This morning, when I let the dogs out, both Lo Khyi and Gyptse made a mad dash for the top corner of the yard where they had their encounter with the possum a few weeks ago. They do this every day, perhaps thinking that they will have another chance to demonstrate their prowess against the forest critters whose scent taunts them when we go for walks.
The pups are creatures of habit. Seeking out the same enemy to fight again and again. I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want to sit down to write and seek out the same old negative stories or complaints. But I open the news and am smacked in the face with a new bit of “crazy” and I can’t help but comment.
These issues aren’t just about insults to our dignity, like a possum invading their turf is for my dogs.
Each new bit of “crazy” puts people at risk. People like our son and his partner who are essential workers at their jobs in Minnesota… one of the nation’s hotbeds right now for COVID-19.
Or people like our daughter who may be back teaching “live” in her classroom in the fall. Or our grandkids as they go back to schools that might or might not be prepared to protect them and their families.
What is the latest bit of crazy? Well, first the administration first asked the CDC to formulate a set of guidelines for intelligent and safe reopening of businesses, schools, places of worship and more. That was good.
But then, after receiving the report prepared by some of our leading experts on infectious diseases and how to mitigate their risks, it has chosen to neither use it nor share it.
As a result will we have fifty states with fifty strategies with fifty different standards? Will there be no effort to provide a national vision, guidance, or direction on how to tackle these challenges?
That’s what it looks like. I won’t belabor the risks of premature and uncoordinated approaches that I’ve talked about in other posts. But I have to conclude that this is — in my opinion at least — an appalling abdication of leadership when courageous leadership is needed more than ever.. It is irresponsible and shocking and a failure we can ill afford.
Sadly, however, it is not surprising. All of our experience of the past few years would lead me to conclude that this decision is most likely because the President and those around him don’t like the science. They don’t want to let nasty irritating facts get in the way of their decision making about the economy.
The President wants to go back to how things were three months ago. He doesn’t want to have us accept a new normal that is… new. He wants it to be the way it was. Not different. That’s what he said and we should probably take him at his word..
And so, to get back to “before” he and his team will make decisions unburdened by facts or by science. Decisions that seem to value the level of the stock market far more than the lives and safety of the workers they are urging to return to workplaces unburdened by the nagging nudge of CDC guidelines on safety.
After a while, this starts to seem like it’s just a numbers game to the administration. One where we write off another 60,000 deaths as “just the cost” of doing business — a price we pay to reopen the economy. Each of those numbers though is a father, or mother, or sister, or brother, or child. Each has value that we have an obligation to consider.
This disease will take more lives, no matter what we do. I know that. And I know that not every death is about someone screwing up. Bad things are happening. But we don’t need to recklessly exacerbate the problem. That, however, is exactly what we seem to be doing in pursuit of “getting back to where we were” without carefully calibrated decision-making on how to most effectively restore the nation’s economic health while protecting our physical well-being.
From my perspective, the vision for the economic reopening seems is as clouded as the vision for the medical response has been. The administration’s preferred strategy seems to be a matter of lifting restrictions and hoping that jobs and sales miraculously reappear. (They might want to suggest as well that we invest in coffins… there may be a boom in sales).
Is it too much to hope for a plan? I guess so. And I guess it’s too much to hope that the CDC recommendations will be shared. And I guess it’s also too much to expect our President would have spoken out to decry folks being shot for asking others to wear masks. And I guess it’s too much to expect our leaders to set an example by wearing masks and keeping a distance when they venture into health facilities and factories to demonstrate their leadership. Obviously, I have wildly misplaced hopes and expectations.
It galls me though that at the same time the President wants men and women already struggling with the challenges before to us to be “warriors” risking themselves to reopen the economy. And he suggests we’ll all be okay, if only we are careful — if we wash our hands and keep at appropriate distances. We’ll be ok if we just do… well, if we just do all the things that our leaders apparently AREN’T willing to do. Go figure.
We don’t have a phalanx of doctors taking the temp of anyone who might enter our presence. We don’t have the luxury of testing at the drop of a hat. We don’t get to fly in our own plane, limos, etc. But we are told we should be the warriors. We should take the risks. And we should do so despite the lack of a vision, a plan, or even a chance to hear from the CDC experts our tax dollars support.
I’m sure that the administration will tell us that they have a plan. But if the disjointed, seemingly ad hoc choices they have offered so far are a plan, they have certainly failed in inspiring most of us to believe In it.
So, as long as there’s enough “crazy” out there, maybe I’ll be like the dogs and keep chasing that possum. It keeps me busy at least as I navigate in this brave new world.
Stay strong, stay safe, stay healthy.
(From my daily COVID-19 Blog. Post for May 7. https://diplodogsinretirement.org/cancel-everything/