In the New York Times this week, columnist Michelle Goldberg declared that “America Is Too Broken to Fight the Coronavirus,” excoriating the Trump Administration’s handling, and ultimate neglect and denial, of the spread and danger posed by the deadly virus.
Sharply rising rates of infection in several states show no sign of slowing down while Republicans claim victory over “the invisible enemy,” and simultaneously politicize face coverings, part of a broader right-wing pattern of downplaying dysfunction contrary to empirical evidence or reason, Goldberg wrote.
Whether or not you agree with that argument (Goldberg also takes Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to task for his failure to protect nursing home residents in the onset of the pandemic) this much is true: COVID-19 is real and is as dangerous as ever. In the absence of a comprehensive federal strategy, the virus — surely a disaster of an unprecedented scale for any government — will continue to proliferate.
Lucky for us, we have powerful tools at our disposal to fight this disease: Common sense and humility. The coronavirus does not resemble the flu. It is transmitted through droplets. It will not somehow vanish on its own, even with the changing of the season, as some health officials initially contended. On Monday, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on Meet The Press that he believes the early prediction he shared with his colleagues, of waves of infection throughout the year, was incorrect. Instead, he warned the continued spread of the virus will more closely resemble a “forest fire,” potentially striking a still-unprepared and increasingly complacent nation fast, hot and without mercy.
We can only hope that somehow lives will be spared. But states that opened early and resist aggressive measures to curb infections are now emerging as new battlegrounds, namely Florida and Texas, both reporting scores of new cases as many leaders shrug.
Here on Vashon, a community that has been recognized nationally for its disaster preparation and, in more recent times, independent testing capability, we celebrated Father’s Day weekend in picturesque weather, with many patronizing the restaurants in town that have opened their doors now that the state has allowed for service indoors and out. We applaud the tireless efforts of servers and other essential personnel employed at numerous island businesses who are taking the necessary precautions to keep their workplaces safe. But it is dismaying to hear reports of the public they serve not wearing masks or seemingly refusing to consider their own safety or that of others.
No one can be blamed for wanting to enjoy a day out — perhaps the first day out in months. However, it is on all of us here to continue to model caution, respect, responsibility and most of all, care, for anyone watching — quite possibly the rest of the nation, which has understandably grown weary of the crisis but, under assault from cynicism and prejudice, has little resolve left to confront the realities of a pandemic. But this island has shown countless times that it has that resolve.
Vashon has seen three new confirmed cases in the last week — the first since April. We cannot afford to lose sight of what matters or forget that, especially in circumstances such as these, the only way we can beat the odds is together. We can’t afford to slip up now. Wear a mask in public. Practice social distancing. Stay informed and stay safe. Thanks for reading.