The Virus Is Winning

I guess it is a gross understatement to say that 2020 has been a miserable year, what with a pandemic already killing more than 100,000 in the USA, peaceful protests and riots gripping many American cities and dominating the news, and a mentally challenged President still trying to govern by tweet from the golf course.

Wonder how many parents who are trying to home school have turned to Sesame Street for help?

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I digress.

Anyway, for as bad as the year has been thus far, can it get any worse? Sure, why not! After all, we haven’t even reached the official kickoff for summer yet.

The legitimate and important discussion about racism and law enforcement will continue and will continue to dominate the news.

And we are only months away from what most likely will be a nasty, contentious election.

Then there is the virus. For months, many like me have been trying to follow the advice of medical experts: stay home as much as possible, social distance, where a mask, wash your hands and yada, yada, yada.

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The advice of medical experts appears to be wearing thin. And in the absence of any real leadership I guess that is understandable. Americans in principle don’t like to be told that we can’t do something or go somewhere. And financially many are hurting, with businesses closing or struggling to survive and unemployment increasing to numbers not seen since the Great Depression.

Still, like most matters these days, how we respond to the virus has become highly partisan, with Trump supporters on one side and those who still have the ability to reason and think on the other.

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So it appears that we are inviting the virus to make a return visit, one with consequences that could exceed the first bout. Maybe there is a lesson here from the movie The Hunger Games.

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Here’s from an article in The Atlantic, “The Virus Will Win“:

A second wave of the coronavirus is on the way. When it arrives, we will lack the will to deal with it. Despite all the sacrifices of the past months, the virus is likely to win—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it already has.

In absolute terms, the United States has been hit harder than any other country. About a quarter of worldwide deaths have been recorded on these shores. And while the virus is no longer growing at an exponential rate, the threat it poses remains significant: According to a forecasting model by Morgan Stanley, the number of American cases will, if current trends hold, roughly double over the next two months.

But neither the impact of mass protests over police brutality nor the effect of the recent reopening of much of the country—including the casinos in Las Vegas—is reflected in the latest numbers. It can take at least 10 days for people to develop symptoms and seek out a test, and for the results to be aggregated and disseminated by public-health authorities.

Yikes.

And the article continues:

Even so, the disease is slowly starting to recede from the public’s attention. After months of dominating media coverage, COVID-19 has largely disappeared from the front pages of most national newspapers. In recent polls, the number of people who favor “reopening the economy as soon as possible” over “staying home as long as necessary” has increased. And so it is perhaps no surprise that even states where the number of new infections stands at an all-time high are pressing ahead with plans to lift many restrictions on businesses and mass gatherings.

So how did we end up in this mess? The Atlantic’s Yascha Mounk offers an opinion that strikes me as being correct:

In the fullness of time, many books will be written about why a country as rich, powerful, and scientifically advanced as the United States failed quite so badly at coping with a public-health emergency that experts had predicted for many years. As is always the case, competing explanations will quickly emerge. Some will focus on the incompetence of the Trump administration, while others will draw attention to the country’s loss of state capacity; some will argue that the United States is an outlier, while others will put its failure in the context of other countries, such as Brazil and Russia, that are also faring poorly.

I do not intend to offer a first draft of history. We are too close to the events to judge, with a cool head, which factors are most responsible for putting us in our current tragic situation. But I would like to offer a partial list of individuals and institutions who, however central or peripheral their contribution to the ultimate outcome, have helped to get us into this mess:

If the virus wins, it is because the World Health Organization downplayed the threat for far too long.

If the virus wins, it is because Donald Trump was more interested in hushing up bad news that might hurt the economy than in saving American lives.

If the virus wins, it is because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, created to deal with just this kind of emergency, has proved to be too bureaucratic and incompetent to do its job.

If the virus wins, it is because the White House did not even attempt to put a test-and-trace regime into place at the federal level.

Well, it looks to me like the virus is winning now — and wait until the fall when schools attempt to reopen.

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Good grief.

 

Published by

Rob Jewell

I’m Rob Jewell and I live and write in Woodland Park, Colorado, the City Above the Clouds. I've been fortunate. I worked for 29 years at BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio. I started editing employee publications and ended as vice president of corporate communications. Then I started a public relations consulting company before becoming a full-time faculty member in the School of Journalism at Kent State University. I taught courses in writing, public relations and mass communication ethics. And I supervised a student-run public relations firm, called Flash Communications. During my tenure at Kent State I was honored to receive the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award. During most of this time I've been a dedicated runner. OK, jogger, if you take speed into consideration. But while my times are not much to write about, I was and am committed. For almost 30 years I ran at least 1,000 miles each year. (Except for one year when I tore my calf muscle playing tennis. So much for tennis.) Being on the road most mornings at 5 a.m. gave me some time to think. It also led to some amazing friendships that now span more than three decades. And my longtime love affair with running helped me shape my first novel, Then We Ran, which is available wherever electronic books are sold. And just so you don't think that all I did was work and run, I have other interests as well, many centering on family. My wife, Mary, was a successful and highly regarded career teacher in the Akron public schools. She now devotes her time and energy to a host of social and athletic activities in Woodland Park. My son, Brian, teaches at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs where he is also the head soccer coach. And my daughter, Jessica, has completed her doctorate at Kent State University where she is also an administrator with the Wick Poetry Center. I've done a lot of writing during my career -- but Jessica is the real writer in the family. I'll try not to make too many errors in this blog. I'm sure she'll be watching.

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