We Gave Up Before We Tried
By the end of the week, most of the United States will be rolling back the self-imposed shutdown. But it‘s starting to feel like it was all for nothing.
By the time California lifts its quarantine order on May 8, we will have been in quarantine for more than 50 days.
For my family, it’s slightly longer. My wife is a teacher. When the school district officially shut down, a week before the state, we decided to cloister ourselves away.
I remember feeling at the time that our country had no plan for the virus and feeling somewhat legitimately afraid that judgment day had come — the evangelical fears of the tribulation never quite leave you.
As the days blurred into each other and smeared by, I began to feel less like the rapture was coming and more that tough times for everyone, Christian and non-believer, were ahead.
But whether it was economic anxiety, boredom, or pure greed, it became clear that a full shutdown was no longer sustainable. Like it or not, some states and counties were already opening for business.
The thought of everyone returning to a semi-normal state frightens me. All that those 50 odd days bought us was a flattening of the curve. Not even really a decline, just a non-exponential growth. The death toll is up to 68,000 today. More than all the American deaths from the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the 9/11 attacks combined, I read on Twitter.
And we are still losing more than 1,000 people a day. How does that saying go, One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic? Well, 68,000 deaths in a little over a month are apparently just a bad case of the flu, depending on who you ask.
We are entering a new frontier.
What I’ve come to accept is that no one knows precisely what will happen. But some people make better guesses than others.
Our own President — who I distrust very much — recently admitted that 75 -100,000 people could die. It wasn’t that long ago that his projections showed that we wouldn’t hit 60,000 deaths until August 1, and he declared that anything under 100,000 deaths was a good job by him. We hit 60,000 deaths before the last day of April.
And with people beginning to recirculate across the country, the latest projections show a stark increase in deaths by June 1 that will peak higher than we did in April. If this comes to pass, 100,000 deaths will come sooner than anyone anticipated.
Today I read that in the state of Missouri, they have decided to allow concerts. Former respected politician Chris Christie said that the U.S. should reopen because there will be deaths no matter what. It is worth remembering that no other country on Earth has even come close to as many infections or deaths as the U.S., and no first-world nation is likely to.
As we begin the next phase, I feel as though we’re just giving up.
My own parents keep hammering the point that it’s our right as Americans to do as we please, so we have to reopen, regardless of the consequences — which doesn’t even sound like something they would have ever said to me growing up.
I’ll be honest. It hurts me to hear my parents say things like that. To hear the words of irresponsible conservative pundits and other right-wing fringe elements come out of their mouths as if they were their own.
Like Noah building his Ark for 120 years, any level of caution is openly mocked in this country. But there won’t be a righteous flood, in the end, just bodies piled upon bodies in refrigerated trucks.