Friday, March 27, 2020

Covid Days, 14

Yesterday the US for the first time had the highest number of reported cases on Covid-19 of any country in the world. It is highly likely, of course, that China is lying, but in a way so is the US: we have had so little testing relative to the size of our population that the virus could easily be 10x as widespread as positive results indicate. You can't have a positive result if you never get tested.

I want to believe that this will be over by, say, mid-May. (I can't trick even my most optimistic self into believing it could be earlier than that.) I so so want to believe that, and maybe it could be, if people could perfectly isolate; but A) People aren't perfectly isolating - some states they aren't isolating at all!  and B) even if everyone were willing, it isn't possible. Doctors and nurses, for the most obvious example, must continue to go to work. Lots of less obvious cases, too: my brother works for a firm that prints the forms that hospitals use to write prescriptions and order supplies. They have to keep on going to work, too.

Only half my fear comes from the virus itself; the other is the ineptitude of the response. The president seems to be using access to resources to respond to the pandemic as a way to punish states that didn't vote for him, or whose governors have been critical of him. Just yesterday he claimed they didn't actually need 30000 ventilators in New York, which is utterly absurd. What possible benefit would come of lying about it? News out of New York is bad; they are already triage-ing who gets a ventilator. And the president of the United States is playing vindictive games about it.

If we had a competent president, this would have been nipped in the bud back in January, when they could have selectively isolated anyone who came in contact with an infected person. Now that isn't possible - there are just too many people infected. Now we all have to isolate. All because trump wanted to hide the numbers, thinking they would hurt his re-election chances. If there is any justice in the world the numbers now will DOOM his re-election chances.

But anyway. I'm not really here to be political, or anymore than I can help. I am journaling to help me keep my sense of time, and to help me make sense, in my own mind, of this strange, surreal experience.

For most of my life I had a great faith in the institutional memory of the government of the United States. It was not even a matter of who, at any one moment, was in charge. There have been presidents I admired, presidents I agreed with, mostly, and others that I didn't, but I always believed that any president would utilize the machinery of government - the expertise, the resources - to protect the country in a crisis. That this is no longer true - that this president is blatantly using the crisis to punish people who have criticized him - is frankly terrifying. It's like we don't have a leader.

That is where my fear mostly comes from. I don't know if we can recover from this in my lifetime without leadership. Try to imagine ANY recent president: Obama, Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, on down, behaving like this. Ronald Reagan, whom I despised at the time, would have worked with all his might to minimize loss of life. Bush One, who I also didn't like, would have handled this like a statesman and Comforter-in-Chief. Until the trump presidency such childish vindictiveness from the White House was unimaginable.

I fear for my country. I fear for the people I love who are more medically vulnerable. I see no leadership coming to help us, and no way out of this.

Whoops, guess I got political again. Oh well.

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