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Minnich: Empathy is a COVID-19 victim, too l COMMENTARY

Has anyone else wondered if the rise in COVID-19 infections is just because so many had a good Memorial Day weekend, or did another shadow slither across the sun?

It seems to me there is more than just one reason for the uptick in numbers, and more than mere coincidence.

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At first, we were told anyone could get the virus, and many could have it without symptoms, which made it easy to have carriers transmitting the germs among the entire population. So we had the lockdown, and everyone got on their cellphones and moaned about how long they’d have to stay in their room.

But we’re Americans, and we want to do the right thing so the majority of us stayed home if we could — or got sent home by the boss. We washed our hands and wore gloves and kept our distance from friends, even though the boredom was almost unbearable. We resolved to go the long haul, like maybe a month or something.

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What first chipped the resolve was the reality sinking in that a month was not going to bring about a great deal of improvement, in spite of our president saying it was all going away like magic; he had everything under control, not to worry.

Cracks in the resolve spread when the money the government said was coming to tide businesses over and keep workers in their homes was less than reliable.

Small businesses didn’t get the love that the big boys did (campaign donations and golf-course connections thing, y’know?). People saw some following the lead of the president: If you had faith in God and Donald and the right to do whatever you want, you don’t wear masks.

We hate masks. We hate people who make us wear them. Weenies and liberals and Democrats wear masks. Real Americans gargle bleach and take ultra-violet endoscopies and maybe colonoscopies to get the ultimate clean-out because it was disloyal to doubt the thinking of the president.

Besides, this quarantine thing is boring, and cutting into fun time. There is work to do, parties to attend, vacations. Sports.

Science was working on a vaccine, and in the meantime, try some of those experimental drugs that Trump said a friend of a friend told him everybody was talking about.

And then, walls came down as public pressure to be more like real patriots, real conservatives, real freedom-of-choice, self-reliant, Americans who show no respect for government overreach and less for a virus got more and more restless. Impatient, they leaned on Republican governors and local political leaders to open up and let people go to work, go to the bars, party, and get back to normal.

Here’s the kicker: the pressure to forge ahead and open up was concurrent – or was it because? – new facts were being reported in the endless drumbeat of reportage on national cable news and social media and everywhere else, like an echo in a steel drum.

It was reported that the overwhelming majority of victims who got really sick and died were not just elderly, they were Black and Latino — and poor.

It was alleged that any increase in the number of cases was because they were finding more with increased testing. This led the “stable genius” to suggest to White House staff that they should test less and reduce the totals being reported. Sure. Why not?

Young and healthy and white and middle- to upper-class white young people got the message. When interviewed they grin and shrug and say they’re not worried about it, doesn’t affect them, no big deal.

Now the latest breaking news: Trends are that young people are getting infected after all, and they are being hospitalized, and the severity of the disease is ravaging their health and leaving lasting effects on their health as it returns with a roar. It could be life-threatening, and life-changing, and not just for old poor people of color.

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Someone change the music, please.

Dean Minnich retired from journalism and served two terms as a county commissioner. His email address is dminnichwestm@gmail.com.

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