What a difference a week makes.
Last Tuesday, I couldn’t get enough of giggling at memes. “If you drank Boone’s Farm as a teenager, you’ll survive Coronavirus” or “If you’ve been here [over a picture of Gravine Island], you’ll survive Coronavirus.”
This “crisis” didn’t seem real. People were still focused on Bernie and Biden and Tubby and Sessions. Even Hightower and Carl.
There was no hint school would be canceled. No one was buying up every roll of toilet paper and bottle of hand sanitizer in sight. Restaurants and bars were still full. People were making plans for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.
But all of that started changing on Friday. And what a sea change it has been.
As I sit here writing this on St. Patrick’s Day, with Callaghan’s closed (Callaghan’s!!!), I am terrified.
I am still unsure just how bad this pandemic is going to be from a public health perspective. I saw someone who tested positive interviewed on cable news and he described it as a “medium flu” that kept him down for about three days, but that was about it. Sure, he was healthy and others don’t or won’t fare as well as he did. But I am not sure just how many lives will be lost because of COVID-19.
What I am sure of is how many lives will be damaged or destroyed as our economy collapses because of this. And we are on the brink of it.
There are not many businesses that can survive two to three months with a rapid decline in revenue or a complete shutdown. Perhaps if this disaster was confined to a small geographical area, like one hit by a hurricane, you could see where the government could step in and make everyone whole again. But every business in every city in every state in the entire country? The equivalent to a nationwide Cat 5! How is that going to work?
Even if the SBA starts offering loans in a week or two, as they have talked about, they are not going to be able to administer them fast enough to save most of these businesses. I just don’t see how they possibly could. Bureaucracy isn’t exactly known for its expeditiousness.
If things don’t turn around as quickly as they have in the last week, people are going to lose their jobs and/or the businesses they have worked to build for years or even decades. Just like that — gone. Poof!
In another week, we are going to have thousands and thousands of service industry workers without a job. It’s already happening, but it is going to get much worse! Many of these people don’t live paycheck to paycheck, but shift to shift. We have many of these fine folks right here in Mobile and Baldwin. How are they going to make it? How are any of us going to make it?
Because it’s going to be that way in every sector if this drags on through “July or August,” as President Trump said yesterday.
Sen. Mitt Romney has proposed sending everyone a $1,000 check and the White House says it may be even bigger and come in the next couple of weeks, but that’s going to be like putting a Band-Aid on a cut jugular. We need to find ways to keep the doors of businesses open first and foremost.
I really, really, really don’t understand why we didn’t strictly quarantine the most vulnerable, creating services for them to receive the best healthcare and supplies in the comfort of their own homes, while keeping everything else up and running for the vast majority of people, who even if they get this will not die from it. I am certainly not an expert in infectious disease, but it just sounds like that would have been a much better idea than blowing up the entire economy. How many people are going to die from complications or as an indirect result of losing their jobs or employer-related healthcare? Could it end up being more than from the virus itself?
But I guess it’s too late to turn back time. Or is it? I don’t know the answer to that. In a few weeks or a month, could the pendulum swing back in the other direction and could things start to get back to normal? Could our economy survive that? Maybe.
The uncertainty is what is so unsettling.
These are very scary and very stressful times for all of us. (The homeschooling alone is enough to drive most of us over the edge.)
Like many of you, I am just trying to take it day by day and keep a good sense of humor about this dire situation.
Like, does anyone else find it interesting that hamburger meat seems to be the official disaster/quarantine meat of choice? Lots of spaghetti suppers going on around here, I guess. It’s almost as hard to find as bread and toilet paper.
Speaking of toilet paper, I also find it interesting that while there is never any of it in the store, there are plenty of boxes of Kleenex sitting right by the empty TP shelves. It will do in a pinch, people! Trust me!
And with the limited selections of the things in the store, I told my husband it was like we were living in a “Top Chef” quickfire challenge. “See what you can whip up with two cans of tuna, extra-spicy Italian meatballs and a bag of Northern beans, honey! You have 30 minutes, starting … right now!” We were always complaining we couldn’t get out of our comfort zone with our nightly meal preparation, at least corona has helped us with that. Maybe the kids will even eat something other than chicken fingers and mac and cheese. “Sorry guys, they were all out of the Kraft mac and cheese today! (They weren’t.) How about some broccoli?” Silver linings!
Everyone keeps saying, “This is going to get much worse before it gets better.” I am still hoping against hope they are wrong. And in a week or two, we are all going to say, “Man, we really dodged a bullet there.”
But whatever the case, during these crazy, scary and uncertain times, let’s try to take care of each other the best we can. If there is one thing I know about Mobilians, we are pretty damn good at that.
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