Crumbling up newspapers to start a fire in the wood stove this morning, I came across the Seattle Times issue of March 2, 2020.
The headline reads: “2nd U.S. coronavirus death in King County; more cases likely”
I could not help but think, aw, look how sweet and naïve we were a couple of months ago, before schools and businesses were shut down, before people were thrown out of work, before the unemployment offices were swamped, before people were dying in the tens of thousands.
There is a guy named Matt on TV whose ad has been playing a lot. He says, “One thing we know for sure is that we’ll be getting back to normal …”
Every time I see that ad I yell, “NO, Matt, we are NOT getting back to normal!”
For one thing, over the last few months, say from December to the end of April, a lot of people would have died in the regular course of events. Add to that number this year an extra two hundred thousand deaths, give or take, attributed to the coronavirus.
That’s an estimate based on the recorded numbers, but the recorded numbers for the pandemic are sketchy.
The United States leads the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths. The numbers vary depending on your source, but as of Saturday, April 25, several sources report that the US has had more than 50,000 deaths from COVID-19.
The fact is, we don’t really know how many people have been infected by the coronavirus. We don’t know how many people have died without being tested or diagnosed. We don’t know how many infected people have not been counted. We do not know how many governments are lying about their statistics.
Doctors are still learning about what this virus does, and how it behaves. Yes, it can make mush of your lungs and lead to multiple organ failure, but it can also make blood clots throughout your body and give you pulmonary embolisms or major strokes. At first it was believed that older people were more vulnerable, but the virus turns out to be more egalitarian than that regarding the age of its victims.
So, families and friends of about two hundred thousand people are grieving, along with the millions who are grieving the deaths that were going to happen anyway.
We are not going back to the normal we knew.
I dream about the new normal. Wouldn’t it be great if the pandemic brought about national healthcare in America, like there is in the rest of the free world?
Why is medicine still a for profit business in America? Why do people lose their homes, lose everything, because of medical bills they can’t pay, even when they have insurance? Short answer: there is too damn much money to be made. Money is more important than people’s health or welfare in this country.
Wouldn’t it be great if the people who could make a change realized that there must be a financial safety net when there is a worldwide emergency that affects every single person?
I saw a mean looking man with a bow tie on television the other week. He was saying that we had to beware of this pandemic making the welfare state expand.
I wanted to reach through the screen and crush his windpipe. That impulse was unChristian and unworthy, and I pray for forgiveness, but a person gets tired of the conscienceless rich getting richer and the poor getting deader.
Heck, yes, expand the welfare state. Shave a small percentage off the defense budget and stop starving people and leaving people homeless and depriving children of education.
Yeah. That would get Mr. Bow Tie’s knickers in a twist.
Wouldn’t it be great if the new normal included time to be ourselves, time to be with our families, time not to be running our butts off to chase the almighty dollar, and included our current awareness of how precious we are to one another, and our being kinder to one another? You know, like now?
Some places are “opening up” now. Some people are refusing to isolate or quarantine because they think it impinges on their liberty. I’m thinking, great. Here comes the next surge of infections.
The coronavirus has made it easier for a lot of us to ask, “How are you?” because we really want to know, and to say, “I love you,” because we do, and we know there may not be another chance to say it, or hear it.
Which reminds me: I love you, you wicked monkeys. Get out there and laugh at a stuffed shirt today.
Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay safe. We need you.