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  • Writer's pictureDavid Redding


"Everyone is infected. Whether you're bitten or scratched by a walker or not, you will become a zombie once you die"

That’s what the last doctor alive at the CDC during the zombie apocalypse whispered into Rick Grimes’ ear right before he blew up the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters in the first season of the Walking Dead. Rick was surprised to hear that, given that his little tribe firmly believed the opposite—that you only became a zombie if you were bitten by another zombie. They had come to CDC for answers, but that wasn't what they thought they would hear.

Rick decided to keep that secret to himself rather than tell his people, believing that if they heard that there: a) was no cure for the zombie toxin threatening the human race and b) that everybody left alive already had it anyway, they would lose hope and disintegrate as a group. Reasonable minds can differ over whether that was the right decision.

When (13 episodes later) Rick was forced by circumstance to reveal what Dr. Jenner had told him, the members of his tribe were understandably irate. He may have had his reasons (and, in Rick’s mind, they may have been noble), but his followers didn’t believe that Rick had the right to keep that truth from them.

I think I would have been with them. Personally, I’d rather have known the truth, even if it was hard to take.

Now, I’m not trying to advance a conspiracy theory or even question the integrity of the CDC, but I am starting to wonder if we are having a life-imitating-art moment with COVID now

Whenever a government agency starts contradicting itself with overly-complex explanations my assumption is that it is trying to avoid revealing a simple but difficult truth, and the CDC has been contradicting the heck out of itself lately. Maybe, just maybe, the doctors are loath to publicly disclose the Walking Dead-ish truth that we are all going to be infected eventually, whether we get COVID by natural transmission or through vaccination—we are all going to get it.

If true, I can see why the CDC would do this. There a lot of people out there who are very afraid of catching COVID. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people who are very afraid of the COVID vaccination. Put those two groups together (and adjust for the group of people that are afraid both of catching it and the vaccine) and you have a lot of people who be terrified to learn that eventually we are all going to get COVID one way or the other—that it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when—and there is nothing anybody can do about that. Which would mean that we'd be better off focusing our resources on preparing for getting it rather than trying to control its spread.

Assuming that’s true (and I personally believe that it probably is), the CDC’s decision not to reveal it directly (and just try to confuse us instead) is likely the result of a well meant desire to avoid making things worse for the fearful. Like Dr. Jenner, it may have whispered the hard truth into the ears of the Ricks of our tribe and left it to them to decide when to tell the rest of us. And, at least so far, our Ricks haven’t done so.

I understand that impulse and reasonable minds may differ, but personally, I’d rather know the truth, no matter how hard it is to take.

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