We’re in the calm before the storm, our federal government isn’t giving states or cities much help or guidance. They can’t be relied upon to develop enough proper testing for COVID-19, and aren’t acting fast enough to stop the spread. Evidence suggests that if drastic action isn’t taken soon, there will be an exponential growth of infection rates of COVID-19: this write up here does a great job explaining it’s growth.
Currently, Italy might be the best example of what the USA might face – they didn’t take drastic actions early enough and their medical system is on the verge of collapse. Our national response is too slow, and, ideally, we’d be doing widespread testing and quarantining, but the failure to produce tests makes the prevention of it spreading community-wide difficult. This puts it on states, cities, schools, and universities – but there are questions of their urgency as well. This is a problem where early drastic action can have major mitigation impacts. What does this mean?
It means that:
- Early drastic action can reduce the speed and depth of the spread of this virus, taking it from something major to mild.
- It means if we do this, and it ends up mild, we did it right.
- If we don’t, the chances of major social, economic, and health impacts are high.
We all have a part to play in this and those that are at low risk for infection are key in stopping the spreading of this virus. Locally, we need to be shutting down all events. If you can work remotely, don’t go to that event, cancel that party or gathering, give people space when you have to be out and about. Also, if you can use soap instead of disinfectant and hand sanitizer – disinfectant and hand sanitizers are so very important for those with compromised immune systems that hoarding them puts them and all of us at higher risk.
But there are broader, much sadder, social implications to a possible widespread outbreak in the United States. Race will play in the infection and death rates of this virus. Already, Black Americans face racial disparities in the quality of their health-care, regardless of access. We also know that Black kids, due to environmental racism, face higher rates of heart, lung and other respiratory conditions. This virus is putting many Black Americans at high risk across the nation.
If we do face widespread infections, many of our Black and Brown elders, who have faced life-long environmental racism, and poorer healthcare, face a higher likelihood of being lost to this. To put it simply, we face the culling of many of our elders, not only are we facing the loss of lives but the loss of stories and history that has yet to be told. There is so much we’re facing that we won’t get back: the last of our civil rights generation, and those that grew up during the Black Power movement, all they learned is at risk of being lost to us.
Our schools and cities must think about those that are homeless, those that face eviction because they can’t work, food for kids that depend on the school to eat, elderly who depend on others to care for them but aren’t in a home, care workers, service workers, there is so much going on. But it is time for collective action and collective responsibility, think of others, think of your parents and grandparents, of your neighbor, and to take your individual actions to help the collective – this is our way through.
Don’t downplay it, don’t think it’ll brush over. Outbreaks like this depend upon us taking them seriously to make them not a threat. There is a lot of information out there from virology experts, and those studying COVID-19, they all say to take this seriously and to take as drastic action now, before it is too late. Life, culture, and history are at risk of being lost.
This is not about panic, but being pragmatic, smart and measured in a time of possible crisis. Prepare for the worst and you won’t have to face it. Dismiss it and the worst will come. As much as you can, create as much social distance as you can possibly create now. But stay smart, check in on each other, look out for each other, and be a community.