For many, the mere mention of COVID brings a harangue about how Trump failed a nation, between the idiocy of ingesting bleach to the choice to reopen as if it was just like the common flu. But as much fun as it is to blame Trump, it contributes nothing toward addressing the totally anticipated spike now happening. What happens now?
I am the president-elect, but will not be president until next year. COVID-19 does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 14, 2020
“Urgent action”? Fair enough, but that’s about as substantive as a “beautiful healthcare plan.” What action? What is it we need to do now? Biden has put together a task force, which suggests two things. First, he had no plan before, since he’s first tasking these “experts” to come up with a plan now. Second, task forces take the problem out of his hands and put it into the hands of others, who might come up with an idea no one thought of before eventually or not. And Biden is out of the line of fire for having passed the responsibility off to others.
It’s understandable that people want to believe there’s some idea, some plan, that will magically save them. They may not have a clue what it is, but then, they’re not the experts. Surely, the experts will know more than they do. Surely, the experts will come up with something. Surely, we will be saved.
As a foundation for emergency response actions, the emphasis should be on three interventions, executed in concert, in any region with case counts over 20 per 100,000 persons per day. These are to temporarily 1) restrict all indoor gatherings of adults to no more than 10 people; 2) close indoor restaurants, bars and clubs; and 3) mandate universal mask-wearing in public.
Will this save us? No, of course not, but it will “slow” the geometric expansion of infection.
These steps will not eradicate the coronavirus. But by reducing super-spreading events, they could reverse the present trajectory of community transmission, halving (or better) the growth rate between now and Inauguration Day, and buying time for additional interventions and vaccines.
There’s nothing new about the ideas of mask wearing, social distancing and lockdowns. That people should wear masks is obvious, but what about mandates? Do we arrest those who refuse? Do we shoot them when they resist?
Will there be government inspectors to count how many people are at your Thanksgiving table? And how does a government prohibit religious gatherings when it applauds protests and election celebrations? The joke, that as long as you utter the name “George Floyd” the coronavirus doesn’t effect you is just a joke. But it’s not a funny kind of joke.
Businesses won’t survive. It was bad enough when they were burned and looted in the midst of a desperate effort to make it through the summer, but economics is a bitch. Contrary to the assumption that the government can just print money and cover the costs, even the money tree eventually goes barren and gets replaced by the inflation tree. Most of you weren’t around during Jimmy Carter’s administration and don’t remember how an item that cost $1 would cost $3 next week, and $10 by the end of the month. Or when loans carried 12% interest rates.
No businesses means no jobs. That’s going to put a hell of a dent into the social justice notion of everybody getting a million dollar paycheck in their corner office just for being oppressed. They won’t have to chant “defund police” as there won’t be any money to pay police as taxes dry up.
Nor will there be any argument about redirecting funding to schools, as the schools will be closed and a generation of children will lose a year of their education that they will never get back. No, distance learning doesn’t work. It was always a lie that we wanted to believe because, well, what other choice did we have, but we know it doesn’t work no matter how much Harvard charges per semester.
And it’s likely to turn out that the “plan” recognizes that we’re not a nation inclined to suffer much.
We should emphasize what is not being asked. This plan would not require a national “lockdown” of workplaces, mass transportation or most economic activities. Schools would be asked to reduce density, require masks, employ hybrid learning models and practice sufficient distancing. Temporary school closures should be reserved for only those communities experiencing the most severe outbreaks.
It’s worthy of note that while the infection rate is soaring, the death rate has yet to shock us. It’s a lagging indicator, and we’ve learned some things about treatments. There are some therapeutics, although their efficacy is negligible. And, lest we forget, there are significant consequences other than death, from cardio to brain fog, that those infected will suffer. Of course, it would still be wise to call grandma now before the bodies pile up again in makeshift morgues.
As bad as our national plan to deal with COVID-19 has been, it’s now time to grow up and face the fact that while there may be a more rational, mature voice out there telling us to behave better, to do things the obvious things that we’re already aware of and still struggle with. That’s pretty much all there is unless and until medicine comes up with distributable soutions. But there is no action plan to save us that Joe Biden’s been secretly hiding so Trump doesn’t steal it and become a national hero. Not a beautiful plan. Not an urgent plan. There is no plan.
As for me, I plan to stay alive, to survive, to wait it out and try to find a way to help as many others as I can to do the same. It’s not Biden’s fault that he has no fix to an unsolvable problem, but it’s time we came to grips with the reality that there are no fixes, there will be deaths and economic catastrophe either way, and nobody has a magical plan to prevent it. Take care, for your own sake and for others. The objective now is to survive. It’s all we can do.