Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?

May 11th, 2020

Categories: Crisis, Death, Health, Jobs, Life, Mental Health, Priorities

We are all collateral damage to this virus, some more than others.

For starters restaurants, airlines, retail and small businesses of all kinds, museums, theaters, consequent furloughed/fired employees and retired citizens living on savings all suffer. In addition to and as a result the country’s mental health has taken a terrible blow. Heading the list: substance abuse; domestic violence, alcoholism and suicide. The headline from a Well Being Trust & The Robert Graham Center Analysis: “The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide.” People are understandably desperate.

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam at The Washington Post reported last Friday that April job loss at 20.5 million with unemployment rate at 14.7 percent is “the worst since the Depression era.”

Policymakers have to make Russian Roulette-like decisions, the most difficult of their careers: Life loss over jobs? Jobs over potential sickness and death? The data on which to make decisions and forecasts of where this unpredictable tornado-like virus will go is mercurial: Every week we learn of new twists and turns as experts struggle to recognize symptoms and cobble together remedies. And too many interpretations appear to be political which doesn’t feel right in a crisis.

Between the squabbling and posturing I’m not sure who is leading the charge which is troubling. The president tossed the ball to the governors. CDC standards to determine when it’s wise to reopen businesses are followed by some but not all governors and nothing is done to enforce them.

Some governors on the east coast are coordinating the acquisition of personal protective equipment so they don’t compete and achieve the best prices but that seems to be it. They are not in sync when it comes to opening beaches, businesses and restaurants which Governor Cuomo has previously said is essential due to their proximity and the fluidity of citizens armed with cars.

  • Connecticut expects its restaurants to welcome patrons–with restrictions–on May 20. Whether town beaches are open depends on each mayor according to ctpost.com. For example Greenwich beaches are open to residents and Norwalk’s on a “case-by-case basis.”
  • New Jersey’s sun lovers will visit its beaches Memorial weekend.
  • NY State parks and beaches are closed at least until May 31 according to a NYS parks website. In order for a region to open under Pause New York, which expires May 15, it must meet CDC criteria: “a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.” The NY State website spells out the priorities regarding business openings. In Phase I: construction, manufacturing & wholesale supply chain, select retail using curbside pickup only, agriculture, fishing. Only in Phase III do we see restaurants and food service that many other states have long opened. A crucial component: A region must keep an eye on data and be able to pull back and shut down again if the numbers of Covid-19 cases increase.

Do you feel secure that your state is interpreting the criteria for raising the gates to reestablish the economy while protecting workers, citizens–and you?  With the exception of NY Governor Cuomo, who has said time and again “hold me accountable; blame me,” the handling of this pandemic is like watching a child’s game of hot potato where some leaders don’t want to be holding the spud when the music stops. Who has a handle on the true full picture? How will the federal purse control/disperse life and worker-saving funds when regional criteria differ so drastically? Will exacerbated mental health issues be given their proper due by government and insurance companies?  And most important, who will ultimately determine which comes first–the economy or risk of death?

 

Cats sheltering in place in a neighborhood pizza parlor, hungry for company.

 

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6 Responses to “Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Dealing with a virus is similar to investing in an online crapshoot. New York’s governor appears to have gotten the picture and is playing the best he can: By ear. Politically he’s making enemies by forcibly slowing the economy until he can safely call an all clear. He’ll make a number of friends as well: Among them,those who don’t get sick or die because of his precautions.

    Money can be replaced, but when a cherished friend or family member dies, it’s final. This is a simplistic fact apparently not understood by the Vice President. If and when his luck runs out, and a tragedy results from his failure to protect either himself or others, he’ll have not only high explaining to do, but many pieces to gather.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I fear that Pence’s response will be “It is God’s will.”

    I saw this back and forth on Twitter last week and think it is apt:

    One Tweet:
    Pastor Paula White-Cain, White House Spiritual Advisor: “I declare divine intervention and supernatural turnaround. You will restore this land.”

    Here’s a response/Tweet from Jesuit priest Father James Martin: “I believe in God. And I believe in science. God has given us minds to use. If we choose to ignore science, and refuse to take all the necessary precautions against the coronavirus, for as long as we need to, then our prayers will be ineffective. A little humility is in order here.”

    As for Gov. Cuomo, he works with available data and what he likes to call the facts rather than opinion. The tricky part is that the data keeps changing but he has shown himself to be flexible. And he does his best not to get sucked into the political drain.

    All we can ask of any leader especially now is that they do their best for their constituents and hope that they can put politics and self-serving actions or words aside.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    “God’s will,” eh? He may or may not get away with it under normal circumstances, but not now. There’s too much anger to find this acceptable. The VP knowingly and willingly forced authorities of another state to forego face masks, and should someone get sick or die because of this, claim it’s God’s will?

    Cuomo et alii don’t have the answers, but are doing the best they can, with what clues they’re given. It sure beats knowingly putting lives in danger and blaming God for dismal results.

    Between you and me, it will take a lot of guts on Mr. Vice President’s part, to blame God. Now, imagine you’re God, and this worm is pointing the finger of blame your way? Need I go on?

  4. BC Said:

    The country survived the flu pandemic of 1918-1920. Then we did not have massive cheap testing, or medications. Vaccines were embryonic. We will survive this pandemic, though we will lose some folks along the way. No one has a crystal ball. The virus might slow down during the summer, as it does not like heat, but surge again in the fall / winter. Tincture of time will give us the answers.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    God is used to being worshiped in a wide range of ways. I’d not thought about whether he had a temper or that he might be irritated by being used as an excuse for making wrong choices by ignoring what we have learned through science. All anyone can expect from us–and our leaders–is that we do our best and save political games for another time when we have the collective strength to tolerate the outcomes.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    In vintage photos of the 1918 pandemic social distancing didn’t seem to be part of the equation. When I Googled photos of the period folks were standing or working on top of one another.

    I don’t think that impatience is exclusive to New Yorkers who want everything yesterday. All of us are used to getting answers to many of our questions pronto. It’s frustrating for us all to live with constraints with nobody knowing for sure whether they will do much good and conspiracy theories popping out from every corner.

    A respite from the virus in summer would be a blessing. I wonder whether citizens will have the stomach to shelter in place again in fall after a bit of relative freedom.

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