Let’s say that we’re both, you and I, staying home, washing hands, all the things they tell us, and you ask me, “Do you understand any of this, Mike?”
I’m gonna just shake my head. Because I don’t, but the worst part is, I don’t think anyone really does. Or can.
“Shelter in place”, they say. Then they change that because the expression is used for mass-shooting situations when movement is dangerous. So they tell us “social distancing” is the key. “Stay at home” they say is better for the situation.
Trump never called the virus itself a hoax, but the confusion over his exact words still exists. He alluded to the “total vindication” he had received after months of calling investigations into his campaign and his phone conversations with the Ukrainian president. “a witch hunt”. At least once a day. Of course, like me, that shit made your eyes roll and your stomach knot.
It was never a witch hunt. And the things he and his campaign staff and attorneys did were all real. One thing that made us boil with anger was that it seemed as if none of that mattered to Republicans on the Hill. No, they weren’t going to convict him after his impeachment, and Mitch McConnell warned us in advance that they wouldn’t. Then, the coronavirus showed up. Trump said it was no worse than the flu, but never said it wasn’t real. He did completely downplay it as being used as alarmist propaganda by democrats, referring to it as “their new hoax”, another attempt to unseat him. Essentially, it had the effect of conveying the idea that all of it was a hoax. Including the virus. It’s not my fault that articles and op-ed pieces failed to make the distinction; it’s my fault for not fact-checking what I had little reason to question. Confusion.
WHEN DID IT START?
It is entirely possible that the COVID-19 virus was infecting people as early as November, and I believe this to be so. But it doesn’t matter; the Chinese government was pretty quiet, and with a communist dictatorship in place, you and I can hardly be blanched by that kind of thing; it’s their way. Reports of the virus were squelched by the government, which allegedly silenced doctors by imprisonment or the threat of it. What’s confusing is the timeline between that and the the warning that an unknown virus believed to be novel (a word which indicates it originated in animals and was not seen before in humans but had made that transition, as had the SARS and MERS viruses) was now on the loose and highly infectious. The WHO apparently made this known to someone and allegedly the Trump administration also squelched it way before Trump called it a hoax. It could have taken two months before the news really got out and the claims of a hoax came out. In either case, both governments are suspected of a cover-up.
Adding more confusion is the Republicans’ evasion of questions early in March by saying “we can’t look back, only forward” which is a verbal smoking gun. They just don’t want anyone to know.
Lives have been lost because this virus spreads so easily through droplets which can remain suspended in the air, invisible and undetectable for long periods. It can survive on plastic and steel in most weather for long periods of time as well. And it’s already mutated. That’s everything you need for a worst-case scenario.
During any remaining conversation you and I have, we will both be confused by how fast it jumped countries and the reaction each country had or lacked, how it overwhelmed so many health systems so rapidly, and just how ill-prepared we were and why. Healthcare for emergencies is supposed to be cutting edge in America. We found out it isn’t. While we could handle casualties in some natural disasters, and I say that harshly because after 9-11-01 and its aftermath and the H1N1 virus of 2009, and our miserable reactions to Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, Sandy and every one that followed, we shouldn’t have been unprepared. No fucking way. And we had a pandemic response plan after 2009 because the Obama administration did learn a scary lesson, but guess what? Trump decided we needed the money the response program had for something else. Like a beautiful, big wall no one could ever climb, and that Mexico was going to pay for, except they stressed even during Trump’s campaign that they weren’t going to pay for “that fucking wall”; in fact, Mexico knew, as you see in this video, more about Donald Trump than average Americans did during the primaries. It turned out that Vicente Fox was exactly right.
Let’s throw some more confusion into the mix. Because Trump has never stopped running his mouth about The Wall. And even when congress made a budget allowance for wall repair and some new sections, he drew money from other sources. Oh, nothing critical. Military, for example. He had that bloated anyway. Because we’ve been fighting terrorists, while at home aging defense systems get jack, and Trump wants a “Space Force”.
The stupid, puffed-up bastard thinks he knows it all. So full of himself he can’t see past his own shadow, he knows nothing about our orbital capacity or what’s even up there. He is notorious for not knowing the simplest workings of our government and for rejecting facts and asking for “pictures and maps” instead of written material in briefings. He’s fired everyone who had a brain in favor of idiots willing to do all kinds of stupidity on his orders. Remember Rex Tillerson? He was Trump’s Secretary of State for a while. And say what you want, but the man had international standing, was smart, and he was articulate. He actually did his best to smooth things out when Trump’s hateful tweets stirred up ire. At one point, so frustrated was he that he called Trump a “fucking moron”, which was bad for his brief political career but actually quite accurate and one big “Yes!” moment for me.
So we’re dealing with a man who’s business experience is literally robbing Peter to Pay Paul, but in this case, he just took funds from government agencies and programs to do anything he wanted to, including building The Wall, which has become a world-wide subject of great derision.
One lone section, claimed by Trump to be “hot” and even electrified or radioactive, no one knows which, was scaled so many times freehand that the climbers actually competed for the fastest time. And a military officer on site responded dubiously to Trump’s claim that it was either electric or radioactive by saying, “Perhaps it’s best not to say, Mr. President.”
And one panel of the wall fell down. The wind blew it over.
Where’s the money coming from? Partly the budget. Then there’s diverted funds. That pandemic response program Obama gave us? Gutted and shut down early in Trump’s term. And we’re paying for it with lost jobs, drastic changes in our lives, and with burying dead people. Ultimately, that’s at least partially on Trump. A man who has at least three times denied responsibility. He also wasted precious time, condemning people who were most at risk of having complications to die.
The confusion continues. While I spent most of this year sick with what I took to be the flu, knowing as I did that this season was an especially virulent one with not one, but several strains, I had every symptom of coronavirus including a protracted dry cough. I believe I did have viral pneumonia, but it resolved on its own. When lying on my back I could barely breathe. Between January first and March first, I took a bottle of Benadryl caplets and started on a smaller blister pack. I probably fried my liver with Tylenol, I took enough aspirin with it that, being on blood thinners, I spent an hour in the bathroom trying to stop hemorrhoids from bleeding. Twice I got up too quick, even though I used wipes and checked them for blood after applying pressure, and bled through my underwear and jeans and didn’t know it.
I’m still coughing up sputum, which I take to mean the congestion was significant and my body is still trying to get rid of it. It’s even possible I had it twice, staying in and being ignorant of what was probably already going on all over the place. In the early part of the year, I recall physical contact with someone from California.
Who knows? It’s true that most people can get the coronavirus and not know. Even high-risk people like me can have bad symptoms and not bother to see a doctor. I was advised by a nurse to go straight to the hospital. I was close to it twice. Then, I began to feel a little bit better. The flu is a real motherfucker. It is. But what if I had it first, leaving me wide open to COVID-19? What if it was the coronavirus all along, and it was so protracted because I’m a three-time heart attack and a triple bypass survivor, a diabetic? Who can say? I would need a chest series to see if there’s any damage. Still have times of short breath, but coughing up material tells me I’m still recovering so there may be nothing to worry about.
What I’m trying to say is that nobody was testing back in January, and cases spread without detection, which is how we got to this point. It was the deaths and the critical cases that caused the testing, and that’s recent. I submit that the coronavirus was here at least a full month before anyone is saying. Look at the blooms on the map. That’s confusing and misleading because it show exactly what you’d expect from the beginning of an epidemic. But hotspots clean across the country that only show up because of positive tests tells us that the virus was being transmitted undetected well before mid-February.
We’ve got something no one has anything absolute as far as the facts. We think it’s a bat virus that made the mutation enabling it to use humans as hosts. We’re one month to two years from a vaccine, depending on where you read or watch. Most people who die are over 60 and have underlying conditions. But young people die as well. Confused? Yes, I am.
Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings will go down in history as the most sobering and concise sources of good data we got from the beginning. The man’s the rare person perfect for the times in history when they were the one for the crisis at hand. Also, other governors like Maryland’s Hogan have made me proud. Men and women doing extraordinary jobs in desperate situations.
But they’re a stark contrast to the mess and chaos of Trump’s daily briefings, so full of misinformation and personal attacks against China and the press and certain governors that Rachel Maddow lamented that the briefings were being covered by the media at all. And frankly, I’m with her. You talk about confusion, those press conferences are the embodiment of it. Trump lies and wants his “team” to back him up, and they contradict him, so he brought in Pompeo, for some reason, I’m not clear on the reasoning or mechanic involved but probably just to say some Trumpian bullshit. I honestly can’t remember anything he said and I’m not going to watch it again to find out. During the Friday conference when Peter Alexander was savagely and ridiculously attacked by Trump, VP Pence later answered the question Trump dodged. Asked what message he had for Americans who are scared, Pence said, “Don’t be afraid, be vigilant.”
I’m sorry. This is confusing coming from a Trump bootlicker. Pence looked more like a leader than Trump did by simply answering an easy question. When Mike Pence makes you look bad, you done fucked up, bud.
This is a bad time. A chaotic, scary time. China may be on the brink of containment, reporting no new cases. Italy is a fucking disaster. Lombardy is especially hard hit and the social makeup and cultural practices as well as architecture all combine to form a perfect storm. Cases are reported on every continent except Antarctica. The densely packed poor sections in Europe, South America, Asia and North America will continue to be hit hardest. Air travel has been responsible for transmission since December or earlier; there’s no way to tell and reports of a “patient zero” in China have to be taken with a bit of salt.
And Trump doesn’t help that point of view. His constantly calling COVID-19 the Chinavirus is egregious, it’s inflammatory, prejudiced and evil. It helps nothing except to stop morons from blaming him for the deaths of Americans because of his delay and insistence that it was a Democratic hoax.
He’s put off testing supplies, ventilators, the National Guard, as if he honestly wants people to die. A more stupid bastard never took the oath of office.
His propaganda replaced truth. His policies are destroying this country. I’m confused as to why people are allowing it. Why are people so fucking cowardly and irresponsible that they can’t just tell Trump “No”?
The coronavirus will be with us well into the summer. Easing restrictions on gatherings and businesses will cause a rapid secondary spread. It will be back in the Fall. From now on, it will be part of every flu season. And I’m still shaking my head. Masks, gowns, goggles and gloves. We don’t have them. If you want to keep comparing it to the Spanish flu, which is wrong, there’s one way you can make it almost as bad.
You can vote for Donald Trump.
You know what really happened in the Spanish flu pandemic that went on for two years?
People got fucking buried. Lots of them. More than you can picture. It was a different flu; you woke up fine and you were dead by sunset. This virus ain’t that powerful. I see no reason for the botched handling and lies that have cost too many lives.
The Land of Confusion. That’s us. Our United States. We were better than this once. I see people offering to help neighbors. Genuinely interested in how they’re doing and whether they need anything. I’ve had four neighbors offer to help me with anything I need. And I of course said it works both ways. People are being friendly, out walking the dog, saying hello, but keeping distance. They’re cheerful when someone speaks to them. It’s important. I’ve had safe distance conversations, and they’re worth more than gold ingots. What a good bunch of people we’re blessed to be around. But I don’t know how long they can take the fear and isolation. I worry about them. About you.