Audiences laugh when Sancho Panza, a sage but servile character in the musical “Man of La Mancha,” observes that “whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it’s bad for the pitcher.” A paraphrase of that aphorism — regarding community spread of the coronavirus and the elderly, particularly those in nursing homes — might be sadly apt these days.

From Norton, Kansas, to La Crosse, Wis., public health officials and owners and operators of long-term care facilities are watching with dread the predicted Covid-19 surge occurring in communities across the country and surrounding the aged, sick, and injured in institutions.

And while some extreme theorists — including in the White House — argue for a pandemic response that claims the vulnerable can be protected (say, in nursing homes) while the healthy should, doggone it, just get sick with the coronavirus and get it over with, common sense and evidence are laying waste to the risky “let’s let Covid-19 blaze so herd immunity takes effect” theory.