Shut it all down

Seriously, all of it

Not social distancing

Hello my COVID-babies, how are we all holding up? I personally feel like I’m going out of my mind, and am fueling myself with carbohydrates, wine, and extreme anxiety. And I don’t have kids or ailing relatives to take care of — I really don’t know how you caretakers are doing it. You are heroes to a one.

But here’s my question: Why are we still doing this?

I mean, we know that coronavirus continues to spread. We know it is highly contagious and much more deadly than the flu. We know that we have not tested nearly enough people, that we’ve given up on testing a sufficient number of people, that we do not have nearly enough ventilators, and that we have not taken the steps necessary to manufacture the number of ventilators we need. We can see the exact trajectory we are on. This is an emergency. We haven’t even gotten hit with a fraction of it yet. We are very, thoroughly screwed if we don’t act now (and let’s be honest: we are screwed already because we didn’t act yesterday).

We need to shut it all down.

A national lockdown is extreme. It will be economically devastating. But I’m not convinced it will be any more economically devastating than the current plan, which is a bunch of confusing half-measures that differ across state lines, a president who spouts dangerous lies every time he goes television, and a push to get people back to work by Easter — which is more or less a guarantee of many, many more infections. And deaths. And hospitals that are overrun. And economic devastation.

We need to shut it all down.

A national lockdown may be the only way to prevent millions of deaths and many more illnesses — and the potential life-shortening and life-altering complications that may persist even if you survive the initial infection. And so naturally the White House claims that the coronavirus task force hasn’t even discussed it.

In the meantime, people are still traveling. I walked by a park today and there were a bunch of kids playing on a jungle gym, a few feet from a sign saying that playground equipment wasn’t sanitized and posed a risk of spreading coronavirus. We’re all getting inconsistent and sometimes bad information (“kids don’t get it;” “you can only spread it if you’re symptomatic”). Huge numbers of Americans simply don’t follow these issues closely; they don’t watch the news, they think it’s all about “politics” and they tune out. We cannot trust the public — any public, but especially this public — to do the right thing, because we’re all being told a different story about what the “right” thing is. A CNN-viewing New-York-Times-reading high-information person in Brooklyn is hearing very different messages than a Fox-news-watching science-doubting person in Louisiana. This is a recipe for disaster. (You think we’re already in the disaster? Friend, we are not even close).

We need to shut it all down.

But we won’t. Because there are consequences to electing a soulless know-nothing narcissist who cares more about popularity and the economy than human life, his obligation to the public, or the country itself.

We’re going to regret not shutting it all down. So I hope that, at the very least, you are taking this seriously. I hope you are staying home and going for long walks outside, staying six feet away from others. I hope you aren’t making daily grocery runs or otherwise interacting with other human beings unless absolutely necessary. I hope you’re not traveling, or if you are, that you have self-quarantined for two weeks to ensure you’re not carrying the virus before you go, and that you quarantine again after you arrive. Our leaders are not stepping up. Most of the public is not stepping up. So it is on us to do our best to protect ourselves and each other. Make decisions that decrease your own risk of infection, but definitely make decisions that decrease the risk to others.

Stay healthy out there (and by “out there” I mean inside).

xx Jill