But the reality is that many Americans are now consciously choosing to spread death and suffering over finding the strength to endure for a few more months. And they aren’t just harming themselves: They are putting unimaginable strain on the country’s health-care system, as burned out doctors, nurses, and staff ask themselves why they are martyring themselves on behalf of such a venal society.

Don’t believe me? If you have friends or loved ones who work in health care, ask them how they’re doing. I reached out to some of the medical professionals in my network, and the responses were sobering. “Many of my colleagues (the including me),” said one pediatrician friend, “have had their faith in humanity irreparably damaged by our countrymen’s response to this challenge.” One viral immunologist told me that, “I feel upset with these folks because this is inevitably going to cause more death and harm and not just to them but others who did stay home and followed guidelines.” He added that much of the blame rests with national and state political leaders determined to play down the gravity of the problem so they could rush economic re-openings. A palliative medical counselor said that the staff at her facility “is wonderful but furious when it is the patients’ reckless behavior that puts them in the ICU for COVID.” Fury gives way to exhaustion and resignation. “They still provide superhuman care,” she says, “but it’s only human to be frustrated.”