Do You Even Know What’s Going On Out There?

It’s invisible. It hides. It seeps. It waits. It attacks. You can be right beside it and never know, or be right beside it and be struck dead within weeks.

Because of these traits, especially the invisible part, we have millions in this country who still refuse to believe coronavirus is real. Facts and stats be damned, they cannot see it, so it cannot possibly be a thing.

I find that hilarious, in a very dark humor way. These same people will beat you over the head with their chosen faith — something so very many have zero difficulty incorporating into their lives — that bone deep belief in something they can neither see, taste, smell, or hear — but they laugh at the thought of am equally invisible deadly virus.

None of you have ever seen Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Elohim, Krishna or any of the other 6,000 currently worshiped deities, yet you tout them in your online profiles, bring your favorite flavor to my doorstep uninvited, visit the local fan club weekly to sing songs, chant, commune, BELIEVE. You are steadfast without substantiation. You are committed without proof. You are devoted without the tangible.

So why, when you repeatedly prove daily that you are capable of believing in something you literally have zero proof of existing, do you resist so mightily the reality of the COVID virus that has now taken 258,654 of your countrymen and women and children?

Rhetorical question — in a country of over 330,000,000 people, 258,654 means most of us still live in blissful little bubbles where no one we love or know has succumbed. Even with 12,093,903 people having had it since February or battling it anew currently, that is only 3.6% of our population.

So in the absence of heart to heart transmission of grief and loss, ignorance is indeed bliss. It is also deadly.

I have tried to use this space for months to convey the very real, and real-time, statistics of this virus. I have endeavored to make it more visceral, more relatable, using stadiums, cities, etc to provide a visual of the enormity of the loss we have sustained. But with COVID literally surging everywhere in this country, I am left to surmise that one very real question remains here:

Do you even know what is going on out there?

A perfect example came to me this morning in an article in the Atlantic. It details the herculean efforts of hospitals around this country as they have battled this virus for nearly nine months now. It highlights the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha — this country’s pre-eminent facility for handling emerging infections.

Back when SARS was threatening us in 2003, they set to preparing themselves to handle the inevitable — a deadly viral outbreak like COVID-19. Training, setting protocols, running drills, establishing the only federal quarantine unit in the country. Diligently working to prepare, yet hoping against hope that their efforts would never be called into action.

Want to know what their facility now includes because of COVID, the virus you cannot see, don’t believe in, and whine about forcing you to wear a mask when you grocery shop?

From the article:

In the past two weeks, the hospital had to convert an entire building into a COVID-19 tower, from the top down. It now has 10 COVID-19 units, each taking up an entire hospital floor. Three of the units provide intensive care to the very sickest people, several of whom die every day. One unit solely provides “comfort care” to COVID-19 patients who are certain to die. “We’ve never had to do anything like this,” Angela Hewlett, the infectious-disease specialist who directs the hospital’s COVID-19 team, told me. “We are on an absolutely catastrophic path.”

An entire building specifically for COVID, including floors where you go to die. That is real.

Across the country, convention centers have been converted into COVID care units because hospitals can no longer handle the number of patients while still maintaining their need to be available for heart attacks, emergency surgeries, hell, a dog bite. Dead bodies pile up in refrigerated semi trailers. Prison inmates are being paid $2 per hour to transport bodies from the hospital to the trailers where they wait, wrapped up with hundreds of others, anonymous in their cocoons. El Paso has released this job opening/description:

Any takers here? Not exactly your dream job, huh? More like a nightmare that some desperate souls will step up and do for us. Will they be lifting your 100–400 pound corpse? Don’t think it cannot be you.

Currently our dead represent the complete wiping off the map of the population of Lubbock, Texas. Or this entire highlighted area of the United States.

How are you ok with that? How is this still so abstract that you refer to it as a hoax, a plandemic? You believe Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, multiplied fishes and loaves, rose from the dead, yet faced with 258,000+ dead people, that is just one step too far for your brain to go.

But back to UNMC…

As experts fill the Twitterverse, the news channels, the newspapers, imploring you to stay put, not travel, Zoom your Thanksgiving and Christmas and Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, and as you stomp your feet, cross your arms like a belligerent three year old, and fill your diaper over the mere thought of being asked to forego sharing in-person Stove Top stuffing this year — here are some things to chew on…

UNMC is fuller with COVID-19 patients — and patients, full stop — than it has ever been. “We’re watching a system breaking in front of us and we’re helpless to stop it,” says Kelly Cawcutt, an infectious-disease and critical-care physician.

Cawcutt knows what’s coming. Throughout the pandemic, hospitalizations have lagged behind cases by about 12 days. Over the past 12 days, the total number of confirmed cases in Nebraska has risen from 82,400 to 109,280. That rise represents a wave of patients that will slam into already beleaguered hospitals between now and Thanksgiving. “I don’t see how we avoid becoming overwhelmed,” says Dan Johnson, a critical-care doctor. People need to know that “the assumption we will always have a hospital bed for them is a false one.”

What makes this “nightmare” worse, he adds, “is that it was preventable.”

Their statements are acutely about their own facility, but apply broadly to hospitals across this land. Hospitals in every state are already straining under the increased COVID load. If you think you will simply waltz into the ER should you become ill, think again. I described exactly how that scenario played out back in March — a dear friend having to leave her seriously ill husband at the ER door, herself denied entrance to be with him, her sitting in her car helpless, frightened. How he was dangerously ill, having difficulty breathing yet he was sent home TWICE to lay on the couch and wait to get far worse so she could take him back.

That is the reality we have once again brought upon ourselves by our selfish, arrogant actions. The reality wrought by a president who chose pumping his own ego with super spreader rallies instead of protecting and beseeching the nation to stay the course, hell, even begin a course. The reality forced upon us all by the bullshit “Liberate!” “anti-masker” “Q says masks are slavery” crowd. The reality brought to death (not life) by the empty heads on FOX, OANN, and spread like warm butter throughout the conspirasphere on Facebook, Parler, every rancid hidey hole of every disbelieving MAGAt.

Look, despite what your inner narrative strokers like Charlie Kirk, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and Diapered Donald want you to believe, we liberals do not hate the holidays. We don’t hate Thanksgiving, we don’t hate Christmas. We don’t hate Arbor Day for god’s sake. We love ritual, and tradition, and cranberry sauce shaped like a can just as much as you do. And we love to share it across the table, not across the miles, with our friends and family. But apparently there is something we do hate that you simply refuse to get on board with.

We hate the thought of losing one of those friends, one of those loved ones to this deadly, easily transmissible virus.

My family will be celebrating Thanksgiving next week by Facetiming one another. And it’s ok. No one’s going to die from not carving a bird together. We will be having a ZOOM Christmas morning. And it’s ok.

You know what, scratch that. It’s not “OK” but it is what we will do because this country is where it is with this pandemic. I LOVE CHRISTMAS. My kids are all adults, but on Christmas morning they are still my little kids, laughing, hugging, eagerly waiting their turn to open a gift. I will miss that terribly this year. So no, it’s not OK, because you people and your tantrumps, your belligerence, your arrogance pushed us to this place where an estimated 421,000 will be dead before spring.

It’s NOT ok, but it is what we will do because it is smart. And I would rather forego these holidays with them in person that we are all alive to have a shot at them in 2021.

What makes this “nightmare” worse, is that it was preventable.”

Let that sink in. Take a moment and look beyond our borders to places where they buckled down, listened to the experts, masked up, distanced; where their governments actually supported the populace so people could stay home; where they beat the virus down. There is still no vaccine available, no cure if you get COVID, but the simple actions other countries have taken have demonstrably shown just how shallow, ignorant, and selfish is our country.

We are where we are and there is no one to blame but ourselves.

People are contracting COVID at an alarmingly fast rate. Yesterday we set another record — 185,527 new cases. Another 2,000 people died. In Texas, a state with 29 million people, over 1 million cases have been reported. That means 1 in every 29 people. In North Dakota, over 2/3s of COVID tests are coming back positive. THAT is what is going on out there.

Again, I get it. In the absence of a heart stabbing loss to you personally; with no personal health scare of your own, no gasping for air, no intubation, you are loathe to believe in what you have not personally seen, experienced.

But when you enter your place of worship this weekend, mumbling the words you know by heart, gladly handing over cash in the offering plate, and praising a deity you have zero proof exists, ask yourself if your god would be cool with you playing so fast and loose with the greatest gift He/She/It has bestowed upon you: YOUR LIFE.

Every god teaches lessons about community, charity, sacrifice, and the greater good. All the things we need to acknowledge to fight this pandemic together. It’s time to fully understand what is taking place out there and see where the rubber meets the road in your ability to have faith, to believe. If you can so readily believe in God, I promise you it is a lot easier to believe in COVID.

The saying goes, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Echoed in Jeremiah 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.

You are capable of faith, of belief. The proof of COVID everywhere. You just have to finally open your eyes.

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Linda Sharp

Author, columnist, blogger. Don’t Get Me Started and Transparent Trans Parent blogs