Pandemic Reflections #3

So Glad That’s Over

Remember back when we were worried about the pandemic? We thought we had to stay away from crowds, keep six feet apart, all that good stuff? I’m so glad that’s over. Crowds have been everywhere for the past week and there are no new cases of Covid-19.* Public health officials and politicians have all endorsed crowds. We finally know how to end a pandemic. 

Essential Travel Only

One of the saddest signs of the times has been the sign on the front of our buses discouraging people from getting on. It reads, “Essential Travel Only.” We used to have a thriving transit system. Pre-Covid, that is. Maybe now that we’ve lived through a week of crowds everywhere, we can get rid of that sign and go back taking buses around town for fun things? Nah. Probably not.

Protests? What Protests?

I’m sorry, was something happening in the streets this past week? I couldn’t tell  because our retirement home management issued repeated warnings for us not to venture outside. The only commotion I know of was in the air. Helicopters (and supposedly an FBI spy plane) were constantly buzzing around our neighborhood. I freaked out for a minute this morning when I heard what sounded like a crowd on the street very near us. But when I looked out, I only saw a socially distanced group of people in white lab coats. Presumably this was a group from the biomedical research facility next door to us holding a meeting in the street so they could stay six feet apart. I think they were celebrating some good news because they made a lot of noise. 

Seriously, the Protests

OK, yes, I know. People have been protesting across the country for more than a week about police brutality. Seattle and other parts of the area have had crowds here, there, and everywhere. Surprisingly, at least in Seattle, these crowds are not being led by the local Black Lives Matter folks. Seattle/King County BLM has issued a nice statement expressing concern about the pandemic as well as gratitude for the support expressed by the various crowds. It’s worth reading.

How Will it End?

The Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s tackled the low-hanging fruit, if you will: voting rights, red-lining, desegregation, access to higher education and jobs. There is, in fact, cause for optimism because a lot has changed for the better. Sadly, persistently racist people have found ways to throw monkey wrenches into every instance of progress, and things have not changed enough. The question now is how to move forward from here. I do not think we have any guarantee that we will like the outcome of today’s protests. I believe things could improve; but I also believe that we could lose our country as we have known it. 

Election?

Lord, I almost forgot that we’ll have an election in the fall! Once again, I do not think we even know that we’ll have an election that we can trust. Let’s imagine that we do succeed in having an election with a clear result and that Joe Biden wins. Maybe Trump even moves out of the White House and Biden moves in. Just look at the mess he’ll inherit. He won’t be able to fix everything. Will some asinine Tea Party group muck everything up? Will the crazies on the left muck everything up? Will the international situation fall apart to the degree that who knows what will happen? I pity Biden if he wins. I pity the world if he doesn’t. 

Uncertainty

How’s your tolerance for uncertainty? I predict that by November 3 we’ll all know the answer to that question. I learned this week that I couldn’t even tolerate seven straight days of disruption with no guarantees of a good outcome. I kept up with the news for several days, but maxed out. I’ve lost confidence that we’ll be able to pull together to restore our democracy, address inequalities, manage the pandemic, and work out of the financial hole this virus has put us in. Is there an emoji for despair?

*This statement in section one might not be true.

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