OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez
Another glowing sulfur sunrise where you can’t see the Sun, but you can feel it coming. Inland, it will reach 120° somewhere. Here on the Mid-Coast of the S.F. Bay Area, it’s another day where we can’t tell the smoke from the fog, but we feel the difference in our lungs, even indoors. At 9:30am it is now darker than it was two hours before. The atmosphere looks like we’re Frodo and Sam on their trek to Mount Doom – the air oppresses, foreboding worse to come.
Images: most will enlarge for improved readability in a new window when you click on them.
We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.
– Ayn Rand
Yet this is a mission of our own making, not one forced upon us by fate or an evil superpower. Actions you take have consequences, and sometimes they boomerang right back on you. But, if you adjust your attitude just a little, this is a Year Worth Surviving – one we’ll tell the grandkids about. While apart more than ever before, we are still all in this together until the journey ends.
Pandemic, Wildfires, Hurricanes, Heat Waves, Impeachment, Shootings and Protests in the streets, the most consequential Presidential Election since Lincoln in 1860 – it feels so much is out of our immediate control: yet our 200 years of fossil fuel pollution has brought us here, and there are things we can do in both the short and long term to solve those problems. Let’s begin with the tiniest of our problems: the Virus.
You’ve heard and seen the people who choose to exercise their ‘Freedom’, rather than their Personal Responsibility, and not wear masks, not avoid crowded indoor gatherings. The Virus loves those people. Those maskless people often stress amendments to the Constitution, like freedom of assembly and the right to bear arms, while avoiding the core of the same document: “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare…”. And they ignore two things:
People usually understand the need for personal responsibility in driving sober, wearing a seatbelt, and using a condom. Yet, even with over 70 studies – and just as many nations – demonstrating conclusively that wearing masks is a key element of suppressing CV-19, there are still people choosing to prolong the epidemic by not wearing masks and ignoring Science. Some of them are paying with their health… or their lives, like former presidential candidate and Trump supporter Herman Cain:
— Truth to Power (@SupermansWifeF1) August 31, 2020
On top of this mountain of scientific evidence on the need for masks, there were also very public anecdotes illustrating the dangers of congregating without mask: such as Trump’s Tulsa rally, which spurred an outbreak of COVID in Oklahoma and caused Cain’s death. And now we can observe the logical consequence of the maskless motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota – 250,000 new cases of the virus – in just the first wave of re-contamination. While that may seem astounding, consider that at Sturgis “the seven-day total for the rally from Aug. 7 was 365,979 people.” Thus, the number of cases created as the virus went home with them was about two-thirds of the attendees. With improvements in CV-19 medical care learned from hard experiences in other states, the U.S. case fatality rate is down to 3%. Which means about 2,500 people will die as a result of the Sturgis rally, and a multiple of that will be hospitalized and/or suffer severe illness with long term health complications.
And it’s not just Trump rally attendees and Secret Service agents being infected. Today we have the report that shipping ICE detainees to Virginia, in order to allow Trump to import ICE agents for crowd control of the D.C. protests, resulted in a CV-19 outbreak in Farmville, Virginia. Actions cause reactions.
It’s clear that Leadership Matters… the presence or absence of it has made a tremendously Deadly Difference. In NYC, where the Gov and Mayor were slow to shut the bars, we saw the worst outbreaks in the Country, but then we also witnessed them owning the problem, and learning as a society how to combat and treat the disease – learning costly and painful lessons about CV-19 treatment that have reduced the death rate for the rest of us. A similar scenario played out in the UK, where the Prime Minister denied the importance of the disease, until he caught it, and then launched a massive testing effort which has largely controlled the virus since May.
And here in the U.S. we have seen just the opposite: Governors who denied the risks of the virus, who thought they could have a full economy without addressing the Pandemic. NY and NJ were hit with massive waves of the virus, which they have since suppressed with concerted leadership. But now, the worst seven (7) states in the U.S. are those run by Republican Governors who put an irresponsible ideology above Science, kept states too open, and denied rational public health precautions in spite of pleas from the mayors of their largest cities. Those states have now surpassed the NY/NJ case counts.
Yet there is much we can do, have we the will. First, we can Vote. Vote for a change of leadership to one which is competent to manage our affairs, both nationally and locally. Second, call out the propaganda for the lie that it is. The Russians are behind some of the racial conflict here (as was documented after the 2016 election), and are supporting the anti-vaccination movement and the Q-anon conspiracy theory. For now, we can only address propaganda and lies interpersonally. With a new federal administration, we can hope to return to an environment where News is based on responsible and balanced journalism, and where people can tell Fact from Fiction.
And we can take personal responsibility for suppressing the virus, allowing us to rebuild our country and our economy. Wear a mask; social distance; demand rapid response testing. Right now, the epidemiological experts don’t think we can achieve that level of responsibility. Here’s the latest forecast from the overly conservative group the White House prefers to get its numbers from, the IHME. [chart at left] They’re forecasting over 410,000 CV-19 deaths by year end, with worse or better outcomes depending upon our leadership and national willpower.
I say we CAN regain our society. We CAN drop the ring into Mount Doom. And we CAN live to tell our desendants that we survived 2020. As the old Chinese saying goes:
“May you live in interesting times.”
We certainly are, so what are we going to do about them? It will take collective social responsibility to overcome first, COVID-19, and then the Climate Crisis. Here’s to seeing the sunrise once again dawn clear in the East…
Mr. Dieguez is a semi-successful, semi-retired MIT entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside, and is now a candidate for the MCC. He lives in Montara. He loves to respond to comments.