The USA, having been in quarantine over a month is beginning to chomp at the bit. Stay at home orders have caused various stresses in individuals and groups. Many people feel cramped at being confined, can’t pursue hobbies, are worried about family and friends who are health care workers, are concerned about money, their own health and the future. Global economies are feeling the strain, putting pressure on politicians to create novel responses to this pandemic.
BACKGROUND: Some of this tension has begun to explode into protests. Nurses in some hospitals, who do not have proper PPE, walked off the job and held signs in front of their hospital. “Patients were coughing directly in my face”, said a nurse who tested positive for Covid-19. “We need N95 masks, these cloth masks are not enough protection”. There is a baseless conspiracy theory, linking coronavirus to the roll-out of 5G technology. Protesters buying into this theory, smashed cell phones and burned a telephone mast. Yesterday, a headline from my local paper read, “Rallies Against ‘Stay at Home’ Orders Grow.” Protesters across the USA are going to their state capitals, by car or by foot, pushing the agenda, “re-open the country.” Groups rallied in at least six states over the weekend. One protester said, “I have bills to pay, employees to pay. Those of us that are not sick, should be allowed to work.” At the political level, governors are asking for more coordinated leadership and support from the federal government. Governor Cuomo of New York said, “I do not have relations with China to secure the supplies I need for testing. I need the federal government to make that happen.”
PROBLEM: My neighbor works for LabCorp, one of the nation’s leading testing companies. She said a testing machine costs $750,000. Her company cannot go forward without federal aid. Without adequate supplies, like the equipment to provide mass testing, there is no way to trace this disease. Without contact tracing, one cannot predict a downturn. Without proof of a downturn, opening up the economy too soon risks a resurgence in places where the virus has started to plateau. This causes more death. Some think it is worth it. The founder of Paychex, who is worth 2.8 billion dollars said, “the damages of keeping the economy closed could be worse than losing a few more people.” To save his stock portfolio, he is willing to minimize human life. Not his own, of course. For average Americans getting back to work and exposing themselves to the virus is riskier than for richer people. So we have two important contrasting needs. We have a need for testing but inadequate supplies and a need for a pressure valve to address the desire for more freedom and a return to normalcy. Inadequate testing makes it impossible to identify and contain any future outbreaks, yet the impingement on personal freedom is making people boil over into protesting, which risks more infection.
SOLUTION: Pray for your Governors, trying to steer the boat toward the middle of the river, away from the rigid rocks of total control over people, and also away from chaotic explosions of protests, that will spread this virus and kill more people. Listen to the piece from last night’s, “Global Citizen Concert”, including Lang Lang, the pianist from China, Celine Dion from Canada, and John Legend and Lady Gaga from the United States. Even though these artists were separated in different rooms in different countries, they sang, “The Prayer” in heartfelt harmony, to soothe a hurting world.