The weather was glorious in Southern California the past week, as it was in much of the nation. The beaches and Boardwalk were so crowded, full of families who had clearly come from other parts of the city to escape the confines of crowded apartments. No, it wasn’t the usual crowd of druggies and bikers and meth heads but families old and young crowded together and partying.
L.A. County officials say it will take 14 days before they know how many will get sick or die from the fun. And make no mistake: They will. Los Angeles is the epicenter right now. We plateaued too high in coronavirus deaths. The more open we become, and the more reckless, the more people will get sick and die.
It’s understandable. Some days, I feel like I’m going nuts, ready to crawl out of my skin. And I have a backyard. Fun? Who doesn’t miss it?
But this epidemic is not over, and it won’t be until people put on masks and we can implement contact tracing.
Everyone assumes that it’s only a matter of months before we will have multiple vaccines that will allow us to resume our “real” lives. Who says? We’ve never come up with a vaccine for a previous coronavirus, and it would be a lot easier if there weren’t asymptomatic super spreaders running around.
And just how are we going to get the entire world vaccinated?
No one can promise an end to this, not one that will fill stadiums or movie theaters very quickly.
The “new normal,” we call it when a loved one is gone or facing a serious disease and everything – everything – changes. We are living with the new normal, and it is frightening the extent to which it depends on a unity of purpose at the very time the president is politicizing this as a red state-blue state issue, threatening to pull the Republican National Convention from North Carolina unless the state promises him a full crowd.
How much applause does this man need?
How many lives did he risk with his maskless speech at Arlington National Cemetery? This is how he mourns?
The people out there spitting their beer at their fellow drinkers don’t think they’re going to die of COVID-19, and they are almost certainly right. But they might be carriers. Half of them are convinced they’re so strong that they probably had it and didn’t know it, and the rest figure that if they get it, they’ll get a few weeks off work and survive. Kids aren’t likely to die: There’ve been cases, but how many?
All that is true. What is also true is that these risk takers are just walking, talking grenades, ready to sicken and perhaps kill their boss, who has diabetes; or the cleaning crew at the office; or the guy sitting next to them on the bus; or their own family and loved ones; or themselves and their kids, because probability doesn’t matter when you’re a control group of one.
It was Trump’s politicization of the coronavirus news coming from China that led him to weeks of talk about “hoaxes” and Democratic plots. Had we shut down one week earlier, Trump – had you listened to the scientists instead of your son-in-law, the ultimate yes boy, 36,000 Americans could not have died. How do you explain that to their families?
If Trump can show up at Arlington without a mask, why should anyone wear one? He is tested every day and protected every minute of the day more closely than any human being on the planet. You – if you are out there without a mask – are looking for it.
So let me tell you this – thankfully, not from my experience. There are asymptomatic people. There are also people who will suffer permanent lung damage, people who are still recovering months later.
And most of all, there are people dying – people just like you, actually. It doesn’t matter what state they’re from. We fought that war. What matters is that we each do everything we can to protect one another. Our president doesn’t get it. But our lives and the lives of those we love depend on us getting it.