At its essence, the deadly Covid-19 pandemic boils down to this — we are biological organisms locked in a battle of wits for survival with a micro-organism that has no brain.
In the United States, the micro-organism is winning.
In early April, the European Union, which has a population of 447 million, and the United States, which has 330 million persons, each were recording more than 30,000 new cases per day.
On June 19, the United States, which already has lost at least 117,000 dead, recorded 31,360 new cases in one day as infections trend upward. The European Union has dropped to and is holding steady at only about 4,000 new cases per day.
What’s the difference?
For one thing, we have too many citizens who live in a fantasyland divorced from the realities of microbial science, which tells us the peril is still with us and that disciplined distancing is still required.
For another, ineffective and irresponsible leadership.
Locally, Exhibit A is the decision of New York state to allow and the Kingston Board of Education to schedule a graduation ceremony at Dietz Stadium on July 17.
Even if one takes the leap of faith to suppose the wearing of masks and social distancing for this event will be scrupulously observed, the fact is that the one thing that seems to tie together all of the recent surges in U.S. cases is gatherings. And, with the possible exceptions of weddings and funerals, there’s nothing quite like high school graduations to promote unregulated gatherings in private homes and backyards.
If the whining and entitled parents who are said to have pressured the Board of Education into this folly want to imperil the health and very lives of their family members, one might coldly conclude that’s up to them. But the harsh truth is that the short-sighted decision to approve this event is an institutional failure that imperils us all.
Most of the members of this community have voluntarily sacrificed for months to try to tamp down this epidemic. And, now, this? A district enticement to gather on the taxpayers’ dime and potentially spark an outbreak? That is both irresponsible and a terrible message to the community about what it will take over the long haul to continue to stay safe.
As the Washington Post reported on June 19 (https://wapo.st/2Yij3uQ), “health experts in countries with falling case numbers are watching with a growing sense of alarm and disbelief, with many wondering why virus-stricken U.S. states continue to reopen and why the advice of scientists is often ignored. ‘It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,’” said a top infectious-diseases specialist in New Zealand, which has heeded the science and has had a total of only three cases over the last three weeks. “’I can’t imagine what it must be like having to go to work knowing it’s unsafe.’”
Well, there is little psychological barrier when you live in a fantasyland governed by feckless decision-makers.
Just try to remember — it’s the virus in this fight for survival that doesn’t have a brain.