COVID Update #6

COVID-19, while only getting worse after a brief trend toward improvement, has all but fallen to the background of the national dialogue in recent weeks. The murder of George Floyd by police offers a few weeks ago was a straw on the proverbial camel’s back, and led to a number of protests and marches, which police largely responded to with remarkable force. Trump has continued to stir up his base, today apparently tweeting a video in which a supporter shouted in support of white power. He has also continued to weaken the federal government, removing people fit to do their jobs and putting supporters with little experience in their place. It is shocking and pretty scary how unfit he is for the office and how little the other branches of the government have really done to try to rein him in. It is such a strange time, and I feel like I’m living in a satire or some sort of over-the-top dystopia. I feel pretty powerless. Mostly I am responding by donating money where I think it’ll help, but that feels pretty toothless.

Meanwhile, COVID cases and deaths continue to rise. Cases in Tennessee continue to climb as bars and other businesses open up. Texas and Florida have become hot spots. People have flocked to beaches for summer vacations. Nationally, the death rates have fallen some, but here’s a graph of a big recent uptick in cases (presumably deaths will follow):

That’s the graph since March, and we’ve got more daily cases than ever. The biggest hospital in Austin this week had all of its ICU beds full.

I see people wearing masks in public, but I see plenty who don’t, too. Plenty of folks have masks but have their noses exposed.

This is a big election year, and Republicans are limiting polling places. I read that in some places, single polling locations are now going to have to serve hundreds of thousands of people. Trump and his ilk have tried to prevent mail-in voting options. Democrats traditionally fare better at the polls when more voters show up, so this all makes sense but is very disturbing.

Meanwhile, Black people continue to be treated badly. Amid all the protests, after some of the gatherings had begun to dissipate, several Black people were found hanged, their deaths apparently ruled suicides. Police officers in Wilmington (near where I grew up) were recorded venting, using racial slurs and wishing (or even maybe plotting) violence toward African Americans. It feels like we’ve regressed 100 years. It’s shameful.

I worry a lot that Trump with Russian or other allies will steal the coming election and that our government and its checks and balances will further erode over the following four years. I worry that he’ll do more damage in the next few months in any case. Biden is the current Trump alternative, and he’s a milquetoast establishment candidate I have trouble getting excited about, though I’d take very nearly anybody with an ounce of intelligence and a rumor of integrity over Trump.

Gas is still cheap. You can get toilet paper if you go to the store at the right time, and when I last went, restrictions on how much meat you could buy had been lifted. So things feel a little more normal on the surface, but when you read the news, it’s clear that the new normal is anything but normal.

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