It’s tiring. I get it. Dealing with the pandemic is exhausting: wondering if any time you touch something that you’re picking up the virus, or if that person is walking by a little to close, or if it’s worth the risk to pick up some fresh vegetables from the store. It’s been months!
And it’s going to be many months more, thanks to the completely inept handing of things by the Republicans in this country. I single them out because they took common-sense safety precautions and politicized them. How is wearing a mask to limit the spreading of the virus a political question?
But thanks to Governor Abbott here in Texas, the number of new cases of COVID-19 infection is climbing rapidly. Here in San Antonio we had the biggest number of new cases (311) on Tuesday, and the most significant increase in the number of people on ventilators. Houston has the world’s largest medical center, but is so overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases that its Children’s Hospital has started admitting adult patients. Back in April Abbott issued an order that forbids localities from enforcing rules requiring face masks, in an effort “open Texas back up”. There was no evidence that the risk of contagion was gone; in fact, everything said the exact opposite. But in keeping with the Republican strategy of pretending it’s gone, he kept lifting the restrictions that had kept the infection rates low. Now the infection rates are spiking, and they’re acting surprised. The same pattern is happening in Florida, where Governor DeSantis is likewise pretending that things are normal.
And this isn’t a case of “how could we have known?”. Every epidemiologist was saying that re-opening was the wrong thing to do. Every medical authority was saying that we needed more testing to understand the extent of the disease, and that we needed stricter precautions: masks that cover the nose and mouth, full social distancing, and banning public gatherings. We have the evidence from the last global pandemic from 100 years ago: relaxing the precautions led to a second wave of infections. This may be the first time any of us have experienced a pandemic, but it isn’t the first time it’s happened, so we have historical data.
But instead the Republicans, following Trump’s lead, ignored that advice in the hope of giving a boost to the economy.
How is this anything but criminal? If I kill someone so that I can get some money, that’s murder. But if I kill someone to boost the economy (and, by extension, help myself get re-elected), that’s just politics?
Nobody could have prevented this pandemic. I’m certainly not blaming Trump, Abbott, DeSantis, or anyone else for it. But it could have been handled in a way to minimize the suffering and death, as we’ve seen in other countries that treat this like the medical issue it is, rather than political football.