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Updated: Aug 21, 2020

June 26, 2020

This may not be the second wave, just a first tsunami.

So now that we’re seeing without a doubt that America’s re-opening was too early, was tragically foolish, and that “the liberals” got it right whereas “the Trumpers” followed the leader … straight down a dark hole, I’m just wondering where that leaves us. How long will We, the People, of the United States, continue to hold that #1 spot among all the other nations on earth, and is there anything we can do to change course?

Today the CDC is reporting new 37,667 cases of coronavirus nationwide. Nearly 9,000 are in Florida, where just a few days ago it reached an all-time high of 5,511, and where a new daily record has been set every day since June 7.

Florida, now famous for its photos of packed beaches and spring-break revelers, resisted shutting down in April and May, and took an aggressive approach to re-opening — if the state ever closed, which seems like, no, it never really did. Everyone has been watching Florida for a while now. Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida looks likely to become the new U.S. corona epicenter.

New hotspots are on the rise

But it’s not just Florida on that uptick. In direct opposition to advice from the World Health Organization, the CDC, the NIH, Johns Hopkins, Dr. Fauci, and every other scientific or medical authority, many states including Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana have all blown past warnings in their rush to re-open. So has Oklahoma, the place Trump just held his first campaign rally.

And the numbers are climbing in all those places.

In Florida and Texas, the only new mitigation measures that have been announced are suspending elective surgeries (Texas) and closing bars (both states).

Really??? After months of “Trust me, we got this” you’re only going to … close the bars?

Here in New Jersey, the nation’s second-hardest hit state earlier this year, it’s unfathomable that so much of the country has pursued a course of defiance for months. I, personally, want to yell at Florida, Texas and the others, “Do you want your state to go through the hell we went through?”

Every single governor, and frankly most of the populations in all states, has known that the CDC guidelines (prominently displayed on the White House website) called for decreasing numbers of new cases and deaths prior to re-opening. But under the leadership of a White House that, even today, insists that protections from the virus are up to states, or to individuals themselves, a lot of Americans have resisted doing what has worked in other countries.

Today in South Korea, a second wave of infections was announced. All along South Korea, which recorded its first case the same day we did, has been zigging wherever we’ve zagged. It never had to shut down its economy because its voluntary social distancing policies have been accompanied by a test-and-contact-trace strategy that’s been many times more aggressive than ours. Up to and including today, South Korea has lost less than 300 people to coronavirus. Our toll today, June 26, is 127,356.

The discrepancy between those numbers can’t be argued with. One hundred-twenty seven thousand, three hundred fifty six … versus 282.

Yet there has been so much arguing.

Americans have had a choice. This is what we chose.

Today a Maryland resident who organized rallies demanding that Governor Larry Hogan lift stay-at-home orders has tested positive for COVID-19. And now that resident, Tim Walters, who is a co-founder of ReOpen Maryland, is refusing to cooperate with contact tracing procedures.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? To each other?

Two days ago Dr. Fauci said on NPR’s Morning Edition, “We are all in this together - if there ever was a time in the United States for people to put aside any kind of political divisiveness and say, we are all in this together. There [is] no such a thing as one group versus another group because … they’re part of the propagation of the process,” meaning we can all infect each other. The virus doesn’t know if you’re red or blue. It just wants to eat you.

Why is that so hard for so many to understand?

As someone who has written in here repeatedly that the U.S. was opening too quickly, let me be clear: I don’t want to be right. I don’t want "my side” to be right. I would have loved it if “their side” was right, because they (conservatives/red state governors/the “liberate” crowd, etc.) keep saying settle down, the numbers are padded, it’s not that bad or scary or dangerous. But if you live where I live, you know it is that bad.

And if you have a TV or the Internet, you should know it, too. Nothing in our nation’s history has gotten as much news coverage as this virus. There’s much still unknown about the virus, but it appears to me that nothing is being kept a secret.

In fact, just the opposite. Not just the media but other segments of society are rushing to fill in blanks before we have all the answers. That's how hydroxychloroquine got rushed to approval too soon. It's how New York leaders and scientific experts over-calculated the numbers and ended up with a mostly-empty hospital ship and more ventilators than were needed in some places. It's how plenty of rumors have started, too.

But certain things keep being repeated, and repeated, and repeated again. One is, we're opening too soon. Everyone from Dr. Fauci to the World Health Organization to late-night comedians have insisted America was rushing it. And that prevalence of opinion is turning out to be right.

If you’re African American, you probably don't need much convincing because, as The Hill reported today, nearly one-third of African Americans know someone who has died of COVID-19.

People of color in general may be readier to accept the facts, because as far back as April, there were reports that non-whites, which often means lower-income communities with lesser access to health care, were contracting and dying of the virus in greater numbers than whites.

Why don't those who want to take away Obamacare have any ideas for replacing it?

The United States Supreme Court has just announced it will take under consideration the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the healthcare coverage of approximately 22 million Americans, known familiarly as Obamacare.

Nancy Pelosi, who filed a bill to expand the Act two days ago, proclaimed that “President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty.”

I think any reasonable person would have to agree. Trump and his party have nothing to replace Obamacare with. Should 22 million Americans have their health care taken away during a pandemic? Why is the highest court in our land even willing to weigh in on that now?

I don’t understand these times. I think I may have started writing this blog less because I had things to say (everyone has things to say right now) than because I have questions to ask. I get how the virus came, but I don’t get what’s happening now. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why can’t we see a way out of the corner we’re in — meaning, our in-fighting? Our rage? It’s like we’re a couple of teenaged sisters pulling each other’s hair while a murderer slips in through the window.

We didn’t put ourselves here. Others may be benefitting from our hatreds, but We, the People, are not. Just the opposite. We’re getting sick from them. We’re dying of them.

Trump and his party didn’t cause this pandemic, but they have shown us they can’t lead us through it. They keep leading us deeper into it. Even if they woke up tomorrow and started doing all the things other nations have done to protect themselves, we have already lost so many, and so many are sick at this moment, with or without knowing it. Our systems aren’t up to the challenge — our population still can’t even get ahold of N95 masks. We’re the richest nation on earth and we aren’t even close to managing this crisis, on any level.

Our President assures us he’s being tested daily (I don’t believe it, though, because of how much he complained after just one test), therefore he doesn’t need to take precautions. He seems not to understand how it works. At his Tulsa rally, he said he wants to slow testing to “keep the numbers down.” Until today, his administration was readying to withdraw federal support for testing, and only extended the order to the end of June because the virus numbers in Texas have become so dire.

Trump is either unable to unwilling to do what other leaders have done in places where the infection rates fell, the economies didn’t have to crash, and the people weren’t made to endure the kind of extended horror that we’re enduring here.

I decided to write this blog mostly for posterity, and that's still why I'm doing it. I never intended to offer answers, but I have to say I'm stunned by how many questions I still have — maybe even more now than when I started. And I bet I'm not the only one. Maybe a lot of us keep feeling like this is all an exceptionally bizarre episode of The Twilight Zone.

But as ordinary Americans living through it, not politicians, not epidemiologists, not authorities of any kind, maybe we can’t understand it because we’re just too close to it. I keep picturing future generations demanding to know, how did it get so bad? Why couldn’t it be stopped? And right now I have no idea what, as a representative of 2020, I could possibly say to explain it.

All I know today is that the frustration of seeing the numbers in so many of our states skyrocket is almost unbearable. Soon, again, there will be hospitalizations, ventilators, ICUs, and family members saying goodbye on Zoom. There will be refrigerated trucks and new lockdowns and “recovered” patients learning to walk and read again, or suffering symptoms without an end in sight.

The pandemic is charging around the globe, and America is holding the lead firmly. Why are we still the most victimized country on earth, almost six months into this?

Is there really, really nothing we can do to change that?

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