Yesterday, was the one year anniversary of Governor Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency on account of the coronavirus, which is easy to remember because it is also my birthday. That day remains the most recent time I have shaken anybody’s hand. Today is the anniversary of WHO declaring a global pandemic. We have lost 527K+ lives along with countless jobs, milestones, and opportunities for basic human connection. Tonight, President Biden addressed the nation to mark this grim milestone. While I still wish we had handled some things differently, I feel better now than I ever have about the progress we are making, the acknowledgement of what many of us have been feeling, and even a bit better about the sacrifices that have been asked of us. It’s amazing sometimes what a difference the little things can make!
One Year of Pandemic
Please share widely!
I’ve seen and talked to more colleagues in the last week than I have the whole year. Tomorrow my speech team can compete (virtually) in the building from our classrooms which will help kids without reliable wifi or quiet spaces in their homes. A beloved former student registered me for my shot. She came all the way up from Philly where she’s at an intensive premed program at Penn to help her community. On Jan 20th our long national nightmare finally ended. Yesterday President Biden made me feel like this annus horribilis is finally going to end.
I was vaccinated Tuesday as a volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps in Southbridge.
Volunteers helped over 600 people, mostly seniors, get their shots in one day.
Steve Consilvio says
I was so naive a year ago. I remember thinking it would only last a few weeks.
That’s what we were told! We were supposed to flatten the curve, just spread out the infections so the hospitals were not overwhelmed all at once. Then we decided to be fearful of any spread and stayed in a holding pattern until vaccines were available. This has probably been the most obnoxious case of goalpost moving I have ever seen.
Steve Consilvio says
I thought flattening the curve was a dumb idea, because it assumed it was going to spread. What we needed was a hard lockdown, which we have yet to do, to isolate the spread. I see it more as basic incompetence and not as moving the goalposts. The goalposts were pushed by the spread of unending denial. Regardless of our understanding of the virus, we always knew it spread person to person. Isolation was the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to stop its spread. All we had to do was a little bit of planning ahead to separate the population into moving truely essential groups, but it never happened. Voting has consequences. Choices have consequences.
I don’t see incompetence. I think the government was in the control of dark and cynical forces who saw the pandemic as another way to oppress people of color and impose white minority rule.
Huh? Trump resisted his own authoritarian tendencies to assume more control even when people mostly on the left were encouraging him too. Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised and relieved.
My objection is that we locked down too hard too fast without planning for it, plus there are a couple of strategies I would have always objected to on general principles.
At the time we were told to flatten the curve in April of 2020, there were six tightly-concentrated hotspots nationwide in the raw daily case rate (unadjusted by population or area and unsmoothed): Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, NYC/Boston, and Miami. The rest of the nation was largely unaffected. When adjusted by population or area, the disease was even more compact.
That effort to flatten the hotspots was largely successful. Hospitals were NOT overwhelmed with patients. Acute care providers learned, through experience, care and case management, techniques that worked and techniques that did not.
The scenario most feared by public health provisions did NOT come to pass — there were no regions of the country where people were dying from heart-attacks, strokes, injuries, and infections because hospitals and ICUs were filled with COVID patients.
From relatively early in the pandemic, it was clear that people most at risk were those who lived and worked in crowded settings with high contact rates. The GOP and Donald Trump cynically recognized that the hardest-hit areas were blue, and that hardest hit populations in those area were core Democratic Party constituents — working-class families and immigrants that were very likely to be people of color.
The result was an explicit politically-driven strategy of denial and deceit. Real-time data about the progress and spread of the disease was intentionally suppressed. Federal scientists were muzzled and those who attempted to speak out were punished. Competent leadership was replaced by subservient political hacks and ignorant compliant thugs.
The problem was neither over-reaction nor goalpost moving. A nationwide lockdown would have required wildly draconian and authoritarian measures that, for the overwhelming majority of Americans, would have been clearly and correctly seen as an out-of-control authoritarian government imposing arbitrary house arrest for no defensible reason.
The problem was a federal government in the control of a corrupt, cynical, and utterly racist political party intent on fomenting insurrection and chaos in order to seize control, through force if necessary, of the levers of government in order to impose its racist and self-serving agenda on an emerging majority of Americans. That problem was aided and abetted by a conscious, intentional, and successful Russian effort to do as much damage to representative democracy in the US as possible.
History will show that this pandemic was used as a pretext by the GOP to inflict as much suffering and create as much chaos as possible. The goal was to fire up disaffected whites.
The “crisis” of early 2020 was nothing compared with the surge that followed in the fall — a surge that closely reflected the obscene political campaign conducted by the GOP.
It began in the southeast in late summer, then spread northwestward into the upper midwest. By mid-November a week after the final campaign rallies), the entire region from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee to Colorado and the Dakotas was a massive hotspot. By mid December, months of lies broadcast by Fox News and the GOP caused Thanksgiving to be a holiday of super-spreader events that widened the region of devastation to range from New York and Connecticut to Texas and from the Canadian border to the Gulf coast.
This is all easily seen on the map I’ve been publishing for a year now (http://covid.zeetix.com) — turn on population and area normalization and choose daily cases with smoothing. Then use the “Pertains Date” control to step through time.
This map shows a crime against humanity perpetrated by Donald Trump and his white-supremacist GOP with the aid, support, and funding of Russia. Nothing more and nothing less.
Now it sounds like you and I are closer than I have felt we have been regarding how to address this. I have long said that measures should be targeted to hotspots and decisions should be made as locally as possible. I’ve long been tempted to write an “If I were in charge of pandemic management” diary and one thing I would do is appoint you the data czar. 🙂
Steve Consilvio says
Doesn’t the 500000 dead show that the curve was not flattened and that no draconian measures were applied? Our only chance to defeat the virus was early, when the hotspots were limited. That was when draconian measures would have worked and made the most difference. Granted, we knew very little at the time, so it was a “better safe than sorry strategy,” but as usual people were more worried about money than anything abstract.
As far as Trump goes, his whole campaign and tenure was based on spreading fear. It’s remarkable that he didn’t use fear to consolidate power, etc. Doublethink is full of surprises when doublethink has doublethink.
I would have locked down high risk settings and done more contact tracing, but there is no excuse for what some were advocating in a free and advanced society. Fewer sledgehammers, more scalpels. The objections I have were about a lot more than money, though that was an early concern before enhanced unemployment kicked in.
No, absolutely not. The first wave WAS flattened — there would have been far more deaths had it not been. We in the northeast were particularly successful at flattening the curve, largely because masking and social distancing were never controversial or resisted in any our urban areas.
It is the red states of the southeast and midwest that, ironically, have been devastated by the pandemic. The steadfast refusal of those regions to mask or social distance has led to their downfall. Sadly, they make the center of America a reservoir of the virus that threatens all of us until most of us are vaccinated.
Not surprisingly, this is the same demographic that seems to be flatly refusing to receive vaccinations.
It’s the worst failure of representative democracy in my lifetime, and perhaps in US history.
Donald Trump was never the leader of this, he’s never had the strategic chops, focus, or discipline to pull this off.
Donald Trump may have been a catalyst, but I think Vladimir Putin is the ultimate puppetmaster. The Trumpists (the party, separate from Donald Trump himself) have indeed used fear to consolidate power. They have used the power of Fox to relentlessly hammer home lies about masking, lies about vaccines, lies about virtually everything — all with the common theme that the “deep state” and non-white “liberals” are “stealing” an “America” that is “rightfully” theirs.
The Trumpists do not care about policy and never have. They did not care about the success or failure of their pandemic policy — it was and is irrelevant to them.
They care about power. The purpose of the “stop the seal” propaganda campaign was and is to spread uncertainty about the election and challenge the legitimacy of the government. The purpose of the nationwide efforts to use state and local government to suppress the vote is to weaken non-whites and strengthen their base.
Had we had nationwide masking and social distancing, the peaks in the fall and winter would not have happened — blanket lockdowns wouldn’t have made much incremental difference.
Narrowly targeted lockdowns based on reliable real-time infection data would have been enormously helpful. That’s the best explanation for why the prior administration did all in its power to suppress the data needed for that approach.
Heh — of course, I meant “stop the steal” above. I’m not sure that the GOP has any issue with seals … yet.