Having charted the COVID numbers since the beginning of March, seeing the patterns, the surges, the dips, I have thought a lot about death. The absolute tragic visual of filling stadium after stadium with our American dead. Scrolling through our cities to find similar populations in an attempt to further illustrate the irrevocable damage being done by this virus.
I have screamed out loud, in my head, and through this keyboard trying to translate the science, the sanity, the precautions; railing at the capriciousness and idiocy of so many who ignore the warnings and have often paid the ultimate price.
Through it all, this quote has played in my head:
We all owe life a death. Deep down, we all know this. From the moment we are born we are working towards dying. Simba, Circle of Life, etc. etc. It’s inevitable. Our bodies are organic matter not meant to last for eternity. The best we can do is care for them, nourish them, try our best to avoid danger, and enjoy the days we get, never knowing the quantity.
But what we have seen in the behavior of far too many since this pandemic took hold, is the capriciousness that has led to unnecessary death, where the person has wasted their life. Owing to hubris, ignorance, belligerence — bodies have piled up because COVID simply does not care what you think of it.
Call it a hoax. It laughs and kills you.
Call it hysteria. Coronavirus laughs and kills you.
Call it a deep state-Q-level-plandemic-5G conspiracy. It laughs harder and kills you.
It is insidious, patient, and deadly. And it knows that while it may be a foe, we are actually the real enemy. We are doing far too much of its work for it.
From 9am yesterday to 9am this morning, we added 148,237 cases. We lost over 1,500 lives. We have jumped from 742 to 747 deaths per million. We now average 32,536 positive cases per million.
These numbers are real. They represent real people like you, like me. People who laughed, loved, LIVED. Sadly they also represent a large percentage of people who did not take this virus seriously, laughed it off as no worse than the flu, mocked mask wearing, went to rallies, parties, out and about. They also listened to their Halloween hued hero who promised them “it’s not really killing anyone anymore” and that we were “rounding the curve.”
This is the only curve we are rounding. This is the line for testing at Dodger Stadium yesterday.
This is the Trump administration’s fault — they have all but given up on the citizenry of this country. The Tangerine Toddler is in hiding because his feewings are hurted by losing the election, his minions are busy filing lawsuit after lawsuit to appease his tantrumps, each getting thrown out of court for lack of evidence (now 0 for 16), and the head of the Task Force (Pence) is on vacay in Florida.
They do not care about us. Hell, they do not even care about themselves. The fallout of Trump’s unmasked election night superspreader party at the White House is that currently 8 people, from aides to Mark Meadows to Ben Carson to Corey Lewandowski have all come up positive.
So when you have the leader of the nation flouting the precautions, of course you are going to have the 70 million who voted for him doing the same.
Yes, we are all tired of this pandemic. We are so over isolating, missing birthdays, postponing weddings, seeing sports, trips, and graduations canceled. But we are also entering a very dark and dangerous period. Our boredom with the virus combined with the upcoming holidays added to the current surges seen everywhere are the tragically perfect recipe for far more deaths.
We have over 60,000 people in hospitals across the country — all fighting for their lives, fighting for a spot on a ventilator. In the past 8 days alone there has been a 30% increase in patients admitted to hospitals. Morgues are overflowing into refrigerated trucks in parking lots, and we are running out of those. All because we think we are untouchable. Because we are selfish pricks. Because we are our own worst enemy.
This is a map of the current state of COVID affairs. This illustrates just how spread works. The white dot is Sturgis — home of the ten day motorcycle shindig back in August — an event that routinely draws a half million people from far and wide. The pictures that came from that period show crowds of unmasked, partying folk not giving one whit about COVID.
Now look again at the white dot. The deeper the blue, the higher the concentration of COVID cases currently. That is how a pandemic spreads. In this case, it hopped on the back of thousands of Harleys and away it went back home with the ignorant riders.
But it wasn’t just Sturgis that has helped facilitate the surges we are seeing. Despite copious warnings, Trump had to get his narcissistic fix. Everywhere he held a masturbation campaign rally, cases rose dramatically as did deaths. Texas, where Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said of elderly people earlier this year that they would be happy to die for the economy, just surpassed 1 million cases. In fact, El Paso currently has more people hospitalized than do most states. ICU beds in Tulsa are full. Iowa’s hospitals are near capacity. North Dakota’s hospitals do not have enough doctors. In Ravelli County, Montana, they have run out of hospital beds and TEACHERS due to the severity of their COVID outbreak.
The rest of us do not get off easy, however. Ennui with this way of living is seeing more and more people taking chances in smaller settings, willing to be self indulgent. Pandemic fatigue is finding people having game nights, dinners parties, carpooling — any manner of more intimate social settings — and the numbers of cases are rising accordingly.
An article in today’s Washington Post details how public health officials are tracking outbreaks to smaller social gatherings. Again, understandable that we miss our friends, our kids (hell, I just traveled to see my son last week), socializing and laughing with them, but taking our friend’s word for it that they feel fine, does not mean they are fine. It does not mean YOU are fine. Asymptomatic carriers “cause ongoing transmission, frequently infecting multiple people in a single gathering.”
Health officials are steeling themselves for what is sure to be a tidal wave in the aftermath of Thanksgiving get-togethers in two weeks. In fact, many are warning that we should all begin getting used to the mindset of earlier this year when we had to lockdown; that we should be stocking up again on paper products, disinfectants, food, to limit our exposure and need to go out.
We are fucked. It is that simple and that blunt right now. Our government doesn’t care, and because of our own behavior and poor choices, we have become the kind of country we typically pity. In fact, Doctors Without Borders — you know, the ones who travel to far flung locales to help the poor, the hungry, the diseased, the suffering, the dying? — are now operating here in our country.
Let that sink in as you contemplate that Thanksgiving invite from Aunt Suzie, as you think ahead to a family reunion at Christmas.
And it’s not simply the risk of death should you contract COVID. The lasting effects are being discovered more and more each day. Lung issues, heart weakness, blood clots, hair loss. But also, this week a study revealed that 1 in 5 patients who recover from COVID are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within three months. And if you already struggle with mental illness? 65% of those with a psychiatric diagnosis have been found to contract COVID.
There is much we have learned to help in this fight, to better equip the public, but there is so very much we still do not understand. Why does one 80 year old contract it and live, but a healthy 5 year old gets it and dies?
The holidays are coming. Shopping, tree lights, invitations, families, church. And COVID in a pear tree.
Sacrifices must be made this year. For once and for all, we must take this seriously, deadly seriously. A new administration is coming — science will again be at the fore, humility in the Oval, and capacity to effect change throughout the cabinet. In the meantime, we are on our own.
Since I began writing we have added 34,730 new cases. We have lost 266 more lives.
Again, COVID may be a foe, but we cannot keep being our own worst enemy.