Welcome back…..Round one is in the books, now, filed for all to see. The bell for round two just rang. Hope you’ve got a front row seat and will enjoy the verbiage posturing for recognition. Thanks to those offering feedback. Your perspectives will help this arena from becoming the”same old, same old” writing event. A very grateful, appreciative, nod goes to my first novel’s editor and my oldest granddaughter who both gave the same advice; they must think alike because their comments were almost identical.” We like what you said, but think your blog was too long. Shorten it up, Word Man.” I threw in the “Word Man” part, kind of an ego, writer’s license thing. Okay….I hear you. This edition of “Thoughts about American Life” will be briefer. Pretty much a sure deal since no “bio” is involved and a couple word counters are looking over my shoulder.
Before getting to the heart of this blog, I’d like to preface the article with some Covid 19 stats. America has lost 120,000 plus lives to this pandemic. Pure and simple, a national tragedy. We have more cases and more deaths attributed to this disease than any other nation on our planet. With only about 4 to 5 percent of the world’s population, this infamous tally should not be ours. How did we get here? In my opinion, lack of leadership and not having a cohesive, national plan created the smorgasbord of mostly inefficient strategies that we see. At the federal level, mixed messages have prevailed; we’ve had smoke blown in our face and been tossed contradictory and misleading language from day one. We heard “the pandemic’s not a problem,” “it will go away in summer,” “we’ve got it under control……” One example from the very beginning of this crises depicts the federal government’s response perfectly. Our president quickly shut down travel from China to the US after hearing about the Wuhan outbreak. Well, kind of. Only Chinese citizens travelling to the US using personal visas were restricted from entering our country. Everyone else from China returned home as if nothing was wrong. No temperature or symptomatic health checks upon arrival were attempted. No quarantine time was demanded, and certainly no passenger’s health was checked on at a later date. Fairly lame attempt at containment. Appears more like a slap to China’s face than an endeavor to stop a pandemic. That pretty much sums up Washington’s Covid 19 response; mostly miscues with political maneuvering thrown in for distraction.
Without leadership from Washington, the State governors were left on their own to fight the corona virus. Now, add to the rudderless ship called USS Washington an armada of similarly disabled vessels and you’ve got serious problems. All governors tried to protect their citizens, some with better results than others. New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, took the helm and led decisively. Other state’s leaders, not so much, and to be fair, many didn’t have the resources that New York started with. To date, the most significant deterrent to Covid 19 has been containment and “shelter in place” strategies that almost all states utilized and to one degree or another, enforced.
We’re transitioning now from shelter-in-place to a gradual reopening of our country. Obviously, a critical period of adjustment. We’re attempting to regain normalcy and continue to social distance, refrain from unnecessary travel, wear masks, wash our hands regularly, and avoid large gatherings. How fast will our return to pre-Covid 19 conditions occur? I think that depends on how hard the winds of change blow and from which direction they emanate. There are three societal forces which will, by their very nature, greatly influence our direction and speed. First, there’s the medical profession. It’s the force of caution, the force dedicated to sound, public well-being, and it will push toward the safest, healthiest path. We should listen keenly to them. Another societal force is the business community which is hurting; both large and small commercial endeavors, from mom and pop businesses to large corporations all need some “black ink” to resurface on their ledgers. This group, especially larger institutions with owners, CEOs, boards of directors, and shareholders scare me a little. They’ve got a lot to lose and tend towards rhetoric rather than real substance. Protecting their employees, due to extra costs, could endanger their “bottom line.” Case in point would be the meat processing sector. Everything is fine-and -dandy, until some Health Department employee comes around with a thermometer, and then all hell breaks lose. Cases spike and communities are in trouble. I live in “small-town-USofA.” Everyday I see lumber yards , gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and small shops that have gone the extra mile to protect their employees and costumers from contracting Covid 19. I know this can be done. Corporate Americas needs to get on board and ensure their employees a safe environment to work in. Simple as that. No excuses. Get it done.
Before I go much farther, and you begin scratching your head in wonderment, let me address my headings suggested topic, Containment vs Herd Immunity. Containment of Covid 19 is what our medical community is attempting to do. Minimizing travel, staying home if you feel sick and self quarantining, washing hands often, wearing face masks, and avoiding large crowds are all meant to corral or contain this pandemic. Herd mentality or herd immunity is a whole other ball game. Its approach to minimizing the pandemics effects is vastly different. Basically, it calls for most people to become infected and let the chips fall where they may. I’ll be more specific. With herd immunity, instead of precautions taken to prevent contracting the virus, it pretty much runs its course and with an easily transmitted corona virus, like the one we have, about 60 to 70 percent of the population will become infected. The infectious rate at this point will decrease and become negligible. Why? Well, most of those who are in danger of serious symptoms will have died by the time herd immunity is reached. Here’s the rub. We’ve lost 120,000 plus Americans to Covid 19, and only about five percent of our population has contracted the disease. How many more Americans would die trying to reach a 60 to 70 percent infectious rate? Do the math. Estimates are from one million to two million more US citizens will parish. Not a pretty picture. Corporate America straddles the fence in regards to which approach to this pandemic they should adhere to. Protecting their work force costs additional revenue, but loss of manpower due to absenteeism, creates its own problems and consequent loss of revenue. I think our business world will ultimately strike an uncoordinated, dysfunctional compromise between the two strategies. Monetary resources will be the deciding factor; those that can afford creating a safe work space, will do just that and those that can’t, will do the best they can.
The last societal force which I’ll address is the political arena. We’re in a presidential election year and the stakes are high. Reelection to a politician is paramount. It speaks to that public servants success, worth and power level. You can be sure that herd immunity will not be openly discussed by those seeking reelection. Nobody wants one to two million dead Americans on their resume. The Covid 19 pandemic will influence American politics for many years to come, and this year, probably more than the rest. The pandemic has ruined our economy and caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs. It’s responsible for our nations present recession and many wonder how long the recovery process will take, and how many businesses can withstand the economic downturn. Will this disease influence the November election.? You bet! No president who held office during a recession was reelected for another term.
If you needed a quick economic turn-around, and were seeking reelection, which pandemic approach would you utilize. Pretty much a no brainer. Let the chips fall where they may would rule the day. There’s a wonderful old adage, one of my favorites which will shed light on our present administrations chosen strategy, “actions speak louder than words.” We’ll all hear in the next few months about how our president did so many things to curb the pandemic. Actions speak louder than words. Does not wearing a mask help curb Covid 19? Does ignoring sound medical advise from professionals in the field of viral medicine and pandemic control help stop the spread of Covid 19? Does applauding those who flaunt sheltering in place, social distancing, and mask wearing help stop Covid 19? Does having a political rally in an enclosed arena, without social distancing and without mandatory mask usage in a state where corona virus cases are spiking help thwart the viruses spread? I think not. I could go on with more examples, and I’m sure you could throw a few onto the fire, too. The point being is these situations and actions all hasten this pandemics rise, regardless of public outcome. The underlying motive is getting the economy moving in the right direction by November and hopefully out of a recession. Reelection is all important to this sitting president. How many people are thrown under the bus on the route to a second term doesn’t matter. This administration is all about “the end justifies the means,” and portrays this motto on a daily bases.
Well, there you have it, Containment versus herd immunity. I must admit to some deception here. Truly, this blog was about herd immunity and Containment in regards to Covid 19, but it addressed other issues as well. Namely, how do the two strategies interplay with the pandemics influence, force, direction, and politics. Many of you would have groaned, rolled your eyes and moved on to another distraction if I had stated “up front” this article would focus on Covid 19 politics. I get it. We’re inundated all the time with this information. Herd immunity is frightening to me. The whole philosophy of this approach speaks of utilitarian beliefs which imply that a few must sacrifice for the good of the rest. Our culture is capable of so much more than this ideology. So, there you have it; My reasoning for a sleight of hand, and a veiled apology for the same.
Phew! Made it through round two. Felt more confident this go round. Less self doubt and hand ringing for sure. Not sure about the length, though. Did I stay within blog parameters? Let me know. Like I mentioned in my previous blog, there’s an abundance of worthy topics presenting themselves for discussion. Its hard to pick from the list. So, I’ve got a few teasers to toss out. Tell me which ideas strike your fancy. Black Lives Matter calls out for discussion. One could talk for four hundred plus, years, about issues this subject suggests. Why the Dems will lose the November election will interest quite a few and conversely, why the GOP will lose in November, will do the same. A Discussion about reintroduction of wolves into the lower forty- eight should draw some interest, and….Holy jumpen b’jesus, man. That’s writer suicide. Are you crazy? Well, maybe I am. I’ll let you be the judge of that….Until later, adios amigo