Bob Roth

The time traveling adventure film “Back to the Future” is one of my all-time favorites. A familiar chorus in the Roth household is, “Roads? Where we’re goin’, we don’t need roads.”

Honestly, these days with more time to ponder, I have definitely fantasized about jumping into my imaginary DeLorean and traveling back a few months. As the hero in my own pandemic adventure movie, I would change the initial messaging regarding masks and make the communal senior living facilities top priority. Can you picture Doc Brown pressing me on this? “Bobby, the kids — we’ve got to get to the kids and save the grandparents.”

Starring in your own action movie doesn’t seem like such a far reach when the current global events unfold like a medical science fiction movie. Hollywood could not have scripted this any better.

Early on, in order to preserve masks for the health care community, the dictate is no masks required unless you are COVID-positive or symptomatic. And then it becomes crystal clear that this virus is spreading, not only by coughs or sneezes, but by gossip between neighbors, cheering for your favorite team, singing at choir practice, flirting at bars or digging out the last rep at the gym.

Literally, our communication is how this virus is transmitted, even if you don’t feel sick. And to cloud the clinical picture further, you may never feel sick while you are spreading the virus everywhere your breath and voice can take you.

Enter Doc Brown and Bobby into the opening scene of my imaginary movie: “Doc, tell all public health officials it is imperative that they retain control of the mask dictates as it is quite likely they will change. Don’t let this issue become political, because the virus doesn’t have a voter registration card.”

The antagonist is the virus, not the messenger, and when (not if) the message changes, we are united in a common goal to contain and eradicate the enemy.

The next scene opens with the president, played by Michael Douglas, presiding over a Zoom meeting with all the states’ governors. His message is delivered with composure and an unwavering determination to serve our greatest generation. Our federal government has elevated all communal senior living facilities to a status equal to that of hospitals. By doing so they will be prioritized to receive personal protective equipment, tests and infection control education.

The president closes the scene with a poignant message: “My father, of blessed memory, is at peace knowing that I have protected all the bubbes and zaydes.”

Scene three has governors addressing bipartisan representatives in the 18-35 age demographic. They say, “You must take this virus seriously. It will require patience and diligence. When possible maintain physical distance, stay at home and exercise good hand hygiene. Wearing your face coverings will convey your commitment to those who have sacrificed for you. You are warriors, and it is your shield. You are not invincible, but your actions have consequences both intended and unintended.”

Doc Brown is invited to speak, and his final words to the kids are identical to those he spoke in Back to the Future Part III: “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So, make it a good one.” JN

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