Did I get this wrong? I mean, it was only a month ago. I recognize that a month in TrumpTime is like a year in normal time, but still. Only a month ago Comrade Trump’s own coronavirus task force cobbled together a vague set of guidelines that individual states should meet before the country would be allowed to ‘open up again’ (whatever the hell that means).
Here are the state/regional gating criteria Trump said should be satisfied BEFORE starting the first phase of the
A downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period.
A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).
And remember, that’s not even Phase One. That was supposed to be the criteria before entering Phase One. When did we decide to scrap that?
I mean, sure, the guidelines are pretty vague. None of the terms are defined. For example, what constitutes a ‘documented’ case? What is the base proportion of tests that should be conducted (should we test 25% of the population of the region? 10%? One percent?). But at least it says ‘downward trend‘ so you could reasonably assume that meant the number of cases or positive tests would be…you know…going down. Right?
Apparently not. Take a guess how many regions/states that are now relaxing social distancing guidelines (and isn’t that a nice way to put it…relaxing?) have any sort of downward trend in cases or tests. Go ahead, guess.
If you guessed NONE (and I’m pretty sure you did), you’d be right. None. Just the opposite. The number of cases AND the number of positive Covid-19 tests are uniformly increasing. And the Trump administration officials who SET the guidelines are cheering on the folks who are ignoring them.
It’s completely fucking insane.
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that after a few weeks of half-heartedly following some very basic social distancing, the Trump administration — and conservatives in general — have thrown up their collective hands and said, “This shit is hard, no way we can do this, let’s just give up.”
I’m old enough to remember President Obama’s 2008 victory speech, in which he kept speaking the refrain of “Yes, we can.” That sort of optimism and willingness to work hard is gone. We’re now living in the era of “I don’t know, maybe we can, maybe we can’t, I guess we’ll see, but it’s not my responsibility.”
So this is where we are in the United States. As I began to write this, the US had suffered 69,942 confirmed deaths from Covid-19. Confirmed. And we all know there are a lot of Covid-19 deaths that haven’t been officially confirmed. Right now there are 69,968 deaths — twenty-six more people died from Covid-19 while I wrote this.
We know with mathematical certainty there will be more deaths. A LOT more deaths if we don’t follow those basic social distancing guidelines. But our government, and most of Trump’s followers, are apparently okay with that. Because it’s such a bother to wear a mask and stay two meters apart from each other.
So I guess the current plan — not the worst case scenario, the actual plan — is that we’re just going to accept that at least a thousand Americans will die every day for the foreseeable future. That’s the current price of doing business in the US.
But think about this. If Trump is willing to allow that to happen during an election year, what is he capable of doing in a second term?
ADDENDUM: By the way, stories about Covid-19 deaths usually stop in a metaphorical sense with the word ‘death’. But that’s not what happens in the real world. When somebody dies in a hospital, there’s still work to do. There’s a point at which the patient ceases to be a patient and becomes a body. All the machines have to be disconnected from the body; all the tubes and IVs have to be removed. Then the body has to be cleaned — completely wiped down, tidied up, toe-tagged, bagged. Then transferred to the morgue (or refrigerated truck). It’s an unpleasant job. I’ve done it many many times. It wears on you. Give some thought to the folks who are doing that multiple times a day.
ADDENDUM 2: As I hit ‘save’ for the last time, the butcher’s bill has climbed to 69,977. Do the math.
The butcher’s bill will be a mighty one. Here in California, where for the most part we’ve been “doing it right,” cabin fever or quarantine fatigue has been a big problem for the past week or so. The freeways are busier in the evenings again; the city streets are full of cars during the day. I expect there will be a boom in case numbers shortly, just as things start opening up.
And our Democratic governor, who up til now has seemed to be guided by numbers, science, and reason, has decided that retail can start opening in limited capacity this Friday.
If you are thinking of wading out into the viral cesspool next week, BE EXTRA VIGILANT, and wash your hands twice as often as you have been.
I was surprised to see Gov. Newsom approve the loosening of restrictions. He’s been really sound up to this point…and I have to hope he’s still acting on the science. But I confess, it’s sad and surprising how quickly so many of us are just giving up because life is temporarily less comfortable.
That said, I know a LOT of folks are hurting financially, and are reluctantly accepting the risk in order to pay bills. That’s a terrible way for a government to treat its citizens.
It sounds like you and I would connect on a number of levels about all of this. That closing addendum got me, with cleaning up and moving the bodies out. No one thinks about that. At all.
I was a medic in the military, and I spent my first 18 months serving on a general medical ward of a large medical facility. Patients die, of course, and you get used to a certain amount of ugly stuff — including prepping bodies for the morgue (as part of our ongoing training, we also had to assist in autopsies — not observe but assist, as in weighing organs and stuff).
Personally, I rarely had to deal with more than a couple of bodies a month. I only had one eight-hour night shift in which I had to prep two bodies for the morgue, and that was stressful. I can’t imagine these folks who are prepping multiple bodies every shift. It has to be traumatizing.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is stopping all of you who buy into the “sky is falling” narrative from staying home, getting your food delivered, and earing your mask and hazmat suit in public.
Just because the rest of us want the country to open and get back to business does not mean you have to do anything you are afraid of.
Order Pizza or Chinese (Maybe not Chinese).
Bathe in Purell.
No laws against that because we believe in your freedom to be as scarred as you want to be.
Hey Billy. You say, “the rest of us want the country to open and get back to business” but recent polling data suggest that’s just not the case. Gallup shows that only about 20% percent of Americans want to immediately return to normal activities. About 70% want to follow the WH guidelines and see a downward trend in cases/deaths before returning to normal. The last 10% want to see social distancing remain in place through the summer.
I have friends and family who are required to go back to work this week, though they don’t feel safe doing so. But our Republican governor has stated that if you’re allowed to go back to work and refuse because you don’t feel safe, you can’t receive unemployment.
That’s a big chunk of the real problem now, as I see it. Here in the US we’ve made no real attempt to make it feasible for folks to stay in quarantine. Some nations have provided their citizens with protections (such as not having to pay rent or a mortgage or utilities) during the quarantine period. Others have provided their citizens with a basic income during the quarantine, so they CAN pay their bills and buy groceries and still maintain quarantine.
In the Netherlands, the government pays up to 90% of workers’ salaries. Denmark pays 75% to 90% of workers’ salaries. France, Belgium, the UK, Japan, Hong Kong…a number of nations are giving direct cash support to their workers in order to protect their economy AND keep their people healthy.
I see that as a good thing.
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Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
Yep, f*cking insane!! … “The number of cases AND the number of positive Covid-19 tests are uniformly increasing. And the Trump administration officials who SET the guidelines are cheering on the folks who are ignoring them.”
I am also disappointed that Governor Newsom seems to be bowing to pressure. He closed the Orange County beaches, and then when people protested he opened them again. And now we are going back to work? I’m encouraging everyone I know to keep to themselves and refuse to be a part of the fallout (i.e., the dead) from this foolish move.
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It really does seem short-sighted, doesn’t it. California has weathered this pandemic so much better than expected because Newsom acted quickly and appropriately. This decision seems like an invitation a second wave of infections.