Mike Rowe Encourages ‘Sensible’ Middle Ground to Dealing with COVID

Photo from Mike Rowe’s Instagram

Mike Rowe Encourages ‘Sensible’ Middle Ground to Dealing with COVID

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

Former DIRTY JOBS host Mike Rowe is known for his sense of responsibility and down-to-earth responses to many of the world’s problems. Rowe encouraged Americans to find a “sensible approach” to the COVID-19 pandemic after an emotional post on his Instagram.

“Far be it from me to instigate a food fight between the extremes, but I will say this — somewhere between the ‘Safety Firsters’ and ‘Covid-Hoaxers,’ there’s got to be a sensible approach to living in a dangerous world that’s eventually going to kill us all,” Rowe wrote, continuing the conversation on his website. “That approach, in my opinion, is ‘Safety Third,’ a friendly alternative to ‘Safety First.'”

In 2014, Rowe told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the inspiration behind his two-word motto, “Safety Third.” Rowe said it is his way to remind people that their safety is their responsibility rather than expecting another person or government to keep them out of danger.

“When I say ‘safety third,'” Rowe told Gupta, “it’s such a ridiculous thing to hear, that it takes you out of your pattern—at least it did with my crew—and it was the way we reminded each other, ‘Look, it doesn’t matter. Just because you’re in compliance doesn’t mean you’re out of danger.'”

In his most recent blog post, Rowe explained why he believes Americans can’t live in fear and bow—without critical thought—to the many stringent restrictions that, much like the virus, also adversely affect society.

“Four hundred years ago, one hundred and two Pilgrims climbed aboard an eighty-foot boat and sailed three-thousand miles through violent seas to a place they’d never even seen, just so they could worship the God they believed in,” Rowe wrote. “Forty-five of them died along the way. Nearly half! But somehow, they endured. And thanks to them, we not only have a Thanksgiving to celebrate, we have a country to call home.”

Rowe continued to reflect on the idea of safety and called for people to assess the consequences of both the extremes regarding people’s response to COVID-19.

Rowe wrote:

I wondered in that moment, how the Pilgrims felt when they boarded the Mayflower? I wondered if their Captain assured them that “their safety was his priority?” And then I wondered, what would they make of our reaction to this virus today? What would they think of our decision to lock down our houses of worship, along with everything else, in order to fight a disease that might wind up killing a fraction of a percentage of the population? A disease far less deadly than the plagues they dealt with every year?


“Safety Third” is not a call to take unnecessary risk, it’s just another way to say, “be careful out there, but not so careful that you’re unable to function.” It’s also a good-natured reminder that nothing worthwhile in the long history of our species has ever been accomplished by those whose who were unwilling to assume some degree of risk.

When lockdowns first began back in May, Rowe expressed a similar idea to conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. 

“We’re all hard-wired to adapt and adjust our behavior to the circumstances around us. There are times when putting safety above all things makes absolute sense, but there has never been a time where arbitraging everything else out of the equation — and venerating safety to the point that nothing else is even allowed to be discussed — there’s never been a point in our history, at least as I understand it, where that’s made a lick of sense,” Rowe said. 

“I think most of the country is going to come through this with the realization that we’re being treated like children and we’re being fed platitudes, bromides, and bowls of warm milk by people who want us to look at them as parents,” Rowe added.



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