was over.
Today, we are all standing on the beach, scanning the incoming waves. We’ve been warned about the approaching threat in the strongest terms by the scientific community, and advised about the steps we need to take now to be prepared for the approaching danger. And once again, a subset of community leaders, hostile to science and focused only on local interests, urges us to ignore the coming storm in favor of keeping our eyes focused firmly on the cash register.
Now, in our own moment, the time for magical thinking is over.
Scott Berry, Grover