Opinion: COVID19 descended on the United States like a blanket being thrown across an uncovered bed. From New York to California, from Texas to Florida, COVID-19 leaped into our lives, disrupted our lives, and forced us to change. The fact is, we had to change whether we accepted COVID as a threat or not. We all modified our behaviors. If you say you did not, then you must have had secret access to restaurants, non-essential businesses, churches, civic clubs, and other places that the rest of us knew nothing about. You may have tried to ignore it, even said it would not affect you, but it did. In March, daily briefings came from the White House all the way down to the local county and city governments. Governors gave us daily updates on numbers. Web sites went up – even the Four States News has a special page dedicated to the COVID-19 numbers – and many of us learned what working from home really meant. Television commercials, entertainment, and even movies were all modified to support the COVID fight, support those at home, and provide encouragement during what may well be one of the darkest hours of this new decade. March, April, May, and June all rolled by, and then suddenly, something happened.
There are few of us that did not notice when “something happened.” States like Texas began a “Phase One,” followed quickly by a “Phase Two” opening up. Other states like Florida decided to open completely. Places like New York allowed BLM gatherings, protest, and even riots to continue but then continued to condemn church gatherings, funerals, and even just yesterday broke up a Jewish Orthodox funeral. While some areas seemed to accept that COVID was the “new normal,” other places continued to crack down and lockdown. Nursing facilities in Arkansas are just starting to open their doors a little while nursing facilities in Texas can open, but only with strict policies, procedures, training, screenings, and even training for those who visit their loved ones. In the meantime, the facemask signs have started to disappear from businesses, have become less enforced, and in some restaurants, the protections are completely ignored. Sunday, National Taco Day, I went to a local restaurant to pick up an order and was surprised to see the restaurant full, no mask, and table, after table filled with people sitting next to each other. In some areas, it seems that everything will be “back to normal” by November. Even the schools that did not have students return in August are now discussing students returning to campus in January.
But, the overall and burning question, continues to be since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, “What exactly has changed?” If we are to look at the numbers, there certainly has been a change. We have now passed the 210,000 deaths from COVID-19 – if you believe the numbers being published. We now have over 7 million people in the United States alone who have been infected at some point. So, there is a change…but, in the big picture, we still have people getting the disease just like we did in March. We still do not have a cure or a vaccine, and we are still learning new things about the disease. Honestly, except for the numbers, nothing has changed, yet we are opening up as if everything is cured, completed, and done with COVID-19.
I have said it before and will repeat it…the nation, the states, the cities, and the counties or parishes should never have shut down to the extent that they did. It was a mistake that destroyed the economy, lives, businesses, and production in the country. It did nothing – absolutely nothing – to stop COVID-19. Sure – maybe someone could argue that it slowed it down some. Maybe someone could argue that we would be at a million deaths now if not for the closings. Fewer deaths and fewer infected certainly is a good thing…nobody would argue against that, but did it change anything in the long run? If we are going to open now as if it’s cured, and over, then won’t the result of being open now, as we go into the flu season, be far worse than being open during the summer? Will not opening everything now return us to the brink where we stood when they closed everything in March? Sure it will.
The bottom line is we should never have closed then, especially if we were going to open again while the crisis is still active. Closing the country down in March was the equivalent of having a broken arm and deciding to break both your legs so you can stay home and mend your broken arm. It was, and in my opinion, wrong. Nothing has changed from March to now, except we have more infected and more deaths. Because of the actions earlier, we now have conspiracy theories, those who are simply tired of the restrictions, and those who have decided it’s just not worth fighting anymore. As a friend told me the other day in reference to perhaps a conspiracy theory, “We are over the election infection.” No, nothing has changed except the number infected, the death totals, and our willingness to allow the government to restrict us. Most of the evidence points to the fact that we simply delayed the spread and will now face greater numbers of infections and likely more deaths as we continue to disregard COVID because we are all tired of it.