One month ago, I wrote a post on this blog about the coming COVID-19 storm. I wanted to take the feelings I had on that date and write them down as a sort of time capsule exercise. There were so many things were up in the air and so much uncertainty and stress at the time.
I knew that much of what I wrote would later be inaccurate - I’m sure I under and over-estimated plenty of things and left out important subjects.I simply wanted to write a contemporary account of how it felt at the time.
I’ve tentatively titled this post “Eye of the Storm,” but I’m unsure if that’s an appropriate title. We don’t know if this is the worst of the virus yet.
One thing above all is for certain - COVID-19 continues to kill people all over the world.
As of 4/28/20 - data from covidly.com
The Surgeon General warned in early April that “this is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment” - a sobering but accurate forecast.
2,403 Americans died at Pearl Harbor. September 11th claimed 2,996 lives.
In the month of April 2020, we lost over two thousand citizens in one day - 8 separate times.
There are many more deaths occurring that are not being accounted for yet. A year from now, we will know more of the true extent of the havoc wreaked by the virus
At the time of my last post (March 31), a large portion of the US still believed that the virus was similar to the flu, and stay-at-home orders were just beginning to take place in states across the country.
A great deal of skepticism still existed in the country in early April, but as the virus quickly ramped up and began killing over two thousand citizens per day, it seemed that everyone fell in line. The comparisons to the flu and automobile accidents suddenly vanished from the public sphere.
Despite constant veiled threats and confusion emanating from the executive branch towards various governors, states began to receive the supplies that they needed, and hospital systems in the USA were generally able to avoid being overwhelmed.
There is now a strong social pressure across the U.S. to be sanitary, to wear a mask in public, to avoid unnecessary travel and congregation, and I truly believe that most Americans are doggedly doing their part to hunker down and avoid spreading the virus.
Contrary to my last post one month ago, where I expressed frustration with the attitudes and actions of the American people, I am pleased to see the nation rally around medical experts and do their best to contain the virus.
Over the past two weeks, a few dozen protestors showed up in various states to protest being locked down. They carried signs, flags, and rifles - for what it’s worth, I think showing up with a gun is a uniquely odd way of protesting a virus.
A user on Reddit first noticed that all of the “Reopen” and “Liberate” social media posts and websites were being driven by the same organizations. If you’re interested in that story, read the Washington Post or Forbes articles about it. Suffice it to say, this round of protesting has mostly been driven by astroturfing and PACs.
This wave of protestors is entirely unimpressive. They wave Trump/MAGA/KAG/Confederate flags and display their AR-15’s. They float conspiracies about Bill Gates and 5G, and call for the resignation of Dr. Fauci.
But I will note here that I have been watching the protests carefully. It is very easy to say “those people are idiots for congregating during a pandemic.” I agree! They are being very reckless.
However - the right to freely assemble is a crucial right afforded to us. It should not be given up easily. If we demean those who assemble now, we risk not being able to assemble for protests in a more significant manner later.
For this reason, news of pastors being arrested or censured for carrying on with their services has made me deeply uncomfortable. Again - I think that anyone who goes to a crowded gathering right now is an idiot. I think anyone who hosts a crowded gathering is a dummkopf. But I am also very concerned that we are cracking down on peaceful assembly.
It’s a fine line to walk - in a scenario where we know that gatherings spread disease, it seems logical to ban gatherings. But gatherings of people drive politics and culture. The right to peacefully assemble and protest is sacred to me.
So let’s keep some empathy in mind as we move forward.
Yes, the current batch of protestors are mostly ill-informed people and they are laughably dismissable.
But the next batch of protestors may have a more serious message - perhaps they will demand a right to universal healthcare, or universal basic income, or better unemployment benefits, or better workplace conditions.
Let us be careful not to demean peaceful protests as we move forward.
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
- Justice Louise Brandeis
In America, we have structural issues with how we’ve constructed society - every country does, I am not singling us out.
We are very proud of our economy and military, and justifiably so - they are unmatched. They have dominated the world for a century. So, on an external level, America is excellent at what it does, and it can project power socially, culturally, economically, or militarily at any distance required.
We tend to avoid talking about the internal problems that plague us. Our people are fatter, unhealthier, and less-educated than many of our counterparts in the developed world. We do not offer universal healthcare to our citizens, and as a result, they die younger than in other industrialized countries.
Being rich (or even middle class) and in good health in America is generally a pretty cool experience. Being poor or sick is not.
Unfortunately, a large number of American people have historically been against the idea of helping the poor or sick by providing better welfare or universal healthcare.
Many of those same Americans are now at the mercy of the unemployment and healthcare systems.
It’s widely known that America has a sub-standard healthcare system. On virtually any ranking system available, the U.S. does not compare favorably with other developed nations. Anyone who has travelled out of the country can attest - it’s an awful system.
There are a few keys points about our healthcare system that tie directly into COVID-19, and that’s what I’d like to focus on.
Despite our exorbitant spending, the U.S. also ranks last among comparable countries on the HAQ index with a score of 88.7%. This means our citizens die of preventable causes at a higher rate than any other comparable nations, despite spending much more on healthcare.
Caveat: I think it will take a year or more for us to fully and accurately answer this question. What follows is pure conjecture.
We know that COVID-19 has been found to kill people at a higher rate when those people have comorbidities such as cardiovascular issues, obesity, or diabetes.
A total of 5700 patients were included (median age, 63 years). The most common comorbidities were hypertension (56.6%), obesity (41.7%), and diabetes (33.8%)
Outcomes were assessed for 2634 patients who were discharged or had died at the study end point. During hospitalization [...] 553 (21%) died.
Source - Journal of the American Medical Association - April 22, 2020
We also know that COVID-19 patients require a lot of hospital resources. According to a January study from Wuhan, China, patients hospitalized with COVID-19 require 11 days of care on average - seasonal influenza averages 5-6 days, by comparison.
We also know that the coronavirus spreads rapidly across populations and 20% of cases require hospitalization.
You’ve probably heard most of these stats before. What’s my point?
My point is that we’ve got a fat, unhealthy population saddled with pre-existing conditions with limited access to expensive healthcare that offers poorer-than-average outcomes even in good times.
We’ve also added skyrocketing unemployment to the mix - we still don’t know how many people in the United States are newly-unemployed, because the systems designed to handle unemployment are overwhelmed and unable to keep up with claim submissions.
The unemployed have been demonized and targeted for decades. The systems that support them have been marginalized, defunded, and certainly not given more resources than necessary.
As a consequence, unemployment benefits, and the welfare system in general, are rarely discussed in a positive, productive light. It is simply accepted as fact that the unemployed are less deserving of fulfilling lives, because they do not work.
And we’ve designed systems that keep welfare recipients alive at a bare minimum cost.
The CARES Act offers mortgage forbearance and protections for COVID-19 related financial hardships. They still want people to pay their mortgages, but if you can’t (and your request for forbearance is approved), you will be able to pause your mortgage payments for 180 days. No additional interest is accrued during this time.
I think mortgage forbearance is an excellent policy that will truly help a lot of people.
At the end of that 180 day period, we are going to see a wave of foreclosures and bankruptcies.
When the federal protection runs out at last, many home owners will be left out to dry.
Our national debt has exploded by trillions of dollars overnight. We are currently injecting liquidity into the market as much as humanly possible. The Federal Reserve’s (digital) printers are working overtime to cushion the fallout from an economic stoppage.
We aren’t far enough into the economic crisis side of things to judge it effectively. Consumers have stopped consuming, period. Retail sales dropped 8.7% in March - the biggest decline ever recorded.
Hey, want to see some other straight up and down graphs?
This won’t end well.
More layoffs and bankruptcies are coming, but they are still months away.
When I was in elementary school, I hated doing homework. I resented the intrusion on my time and I frequently would not turn in homework. When I did do it (rarely), I would rush through it as fast as possible, just trying to be done with it.
One day, after being told that I yet again had not turned in my homework, my mother sent me this story. It has stuck with me for my whole life, and it helps me when I’m tempted to leave something half-finished.
A highly skilled carpenter who had grown old was ready to retire. He told his employer of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire.
The employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter agreed to this proposal but made sure that this will be his last project.
Being in a mood to retire, the carpenter was not paying much attention to building this house. His heart was not in his work. He resorted to poor workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.
When the job was done, the carpenter called his employer and showed him the house. The employer handed over some papers and the front door key to the carpenter and said "This is your house, my gift to you."
The carpenter was in a shock! What a shame! If he had only known that he was building his own house, he would have made it better than any other house that he ever built!
We’ve built our house. Now we’re going to live in it.
Millions of people are now navigating the unemployment system and finding it to be a less-than-optimal experience.
Millions of people are paying for COVID-19 tests, treatment, and funeral costs. They will require weeks in the hospital. We don’t know the long term effects of COVID-19 yet - they may require after-care or develop chronic health problems. Some of them will go bankrupt attempting to pay for their care.
We are now faced with a problem that we cannot solve with a bomb, or with intimidation, or with sanctions. We now have to fix America, internally.
To bring this back to the carpenter analogy: We’ve ripped the poster of an F-35 off our living room wall and exposed the crumbling drywall underneath.
We have to pay attention to the small details that we were previously able to cover up.
It will be difficult and costly.
And half of our household, upon seeing the decaying drywall, will scream “JUST PUT THE F-35 POSTER BACK UP!”
Which brings us to Mr. Trump.
What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2020
Mr. Trump, the face of the federal response to the coronavirus, recently wondered aloud during a national briefing that perhaps injecting disinfectants or light was something worth looking into.
But this was not the first time that Mr. Trump has spread incorrect or dangerous information while on live national television. Let’s rewind the tape to mid-March.
Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that has been used by doctors against coronavirus, may be a treatment option for COVID-19. We don’t know that yet, but some doctors are prescribing it with various results.
In the USA, Veteran Affairs found that in their study, patients who received hydroxychloroquine died at over twice the rate of those who did not take the medication.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia.
In the study of 368 patients, 97 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a 27.8% death rate. The 158 patients who did not take the drug had an 11.4% death rate.
The jury is still out on hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness at treating the coronavirus. I think that in a normal world, that would be about the most I could write about the drug. It might work, it might not! We’ll see.
But, somewhat unbelievably, hydroxychloroquine has become a political talking point.
TRUMP: I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.
Unfortunately, the President of the United States is very comfortable with spitballing medical treatments during national briefings, which millions of Americans watch live.
TRUMP: I want them to try it, and it may work, and it may not work. What if it doesn’t work? It’s nothing lost by doing nothing. Because we know, long-term, what I want. I want to save lives. And I don’t want to be in a lab for the next year and a half as people are dying all over the place.
Laura Ingraham, a Fox host, visited Mr. Trump at the White House with two doctors who had been on her program promoting hydroxychloroquine, one of whom made a presentation on its virtues, according to an official, confirming a Washington Post report.
Source - NYTimes
Again, we’re talking about a medication that may or may not be helpful. I certainly hope it’s helpful! But we don’t know yet.
Why the focus on this one? Why did it turn into a weird political litmus test? Suddenly, every television guest needed to state their opinion on the hydroxychloroquine situation.
I’ll be honest - I truly don’t understand why or how this became political. I don’t know why Mr. Trump latched onto it, I don’t know why conservative outlets followed him. This is a storyline that really just did not make sense to me, and it still doesn’t.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents).....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2020
Mr. Trump fell silent last week after the VA study came out showing a higher rate of mortality with the drug vs without. He has not commented on the issue since - he has avoided questions about the drug at his recent briefings.
This behavior from Mr. Trump concerns me.
I don’t believe that the President needs to speculate on the efficacy of drugs in front of millions of viewers who are eager and desperate for information.
I think Mr. Trump has a habit of speaking before he thinks, and he also has a need to be right. This leads to his odd “doubling-down” behavior that we’ve witnessed throughout his Presidency. When an average person would admit a mistake and move on, the President will go to great lengths to convince people that he is right.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.
ACTING UNDER SECRETARY BRYAN: We’ll get to the right folks who could.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.
So we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s — that’s pretty powerful.
After a reporter asked him “is it dangerous for you to make people think they would be safe by going outside in the heat?” Mr. Trump erupted with frustration and said:
THE PRESIDENT: I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure. You know — but if you could. And maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. But I’m like a person that has a good you know what.
When the reporter tried to protest… honestly, I don’t need to describe this, you can read the official White House transcript.
REPORTER: But, sir, you’re the President.
THE PRESIDENT: Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?
DR. BIRX: Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
DR. BIRX: — is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as — I’ve not seen heat or (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a great thing to look at. I mean, you know. Okay?
REPORTER: But respectfully, sir, you’re the President. And people tuning into these briefings, they want to get information and guidance and want to know what to do.
THE PRESIDENT: Hey — hey, Phil.
REPORTER: They’re not looking for a rumor.
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Phil. I’m the President and you’re fake news. And you know what I’ll say to you? I’ll say it very nicely. I know you well.
The media went nuts after the briefing. Nobody, myself included, could believe that Mr. Trump was casually suggesting injecting disinfectant products on live national television.
The next morning, the White House Press Secretary tried to control the fallout by blaming the media.
“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing... Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
An admirable attempt at damage control. Many supporters of Mr. Trump took to social media to praise their President for suggesting unorthodox medical ideas. They unironically believed that Mr. Trump was making an astute observation.
They defended his comments and blamed the media for misinterpreting what he said. Many pointed to home remedies involving a capful of bleach as evidence that Mr. Trump was right.
Many supporters of Mr. Trump, including Fox News, Breitbart, and Rush Limbaugh quickly committed to the “dishonest media” narrative. There are many people are eager to rush in and explain away the President’s dangerous and ignorant comments.
“Trump used the word ‘inject’ but what he meant was using a process — which he left ‘medical doctors’ to define — in which patients’ lungs might be cleared of the virus, given new knowledge about its response to light and other factors,”
The Drive-By Media is attempting to persuade and convince people that Donald Trump told people to drink Drano at the White House press briefing yesterday.
- Rush Limbaugh
How can any adult believe seriously believe that he was saying, 'Hey, people should inject Clorox into their body'?
- Greg Gutfield
Mr. Gutfield’s comment highlights one of the themes of the Trump presidency. When Mr. Trump makes an obvious error in public view, we are told by conservative commentators that there’s just no way anyone would actually do [whatever he suggested]. Holding the 45th President of the United States accountable for his words is simply an unattainable goal.
Any time the President makes a mistake, he was either joking, taken out of context, mis-quoted, sarcastic, or he was actually making a different point, or you just don’t get it, or it was locker room talk, or he was just trolling.
Unfortunately for his ardent supporters and his current Press Secretary, Mr. Trump undermined their spin almost immediately in a press conference later in the day.
According to Mr. Trump, he was not intelligently speaking about a potential cure for the coronavirus - he was actually offering a sarcastic response to reporters.
Conservatives who had defended Mr. Trump’s statements as reasonable, measured, and responsible were now left in quite an awkward spot.
They had taken seriously a quote from the President that he apparently did not mean seriously.
Apparently, his idea was so clearly ill-advised that everyone should have picked up on his sarcasm.
Reporter, April 24: Can you clarify your comments about injections of disinfectant?
Trump: No, I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen... Did you hear about this yesterday? But I was asking a sarcastic — and a very sarcastic question — to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands and that would make things much better. That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters. Okay.
Any reasonable person who watched the briefing or read the transcript knows that Mr. Trump was clearly not being sarcastic. He was earnestly asking his experts to look into the matter.
On the evening of April 27th, as I began writing this article, Mr. Trump returned to his briefings and was asked the following:
REPORTER: Maryland and other states — Governor Larry Hogan specifically said they’ve seen a spike in people using disinfectant after your comments last week. I know you said they were sarcastic, but do you take any —
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t imagine why. I can’t imagine why. Yeah.
REPORTER: Do you yeah take any responsibility if someone were to die?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t. No, I can’t imagine — I can’t imagine that.
Mr. Trump’s tendencies towards denial and deflection leads me nicely into my next segment.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly straddled political issues that have arisen during the pandemic, alternating his positions frequently in a chaotic fashion.
The pandemic was first “a hoax,” “a flu,” then “totally under control,” it would “disappear like a miracle,” and we only had “15 people” infected.
When it became very clear that the virus was going to kill large swathes of Americans, Mr. Trump had suddenly always known it was a pandemic. He blamed the media for downplaying the virus in February - the exact same stance that he had at the time.
Mr. Trump blasted his predecessor, Mr. Obama, for leaving the federal government undersupplied with PPE. When New York asked the federal government for help, Mr. Trump publicly lambasted them for not having existing resources stockpiled.
Last month all you heard from the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats was, “Ventilators, Ventilators, Ventilators.” They screamed it loud & clear, & thought they had us cold, even though it was the State’s task. But everyone got their V’s, with many to spare. Now they scream....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2020
... “Testing, Testing, Testing,” again playing a very dangerous political game. States, not the Federal Government, should be doing the Testing - But we will work with the Governors and get it done. This is easy compared to the fast production of thousands of complex Ventilators!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2020
When the conversation turned to re-opening states for business, Mr. Trump was very eager to get everyone working again. He blamed the Democrat party for mass unemployment in America even as his administration recommended the very measures that shut businesses down.
He famously wanted the country to get back to work by Easter. When it became very obvious that Easter would be near the peak of deaths in the US, Mr. Trump attacked the media for having the gall to quote him, stating that Easter was an “aspirational” date.
When a backlash against Georgia re-opening began to develop, Mr. Trump had no qualms about jumping into the fray and bashing Governor Kemp.
I (or @VP) never gave Governor Brian Kemp an OK on those few businesses outside of the Guidelines. FAKE NEWS! Spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, & barber shops should take a little slower path, but I told the Governor to do what is right for the great people of Georgia (& USA)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2020
Mr. Trump made it very clear that the federal government would support states with supplies and guidance, but individual states were largely left to their own devices. States that did request help from the federal government were subject to ridicule and scorn, especially those with Democrat governors.
It would appear that Mr. Trump’s modus operandi during the pandemic has been to assume minimal responsibility for anything, to take as much credit as he can for successes, and to harass and attack anyone that he disagrees with.
Blame the Democrats for any “lateness” in your Enhanced Unemployment Insurance. I wanted the money to be paid directly, they insisted it be paid by states for distribution. I told them this would happen, especially with many states which have old computers.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2020
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, it was very clear that Mr. Trump was not interested in touching the issue. He would come to the briefings to talk about the stock market (which I do believe he is an expert on), and he would pass the baton off to Mr. Pence when it was time to talk about the pandemic.
You can go back and watch early briefings to see what I mean. He talks for a bit about the stock market, and then hands the briefing off. A couple weeks into the crisis, he began fielding questions about the pandemic, but still made it very clear that Mr. Pence was responsible for everything.
At this point, Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is predictable. He will not accept responsibility for his actions. He will not accept responsibility for his words.
April 23, REPORTER: Would you say — would you put a timescale on when you think this will —
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t want to put a timescale because then the — the media, the so-called — so-called “media” — “lamestream” media will say, “He said a time.” I don’t want to say times, because every time I say a time, if you don’t hit it, they’ll say — so I don’t want to talk about time.
These are not the traits of a leader. They are the traits of a very small man.
Ein sehr kleiner Mann, mit sehr kleinen Händen.
LIBERATE MICHIGAN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
LIBERATE MINNESOTA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2020
Mr. Trump called for the liberation of three states on April 17th, shortly after a few dozen protestors had shown up at state capitols to protest the lockdowns.
It’s unclear what he desired from these tweets - the states in question had implemented his administration’s guidelines. So did he want to liberate people from his own policies?
Mr. Trump is doing the nation no favors by taking partisan stands and attacking perceived enemies. The top priority of the executive branch in a time like this should be to reassure the public with consistent messaging, accurate updates, and timely information.
Instead, Mr. Trump continues to spend a large portion of his day on Twitter and watching television. He claims to be the hardest working President in history.
The people that know me and know the history of our Country say that I am the hardest working President in history. I don’t know about that, but I am a hard worker and have probably gotten more done in the first 3 1/2 years than any President in history. The Fake News hates it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2020
I don’t claim to be the hardest worker in the world, but I spend my day talking to colleagues, coding, and working on projects. I simply do not have time to tweet 28 times per day, or to watch multiple news shows and retweet their coverage.
Incredibly, Mr. Trump does have that time.
The President of the United States tweets, on average, 28 times per day.
He retweets long video clips and advises that his followers watch them. He spends a great deal of time preparing for and delivering his briefings.
He calls into Fox News shows morning and night and talks at length about his plans for the country and his hatred of his enemies.
Mr. Trump has spoken for over 28 hours in the 35 coronavirus briefings held since March 16th, according to analysis by Factba.se and the Washington Post.
[Since April 5th], the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump — including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4.5 minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. [...] Trump also said something false or misleading in nearly a quarter of his prepared comments or answers to questions, the analysis shows.
Trump has attacked someone in 113 out of 346 questions he has answered — or a third of his responses. He has offered false or misleading information in nearly 25 percent of his remarks.
These are not the actions of a leader.
I don’t really want to dedicate much time to diving into conspiracy theories, because there are simply too many of them, and arguing against them will most likely only annoy me.
Quick recap: As far as I can tell, there are two very popular theories floating around.
I’ll be honest - even typing those words has drained the fight out of me. I don’t think that writing about these theories, or spending time debunking them, is worth it. Those who believe such ideas will believe them regardless of this blog post.
You probably know a couple of people who believe in these things. My advice is to just let them be. They will believe what they want.
It’s very difficult to talk about the virus, and I think that’s led to a lot of the current infighting that we see in America.
The coronavirus has no feelings, no agenda, no ambitions. It simply latches onto a host and attempts to kill them.
We cannot reason with it. We cannot shoot it. We cannot pass legislation against it.
And that leaves us in an odd place. For the first time in a long time, Americans are having to tackle genuine policy issues. No longer can we cast all of our problems onto immigrants, or Iran, or socialism. We now have to confront the fact we are not very structurally sound, and we can’t bully the virus into submission.
It will be difficult to move forward as a nation. There will be a lot of missteps and errors made.
For me, I am most focused on watching the rights of workers as we move forward. Employees will soon be pressured to go back to work - if they don’t, they will eventually lose their unemployment benefits, and they won’t have access to healthcare.
I truly hope that the working class of this country is able to stand up and demand antibody testing, safe work environments, and continue working from home where possible.
My hope is that instead of having conversations about how we need to get back to work, we can instead talk about workplace safety, access to healthcare, increased sick leave, hazard pay, and better unemployment benefits.
That is my hope. I do not believe it will happen, sadly. I think that many companies will pay lip service to their workers while subjecting them to the same problems as before. I think that universal healthcare will be shunned, yet again. I think that a great deal of political messaging will revolve around “getting back to work” and we will not have meaningful discussions about the structural issues that have been exposed by this pandemic.
I hope that working from home becomes the norm for businesses that can support it. This is one hope I have that I believe is also realistic. Companies are seeing that remote work can be successful.
Most of all, I hope people stop dying. I hope we find a miracle cure. I hope we find a vaccine. I hope that we can stop being separated from friends and family by a virus.
I hope that we return to normal - a better normal. We can emerge from this stronger than before. And I truly hope that we do.