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Letter: Where our COVID-19 terminology falls short

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Letter to the editor

Deseret News

I am an avid hiker, backpacker, rock climber and skier. But if I were to die from COVID-19, I would be described as “female, between the ages of 70-85, with underlying conditions.” Gives a different image, doesn’t it?

Words matter. And thus I am concerned about two COVID-19-related phrases our state employs that are simply wrong.

When we move from orange to yellow to green, we talk about “risk.” Green is “new-normal risk,” while yellow is “low risk.” Yet these levels have nothing to do with risk; in fact, Utah’s contagion rate is now one of the highest in the nation. The colors simply reflect whether there’s a bed available for you in the intensive care unit.

Also disingenuous is the three-week “recovered” statistic. “Recovered,” in this case, means “still alive.” Yet many COVID-19 sufferers have debilitating symptoms for months, some with permanent scarring to lungs and other organs.

We are asking people to wear masks and maintain a 6-foot margin. But where is the incentive to comply when told our risk is minimal?

I get opening up so people’s livelihoods are protected. But in this high-risk stage, please require — not suggest — that retail employees and customers wear masks.

Because words matter.

Marjorie McCloy

Salt Lake City