A Rough Cut
Published in

A Rough Cut

The Night Coronavirus Became American

As the President finally addressed the nation about the virus - which has been spreading throughout the world and country for several weeks - little did he know that an NBA game scheduled to start at the same time would nearly overshadow what he said.

Coronavirus is here to stay. The weeks of pointless political posturing, erratic stock market trading, and declining normalcy have come to a head in this country.

The President ran through his outline seated at the Resolute Desk, talking travel bans and economic leniency for sick workers and tax breaks for businesses. He looked uncomfortable and cowed, in only the way Donald Trump could when he was speaking words he had little input in forming.

Then rumors sprang up of the strange cancellation of an NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz. Your average mid-week matchup, nothing special.

The talk was already circulating about how the NBA might handle the spread of Coronavirus. The NCAA had decided to go forward with March Madness without any crowds, and the NBA seemed to be heading that direction as well.

But after a game was abruptly stopped by team medical staff moments before tip-off — with both teams having warmed up and waiting by their benches — it was clear something strange was happening. The announcer at the arena broke the news to the still sitting crowd, ominously adding, “you are all safe” to his hurried announcement.

Then came word from Twitter.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the Coronavirus. Within minutes, the NBA suspended the season indefinitely, and within the hour, further news came out about both teams having been quarantined at the area.

Around the same time, Tom Hanks quietly posted to his Twitter account that he and his wife had tested positive for Coronavirus while in Australia after being hit with a nasty cold.

All of these things happened within 20 minutes.

Whatever reassurances the President had given that we would “beat” Coronavirus and the government had the best response and was finally taking the global pandemic seriously were wiped away and replaced by raw vulnerability.

It’s almost an afterthought to think of the stock market cratering day after day. Or the news that two Americans had been killed in a rocket attack in Iraq, possibly by groups linked to Iran.

Trump’s message was one of strength, but his credibility had already been eroded by anyone who had seriously paid attention during his term.

Instead, the message that all Americans have received for weeks, which was solidified by tonight's events, is that we are in this alone. Our friends and family and whatever precautions we were taking in private were as good a hope as any the government was likely to provide.

Tomorrow may prove different, may provide some clarity to the President’s plan, but as I told my wife a few weeks ago after reading up on the Coronavirus, “things are probably going to get weird.”

Tonight they finally did.



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