As someone who lives in New York City, once considered the epiccenter of Covid-19 in the United States, I can attest that mid-March through late April was one of the eeriest times in my life.
What was most terrifying was the uncertainty. With deaths racking up in China, Italy and Iran, and the scientific community scrambling to learn a virus totally new to medical literature, the only thing we could do was hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Restaurants and most shops shut down. Everyone was (and most still are) working from their homes. More and more of the brave folks who ventured outside were wearing masks until they became ubiquituous following the governor’s order.
At certain points, it became hard to fathom being on the other side of the curve.
But there were inspiring moments, too. Stories of people recovering after weeks in the hospital thanks to the tireless efforts of medical workers. Daily applause from residents at 7pm in salute of our healthcare professionals and all other essential workers who still were fulfilling their duties in the midst of a pandemic.
And here we are on July 10th. After recording 12,274 new cases statewide on April 4th (mind you, it was certainly much, much higher because testing wasn’t widely available then), we recorded 588 yesterday. Most shops are opened. People are less afraid to be out and about. We earned this.
We flattened our curve. How did we do it? Through solidarity.
We sufficiently quarantined. We wore masks, if not out of concern for our own health, out of respect for others. We socially distanced. We were led by a governor who was making decisions based on science and facts.
We made sacrifices for the benefit of the greater good. It wasn’t about us, it was about our parents, our grandparents, our neighbors. And here we are. Though the worst has passed in New York, nearly everyone in New York City is still wearing masks, even as the streets and sidewalks return to normal and more people are engaging in outdoor dining.
We all lived through this. We know people who have gotten sick, even died. We don’t want to be back where we are again.
And yet, if we do get there — it may not even be our own faults.
That same day, on April 4th, Texas had 793 new cases. They had 10,909 new cases yesterday.
Florida had 1,277 cases. Their new caseload hit 8,935 yesterday.
And Arizona. Oh Arizona. You may be coming around politically, but you’re conservative tendencies run deep. After logging 250 new cases on April 4th, they hit 4,073 new cases yesterday. Arizona currently has more new cases per million residents than any other country in the world.
In fact, if every U.S. state was a country, then 15 of the 25 countries with the worst current caseloads would be from America. Thirty-seven states currently have rising cases.
What do those states have in common? Their leaders were indifferent on enforcing simple, proven protective methods like masks and social distancing, and were all open for business by early May.
This is absolutely maddening. Not only did these states have the example set by Europe to learn from, but they also had the Northeastern states in their own country to learn from. New York. Connecticut. New Jersey. New Hampshire. Massachusetts. States that took this virus seriously since day one.
If this isn’t a perfect storm of stupidity, ignorance and failure in leadership to the highest degree, I don’t know what is. Every resident in those states who now must fear for their elderly family members and their children should be pissed off. Heck, everyone should be pissed off. Because America can’t flatten their curve until all states flatten their curves.
New Zealand has eradicated Covid-19. Germany and Denmark reoopened schools without experiencing major setbacks and the rest of Europe is basically back up and running.
The United States, meanwhile, is failing. Indeed, the only countries that are still failing are either impoverished and underresourced, or led by wanna be autocrats. What terrific company we find ourselves in. Ya know, being the greatest country in the world, and all.
It’s not too late for these states to turn it around. But they have to realize that, to this point, they were wrong. They were wrong to reopoen to quickly. They were wrong to assume the economy is more important than people’s lives. They were wrong to think Covid-19 wouldn’t impact them.
Hubris can’t play a role, now. There’s too much at stake. Admit you were wrong, and do what’s right.
My local neighborhood bar finally opened with outdoor seating two weeks ago. It’s been the highlight of my summer so far. I it has to close again, I’m directly blaming you, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and all you other states who thought you were too cool to lock down.
Because when you dick around with a man’s neighborhood dive bar, that’s when it becomes personal.