George Will on COVID: ‘Safety is not the only value in life’

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — As more people join the chorus of Americans asking how we will move on from the COVID-19 pandemic, NewsNation contributor and Pulitzer prize winning journalist George Will said the devil may be the high standards we say we want to meet.

“There’s a sense in which our intelligence is bewitched by our language,” Will said Monday on “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “We commonly say, and it’s healthy to say, ‘Life is priceless.’ We don’t believe that. If life were priceless, we’d ban left turns for automobiles. For that matter, we’d ban automobiles, at least those go more than, say, 15 miles an hour.

“Life is a series of often tragic tradeoffs. We can’t sacrifice all our children to the pursuit of pure safety with regard to COVID. Pure safety is is simply a way of not thinking and making judgments anymore.”

The debate flames were stoked after journalist Bari Weiss said on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” that she was, “Done with COVID.” It drew rebukes from some scientists and commentators on CNN and MSNBC that slammed her thinking as “selfish.”

Yet, some might view Weiss’ line of thinking — which aligns with conservatives she opposes on other issues — as a sign that pandemic fatigue is becoming a bipartisan issue.

“In trying to deal with COVID, we’ve stopped learning the lesson of adult life, which is: Everything is a tradeoff. Make them sensibly,” Will said.

The risk of a child dying from COVID-19 is lower than an adult’s but is not zero, and the omicron variant has sent more children than ever to hospitals. Though some argue that with vaccines available for most children and more treatments expected this year, even more cautious parents could soon have the tools they need to keep their kids safe.

A vaccine for children younger than 5 is not expected to be approved until March.

Dr. Scott Gottleib, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said on CNBC that he’d like to see goal posts for removing mask and vaccine mandates as the omicron variant subsides, which modelers have predicted could happen by next month.

Will said getting Americans back into the swing of pre-pandemic life is a vital step.

“Safety is not the only value in life. Teaching our children that other children and other human beings are primarily vectors of disease, that is not healthy. The idea that everything should be sacrificed to safety is an extremely distorted, and at the end of the day, inhumane view of human life.”

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