John Colson: Hey you protesters, take a breath, think, and quit it
Hit & Run
The news is not good on the COVID-19 front.
For one thing, China has announced a concentration of new cases of coronavirus in a town near China’s border with Russia, and some fear this is the first sign of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the world’s economy to its knees.
Then there’s the fact that the U.S. continues to lag far behind where it should be in its level of testing for the virus among people who are asymptomatic but may have the virus anyway, testing that remains crucial to our national understanding of where we stand in terms of the contagion.
Given those unhappy developments it is incredible to me that an unfortunately large number of idiots are clamoring for the U.S. economy to be “reopened” immediately, instead of waiting for the medical and scientific experts to conclude that the level of infections in this country truly are in decline and it may be safe to begin a phased reopening of certain kinds of businesses.
And, as pictures from small protests in Denver on Sunday show quite clearly, these deluded malcontents were marching around the capital square without masks, gloves or other protective gear. Many were obviously ignoring social distancing guidelines, and it is extremely likely that some of them have been at least exposed to the virus or, at worst, have it but aren’t showing symptoms, meaning they can easily infect others in the crowd.
I understand that this is somewhat new territory we’re wandering through, as a nation and as a world, and some of us just don’t know how to act in the best interest of ourselves and those around us.
This is particularly true of those of us who have been conditioned by ideology (or the deeply uninformed venality of President Donald J. Trump) to disbelieve everything that does not match with our own preconceived (and too often tragically wrong) notions.
I saw a picture of one man carrying a sign declaring “Fear is the Real Virus,” and was chagrined to think that in other circumstances, at other times, I might have agreed.
But with more than 2.4 million people infected across the globe, and a virus-caused reported death toll more than 166,000 worldwide and more than 40,000 in the U.S. alone (as of Monday), I most emphatically do not agree with the sign or the thinking behind it, if you can call it thinking.
Consider those numbers for a moment.
As the death toll mounts, it is clear that we might soon exceed the number of active-duty U.S. military personnel killed in the Vietnam War (more than 58,000) in the period from 1965 to 1974, the time when we were most heavily engaged in the conflict.
Compare the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic so far — a few months, at most — to the nine years of fighting in Southeast Asia, and you should begin to understand that we are on a path of far greater devastation in terms of human lives than anything brought about by the war.
According to news reports, the U.S. now has the distinction of being the nation worst affected by the pandemic, with more than 761,000 diagnosed cases and who knows how many that have yet to be detected. And the broad uncertainty underlying these statistics does not even take into account the fact that in many cities and states officials are coming to believe that the published numbers are way off and far too low.
The unvarnished fact of life today is that our federal government, at least as it is represented by Trump and his minions, has never taken the coronavirus seriously enough and has failed us utterly.
What’s worse, Trump has tried to lie his way out of responsibility for his government’s fumbling of the whole matter, from late January, when the first case in the U.S. became known, until last week, when he egged on the protesters in a horrific and blatantly political bid for re-election in November.
He is cynically using his addle-headed “base” to attack Democratic governors in several states for their determination to hold the line on stay-at-home orders and other pandemic-related safety measures.
To those enmeshed in this evil political gamesmanship, I can only ask that you take a deep breath, think about what you are doing to yourself and your loved ones, and quit it.
To all the rest of us, as I have noted before in this space, the most important task we face now is getting rid of Trump at the ballot box in November.
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