Time to reopen what we think America is? Which America?

More than 100,000 Americans should be dead by June. More than half-a-million worldwide. Are we ready to return to an illusion of normal?
(Courtesy of Axios)

On a day when some businesses, restaurants and other parts of Virginia may resume some services, with restrictions, the COVID-19 Coronovirus pandemic has killed at least 85,000 people in America and more than 300,000 worldwide and medical experts say many more will die before this nightmare ends…if it ever does.

As death rates remain high, more than 100,000 are expected to succumb by June 1 in the United States and the global death toll is expected to total more than a half-million.

“The United States is a country to be pitied,” says columnist Eugine Robinson.

“We didn’t isolate, we didn’t test, we didn’t contact trace, we waited too long to lock down,” Robinson wrote Thursday in his Washington Post column. “The phrase “American exceptionalism” has always meant different things to different people — that this nation should be admired, or perhaps that it should be feared. Not until now, at least in my lifetime, has it suggested that the United States should be pitied.”

“The American way of life is shaping up to be a battleground,” says Keeanga-Yamatta Taylor in the New York Times.

He adds:

On one side is the working class. From Amazon warehouse workers to striking sanitation workers in New Orleans, there are limits to what ordinary people are willing to endure to secure their employers’ bottom line. Resistance to oppression and exploitation is a familiar experience for millions of workers in this country. And when workers have not found justice or relief in mainstream politics, they have turned to more combative ways of mobilizing to secure it.

On the other side is the Republican Party, led by the Trump administration, which has accelerated its call for states to “reopen” the economy by sending people back to work. While President Trump admits that some people will “be affected badly,” nonetheless “we have to get our country open.”

Public health experts disagree. Instead, they argue that testing rates must “double or triple” and that we need a more intense regime of “contact tracing” and isolation. This has been the established pattern in countries that managed the coronavirus with success. But without these measures, forecast models predict a sharp rise in fatalities. A conservative model that in mid-April predicted a ghastly death toll of 60,000 by August now estimates 147,000 fatalities by August. Just as the rate of infection drops in cities like New York and Detroit, new outbreaks threaten to emerge elsewhere where restrictions are being relaxed.

This may seem far away from Floyd County, where only four have diagnosed with the virus with one hospitalized and no deaths, but county residents work in the Roanoke or New River Valleys, where several have died and the infections now number in the hundreds in the hundreds.

A few, but not a majority of restaurants may open this Friday or over the next few days but most eateries do not have outdoor dining capabilities. Our schools remained closed for what is left of this academic year and one is sure if the will be open on time in the fall.

Floyd, a town with an evolving tourism-based economy, faces a summer without attractions open to draw visitors. No FloydFest this year, no Small Town Concerts. Events like The Frida Night Jamboree depend on crowds packed together on dance floors or on the streets listening to the music — activities sill forbidden in a society where social distancing is a considered a vital was to survive.

An increasing number of county residents are newly unemployed and only a few are qualifying for unemployment benefits.

With sales taxes and other tax-paved revenue plummeting, states must look to cutbacks to have any chance of survival in both the short and long term, and the decision to reopen or not is too often based on political and economic consideration that discount worker health and survival of us all.

Work towards the development of a vaccine is hampered by a still-evolving understanding of the deadly virus. Until recently, we were told that sneezing spread the disease. Now it turns out that talking, without a mask, sends the lethal droplets to hang around long though to someone to pass through that space of air up to 14 minutes longer.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that a screening test used by the White House to screen staff members and visitors “may not be accurate” and could spread fast negatives that prevent the detection of those actually infected.

Virginia, medical experts say, is combining differing tests that skew the numbers fo who might be infected.

For retailers, any rebound is likely to be gradual. There is no guarantee that customers will return in numbers previously seen — and even if Americans feel comfortable going out to shop, they may not have as much money to spend, because millions have lost their jobs.

A return to normal? What normal?

 

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