Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coronavirus Becomes Real

I remember that when I first heard about the coronavirus, I was vaguely distressed and irritated that yet another disease had arisen in China and started to spread. But I believed and hoped it wouldn't impact my life all that much. 

Now, just a few months later I've seen my governor place the entire state under a lockdown that seems unlikely to end anytime soon. 

The governor also closed the schools. Coronavirus has grown to at least a million cases worldwide and over 50,000 deaths.

Two relatives have tested positive for Coronavirus. Who knows what the future holds for either of them. I have good friends and very close relatives who are in the American pandemic epicenter, NYC. How much longer will they stay safe? My home town, Detroit, is looking as if it will catch up to NYC soon. Bus drivers are getting infected and dying. Friends of friends are getting sick and dying.

People who attended my high school have died from coronavirus. I am reduced to hoping that either I already had coronavirus  (I had an extended nasty bout of what I thought was flu in February) or that as with some bugs that the spring's increasing heat and humidity will slow transmission. When I go out now I am always wearing gloves and/or a mask.

Far from being a temporary inconvenience this coronavirus is killing the economy. I am fortunate to still have a job. Many people weren't as lucky. They took massive pay cuts or immediately lost their jobs. 

The impact of the economic shutdown in the U.S. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was shown accelerating Thursday when the latest tally of Americans applying for unemployment benefits spiked to 6.648 million, more than doubling last week’s all-time high. The latest weekly number dwarfs, by far, the largest halt to employment seen during the 2008 financial crisis, which never topped 700,000.

Some business owners or employees can't work from home. They earn less and put themselves at higher risk for infection.

Presumably this pandemic will end sooner or later. 

But I think things will take a while to get back to "normal" if indeed they ever do. And I may need to, willingly or not, find other employment before that. 

If no one can buy what your company makes, your company will get rid of employees.

Life is not fair as any wise adult will tell you. Bad things happen to people all the time. Still, this pandemic should make the US rethink the level of engagement that it has with China. Something's wrong when the US has shortages of critical items but China does not. 

The US economy should not be vulnerable to shut down because of over-reliance on Chinese based supply chains. Maybe, just maybe 85% of global medical mask production should not be in China. 

US citizens should not have to become sick and die because some Chinese think that dangerous wildlife consumption and lack of food market hygiene are acceptable practices. When I purchase groceries I shouldn't have to worry that this is the day I get infected because someone on the other side of the planet believes that pangolins and/or bats are tasty.

People who are generally on my side of the political spectrum are loath to criticize cultural practices by non-white nations. I get that. It is easy to fall into racism or bigotry when we do that. But facts are facts. 

Wet markets are a very bad idea. The Chinese habit of eating almost anything has negative repercussions that impact the entire planet. With globalization, a faulty practice in one area can hurt millions of other people. 

I expect that with many nations closing borders, limiting export of medical equipment, or limiting travel by foreign nationals, that the seeming inevitable march of globalization will be halted or at the very least slowed. And that's a good thing. Countries don't need to share everything.

It's just like the 2008 financial crash. Some separation and redundancy in systems is a good thing. Separation acts as a circuit breaker when things go wrong. The US needs to start moving some critical manufacturing and medical supply chains back within US borders.

My income, health, life and those of my loved ones are at risk because of stupid f***** decisions by some Chinese citizens and government officials. I am angry about that.  

As China reportedly reopens some wet markets, I also think it's ok to demand that US politicians from the President to the local dogcatcher answer for their own stupid decisions that have worsened this pandemic. They must tell us how they plan to fix this and ensure it doesn't happen again. 

We must force doctors and medical personnel to take complaints seriously from everyone. Ancedotally it seems that too often Black patients don't get all the care they need because doctors believe their pain is tolerable or their symptoms are exaggerated. That sort of quiet polite racism kills.

We must redefine, reimagine, limit, and control globalization. 
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