I’m listening to a daily news conference by the medical experts as the coronavirus marches on in its attempted conquest of the planet while the most stupid former game show host/politician/wannabe tyrant on the planet, President Donald Trump, jumps in and is full on lying and attacking and distorting, making stuff up as he goes, like he does pretty much every single time he appears, with his usual insults and goofy announcements about ‘bold action’ that seem to be improvised and which with all likelihood will never happen. There are plenty of indicators and antecedents to allow us to believe that this is sadly the case once more.
Here’s what’s going on …the economy is reeling and tanking because all commerce is pretty much shutting down… nobody’s flying or cruising or busing or riding the trains, staying in hotels etc., all stores are closing except for groceries and even those have long lines and empty shelves as the populace panic. Businesses of different sizes and types (and ability to withstand this forced closing) are scrambling to figure out what to do and how to survive. Restaurants and libraries and gyms and churches and dentists’ offices, you name it, are slamming their doors shut …it’s been like a frightening wave of these sudden closures. Everybody is being advised to stay at home, “shelter in place”, or self-quarantine if you have symptoms, so as not to infect or be infected by the coronavirus that is invisible, but all over the place, coming out of mouths and landing on surfaces, with a punch that can lay you out and even kill you, especially someone a little less active and strong than you. There is all kinds of advice about washing hands, not touching your face, keeping your distance from others, sanitizing surfaces and clothes. I finally convinced, I think, my daughter to be more cautious and not go out, or as little as possible. She was wanting to tempt fate and be a little more nonchalant than I would want. We are in the state where it started and most of the initial deaths occurred so she should know better.
All places where people can get together in large numbers such as sporting events, concerts, movie or live theaters…all of that world has been closed for no one knows how long. Schools and universities are shuttered until next academic year. Maybe. All communication with anyone is supposed to be digital…emails, texts, and video conferences, even with doctors, therapists, clergy, bosses. It’s all about trying to eliminate the chance to touch or breathe on anyone. Today entire factories are closing, such as the three largest auto companies. The streets in many of our largest cities are relatively empty. Many folks are not taking public transportation even though they keep it running because of the necessary personnel you need to be able to get to their jobs. It’s no surprise that the stock market keeps plummeting as a result, so retirees and others whose 401Ks and IRAs are being decimated are stunned and highly concerned about the future. I have also lost the income from my substitute teaching which is what I used for sending funds to Peru to help with hygiene help and other needs of Isabel’s father and family. So no one is unaffected. Even in Peru the government is taking steps to stop the spread of the virus and to keep their much more fragile economy breathing.
None of this has ever happened before to such an extent…all at once. Just about every corner and angle of the culture is going through change and it’s just now starting to sink in. Rational/ aware people who aren’t reckless are taking every precaution because they’re afraid and respect the science and the warnings from those who know. Others are less inclined to cooperate with these efforts to limit the spread and are insisting on being hazardous jerks on the prowl. Bars have also closed, so that will help…but they can still party on the beach or in the back yards and try to show everyone how macho and uninhibited they can still be. We all hear the exponentially growing statistics and accounts of the afflicted and dying. All over the world and smack dab in their neighborhood. The hospitals are being overwhelmed and there is insufficient protective gear, testing kits, beds/ rooms. Doctors and nurses are getting exhausted or falling ill themselves. Medical facilities are working around the clock to figure out how to test and care for the rising number of cases. The public, if not sick, starts to think they are, certain that every little cough and scratchy throat or headache is a sign of the worst to come…even though it probably is not the virus. Psychosomatic jitteriness is rampant. I’ve felt it to a small degree myself. You can’t help it if you binge on the news which has these stories on now almost exclusively, along with the latest bizarre and aggravating Trump missteps and outrages. While we want to be calmed and informed by experts, he insists on keeping his mug filling the screen, spewing out incomprehensible word salads and misinformation. It’s the same old thing – his hogging the limelight, and pleading for everyone to hold a proverbial parade for him, because he alone will be our know-it-all ‘hero’. People desperately yearn for someone more up to the task of leading us out of this dark period.
The impact on the working man and woman is already harsh and is only going to get worse. They don’t have a real good feeling for how many people are going to get sick and even die. The reason there’s so much lack of knowledge is that Trump did all he could for weeks to prevent the news about the pandemic from getting out, downplaying and mocking society’s concern about what would soon be erupting in our midst, and bringing our country and the world to its knees. Fearing what this scare would do to the economy, and hence his reputation and re-election prospects, for two months or so he essentially endeavored to cover it all up when we should have been mobilizing/preparing, so now we’re suddenly having to play some serious catch-up. I do realize, that if any country can do that…can do what it takes to bounce back and be victorious over this…it is the United States…but even here, for many reasons, it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be a quick recovery. And there will be serious scars on our culture. And deep and broad changes. Trump has soon found out that he can’t lie and distract his way out of this one, not when the people all around were being taken down by the illness, including celebrities and Republican supporters, and NOTHING would make the crisis go away. Nothing will keep it from being tied like a big ol’ albatross around his neck no matter whom he tries to blame. Now, even Fox News and the Republican sychophants who were doing their typical –“it’s all a Democratic hoax to bring down our true Great Leader” – have had to admit this is a real threat to all we hold dear. Maybe getting sick themselves, as has already happened for a few of them, made it dawn on them. Now Congress is going to have to make changes to let members vote digitally…so they aren’t in proximity with others.
These news conferences each day full of optimistic spin and loud Trump pronouncements that are then ripped to shreds all day as we hear directly from the front lines that what he has said is not true. This will grow old and cause unrest even among his most ardent fans. At some point I suppose the producers of things that we need are going to be able to gear up and meet our society’s needs, such as the tests kits, masks, and ventilators, all of which are running out. I have faith in the production and transport mechanisms in our country (and the world) and it’s my feeling that if people would calm down a little bit, the stores would get back to normal and everyone would have enough. There are public service messages urging us not to hoard, something which I’ve always done to a fair degree with ‘provisions’, planning for the eventual crisis. So I had things in storage even before this all hit the fan. I’ve done that since I lived in San Francisco and we used to be coached about doing this before the earthquake, and then the earth shook and we were glad we had done that.
We are almost entirely staying at home, as are most people, but we have water, electricity, heat, internet, food, paper products, and TV so it’s not uncomfortable. Some complain about going stir-crazy, dealing with restless children, missing loved ones, because they’re used to freely being out and about. I read today that we shouldn’t complain, that we need to think about Anne Frank who was cooped up in a small space for nearly eight hundred days while hiding from the Nazis. Being in our apartment is not suffering… it’s where we most like to be anyway. People are allowed to go out to take walks and go to parks. We just need to stay away from others, which is also not hard for two people who are not especially social. We also have our car and can take a drive around for some additional distraction. I watch a lot of news and you get kind of depressed when you see your retirement investments being depleted. I’m not even looking at the bottom line. We are praying that will come back in the not too, too distant future. And it’s not easy seeing people who are physically suffering…or homeless. Congress is talking about a major pumping of money to those who have immediately become unemployed to be able to pay their bills and buy the basics. The assistance is going to have to be massive, like the New Deal or like fighting a World War with everyone doing their share, and done in stages, because if this shutdown and epidemic continue, there will be major disruption and eventual civil unrest. This is a new reality like none of us have ever seen.