Amongst the flood of bad news comes a smidgen of good ones, small victories, and it happened today. I had read last week that a store was implementing a system to keep covid cross contamination to the strictest minimum in the worse case, or to zero for the best scenario. Customers will be checked for temperature before entering the store, masks will be required, shields are placed at the cashier and one way aisles indicated around the store so shoppers do not cross path. I suspect the others stores will have to follow. I would do my shopping there before going in a store not taking the same precautions. That’s good news, although some folks are pushing against rules and recommendations, for fear of been robbed of their personal right, and will be reticent to comply. I am particularly happy today because I am having an intelligent discussion about that dilemma on a social platform. My position is that every citizens have a right, but it does not comes free. To enjoy those rights citizens also have responsibilities. It’s called civic duty. After a bit of back and forth, I used the Blitzkrieg and England in World War Two, when citizens were asked to blacken their windows and dim the lights at night so German bombers would have a hard time finding the towns and targets. Folks did that, they were not saying “the heck with it, it’s my right to not do it, I’ll keep the lights on and screw the rest of the town, let’s the bombs fall”. He liked the analogy but was still concerned about individual rights, thinking they would be eroded and eventually be stripped away once the problem is gone. I said I understood the fear of government overreaching, but with a Supreme Court leaning right, I don’t think anyone should have any worries that the liberties granted by the constitution would be stripped away overnight. I would be more worried about a leader claiming powers he does not legally possess during a national crisis that is still running its course. So yes, our war is different, but now our war is against a new disease, silent, invisible and extremely deadly, a virus that is spreading fast and furious and will continue to spread if mitigating measures are not taken now. With rights come responsibilities, when a law to keep a virus from killing people is enacted, all citizens should follow and work together to defeat it. Responsibilities trumps rights.
I take advantage of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website that as a taxpayer, I also own, to post this paragraph along with my social media answers on civic duty:
“Below you will find several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation. “
That’s what candidates for naturalization are given along with booklets telling about laws and other needed informations one would need to pass the exam to become a United States citizen. When I was naturalized (sounds like some medical metamorphosis, I would like Americanized better), the office of naturalizations gave me booklets to read and learn. They were cliff notes of American history, the Constitution, the laws, and your rights and obligation as a citizen. Declaring allegiance to the United States, I was told by the interviewer in charge of accepting me as a citizen, meant that I had to abandon any title of nobility and any allegiance to another country and swear upon it. I do not have much recollection of the exam but I passed. I am now Americanized, and as a citizen of the United States, I relish my Rights and accept my Responsibilities.
Puccini’s La Rondine is playing, the setting is Paris Art Deco, the flappers era, with all the appropriate costumes and painted sets. Nicely done, reminder of places I visited before, a restaurant above Gare de Lyon, a Paris train station where the trains to South of France leave several times a day. Outside, the tree is very slow to give us a show, the buds are a plenty but taken a long time to bloom fully.
The days pass and we are getting almost comfortable in our routines, sleeping is another story as the lack of exercise leaves our bodies less fatigued. As usual, I open my eyes around five thirty most morning. I try to convince myself that it’s too early and succeed, from time to time, to go back foe a bit more snoozing. Covid is so much present that it’s also in my dreams. Covid flushes out the real characters of well known and until now well like folks like the host of a tv show, who is said to have a network of half a billions dollars, whose income last year was eighty millions. She employs over thirty people for producing the show, they were left in the dark for at least two weeks without news of their employs since been furloughed, finally told their paychecks will be sixty percent less during the lockdown time. To add insult to injury, the show’s recurring theme is “love” and the motto is “ be kind”. Other tv show stars are paying crews out of pocket, showing a real understanding of what it is to be kind. News about lockdown deniers, influenced by networks loyal to the president and the right wing of the Republican Party, are coming in faster and is taking root in the “freedom fighter” groups, the maga hats wearer, encouraged by some politicians, even by a tea party favorite, who had been infected with covid and recovered. Some other politician, also on the right, posed in the Capitol Rotunda for a public relation photograph wearing a n95 mask, improperly placed upside down on his face, and pushing for the reopening of the country. Cruise ships companies were hit hard in February by covid but it did not stop them from cruising until March and resulting to more than 1,500 positive infections and at least 39 fatalities. One of the large box store club, reticent to apply safety measures for workers, kept a sick employee working with the public, a negligence that resulted in her death two days after her last time at work. She did not die alone, she also infected her sister and her mother, all sharing the same apartment, and alas sharing the same fate. A nursing home in New Jersey, afraid to attract the authorities attention, kept their deceased occupants in a makeshift morgue consisting of a box truck, for days. The facility house five hundred residents of which one hundred are infected with covid and thirty nine have died.
I could go on and on, one horror story after the other, stories of preventable death that should not go unpunished, in the best of worlds. Stories of debased humanity and selfishness. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of untold stories as well, there are folks dying alone in their homes, forgotten until found, stories about wasted lives and lost opportunities to minimize the deathly toll covid is piling up.
Of course, a lot of the deaths could have been prevented if the country had been placed in an active alert mode, but the pushback by the president, egged on by the most conservative politicians and right wing talk shows pundits, and by corporations looking at the bottom line and seeing it getting further down into the red, kept most the country in a business as usual attitude, wasting precious time while covid keeps on spreading.
Today, April 17, over a month after our self imposed lockdown, the CDC informs us that:
- Total cases: 632,548 (632,220 confirmed; 348 probable)
- Total deaths: 31,071 (26,930 confirmed 4,141 probable
On the CDC the small red dots on the United States map are getting larger and darker everyday. Texas is now a dark red spot, together Florida and California. When one factors in the early precautions California has taken and still apply after a month of lockdown, I fear for the safety of its citizens, and for the pandemic to spread quickly. To make the situation worse, the leaders of the two states are not only leaning toward the deniers, with lackadaisical attitudes and lackluster actions, with the Texas DHSH website finally showing proper etiquette and means of protection, after clicking a link to a child page, under the fold. Again, shouldn’t this information be the first thing folks see when they go to the website? The Governors who want the country opened as soon as possible are part of the problem, are the least aggressive on prevention and they are enabling covid to flourish. It defies common sense to risk citizen’s’ lives for political ideology and loyalty to a leader who is waffling, shuffling his feet and babbling at a podium about executives or corporations, loudly naming them for this or that “great thing” they agreed to do to fight the pandemic, only to hear from the same executives and corporations the very next day, that they had no idea what he was talking about, having received a vague memo from the White House, only a couple of hours before the announcement. Most folks are baffled by some happening at the White House, where truckers and a few executives of trucking companies were invited together with big rigs of the country’s major shipping companies, and where the four truck drivers were presented with gold keys. Nobody really knows why the gold keys. When asked, a spokesman for the White House elaborated: “The key was a memento from the president to the drivers to mark the occasion and to thank them for their amazing work on behalf of all Americans.” Knowing the president’s well documented love for gold, I am not surprise about the gold part, the key part is anyone’s guess. Wouldn’t it be nice if the keys were cast in solid gold, it would be an unexpected perk for the drivers, with spot price for gold over $1500, it would make for a useful stash if the industry suffers so much from covid that they find themselves unemployed. But knowing about previous history about the master of the Art of the Deal, I would not be surprised if they were made of fool’s gold. And news that only the top and middle earners in the industry have received stimulus money before it ran out, leaving thousands of small trucking companies and freelance drivers with their own rigs out of luck, may put truckers jobs in limbo. There were no mention of help for them at that photo opportunity in the gardens of the White House. The propaganda machine churns its banners, conservative media extolling the virtues, without or barely mentioning the keys, or the lack of funding.
Our Mayor likes the suggestion I mentioned, and agreed it would be beneficial to inform the public. The last answer from the Mayor:
”Thank you for the suggestion………..I’ll add the message to the City’s Webpage too. Hoping you are being safe and staying healthy.”
I am glad our Mayor is taking steps that will enable us citizens to be informed on the proper way for each to minimize exposure to a silent killer, I wish other town leaders would follow her initiative. In our new world ruled by covid, we need leaders who are pro-active on precautionary steps to encourage the prevention of spreading the disease.
Unfortunately, good news fade fast to give way to unsettling and saddening news. The smile on my face is quickly erased to the new deaths numbers in Connecticut.
In my beautiful state, covid killed over 1000 people so far.