The Sufferings of Patient Zero

As a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, people around the globe were forced indoors and behind screens, creating an influx of social media participation. Along with the positives that quarantine may have brought in areas of time and leisure, it has also brought along various alterations to the life we have lived thus far. It is natural for people to want to attribute these sudden changes of isolation to someone, or something, but in certain cases, this attribution cannot be justified as nature. In Max’s article, “The Public Shaming Pandemic,” he tells the tale of the public shaming of a Polish gynecologist by the name of Dr. Rokita. Between the period of testing and receiving his results, Dr. Rokita did not preemptively quarantine, which I can personally understand, as it is logical to believe that it’s likely you wouldn’t be patient zero. In the face of a new style of life, it is unclear what measures of protection to take, and to expect someone to take the highest precaution without a clear understanding of the disease’s implications is excessive. When his results arrived, he volunteered to quarantine in a hospital setting to mitigate the effect he will have on his family. This act did not rectify his prior mistake of not quarantining in the period which he hadn’t received his results, and the surrounding polish community was unforgiving. Dr. Rokita committed suicide as a result of the communications he received. It’s unlikely that the mass hatred he received was not directly tied to personal motivations to make him more virtuous. It was preferred to offer blame than to centralize around recovery and progression from the outbreak. No one is more afflicted by the implications of the virus than he who first contracted it, and I perceive it as extremely irrational to virtually stone this man. I’d like to make the assumption that the level participation in this shaming has much to do with it being virtual, as the communications made do not have any immediately tangible consequences or implications.

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