We’re not all in this equally

Not surprising for educated, informed people, my friends have opinions about reopening the economy. Mostly they, as do I, think that it’s too soon to ease up. But we do need to acknowledge that we’re privileged.

Seniors are the greatest beneficiaries of the lockdown, since coronavirus is deadlier for us than for younger age groups.

My retirement income hasn’t changed.

None of my nonretired friends has lost a job. They are among the white-collar professionals working in the safety of home now. When April’s job report came out last Friday, the unemployment rate for college graduates was relatively low, 8.4 percent, compared with the overall rate of 14.7 percent.

Contrast that with the rates for Latinos, 18.9 percent, and African Americans, 16.7 percent. African Americans and Latinos who haven’t lost their jobs make up a disproportionate share of those who are performing the “essential” jobs — such as grocery and drug store cashiers, transportation workers, and deliverers of food. They do not have the luxury of earning their pay in front of a home computer.

When asked how I am, I could answer, “Tired of this,” which would be honest, but the better answer would be “I’m grateful.”

Other than boredom, why wouldn’t retirees want to continue to be protected? I’d like to hear more from the people who aren’t as fortunate as I am. What goes through their minds when they hear “We’re all in this together”?

*****

WHY CAN’T WE TEST MORE?

Some commentators have argued that lives versus jobs is a false debate. We could save both if we do enough testing. Those who test positive should isolate themselves; everyone else can return to business as usual but should be retested periodically. Only the infected instead of the whole population would be shut down, so businesses could operate.

We’re not testing enough is the catchphrase from everyone but Donald Trump and his toadies. I understand why we can’t have a vaccine or effective treatments at the snap of our fingers, but what’s the deal with testing? The problems are mostly with supplies, it’s reported. How can the world’s greatest economy not produce and distribute enough test supplies? Other countries have done it.

I’ve read the explanations, including unpreparedness, botched starts, regulatory barriers, breakdowns in supply lines, shortages of money and staff. But these needn’t have existed if the federal government had developed a national plan and coordinated the implementation.

Prognosticators from all over the political spectrum say that testing is the buffer until we have a vaccine. Without testing, we either continue locking down and crippling the economy, or states open up and expose hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, to unnecessary sickness and death. The latter, unfortunately, is what many states are doing.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to say that massive testing isn’t needed. He’s covering up the shortage of tests and trying to cover up how many more people are infected — both of which would make him look bad.

*****

MOM FINALLY GETS RELIEF FROM ISOLATION

My mother’s first Mother’s Day as a widow looked to be sad and lonely. Like others in long-term-care centers across the country, she has been sequestered in her apartment in an assisted living community. She isn’t allowed visitors. Because she doesn’t have internet access, she hasn’t seen us via Zoom or FaceTime. We only communicate by phone.

The residence, American House–Cedarlake in Plainfield, has been preparing to permit residents to sit outside on warm days, with visitors allowed as long as they keep social distance. Mom was oblivious about the plans when a nurse came to her apartment last Wednesday, a sunny, mid-60-degrees day, and asked her to put on a sweater because they were going out.

Waiting outside the main entrance was my brother. Even though Rick lives only a half-mile away, it was the first time she had seen any of us for two months. We learned of his visit when he texted a photo of Mom standing outside with her walker and wearing a face mask. Rick went again late Saturday afternoon with his son. By that time chairs were out. Mom needed a warmer coat, but she was thrilled to sit and chat with Rick and Matt for more than a half-hour. She celebrated Mother’s Day about eight hours early.

Since it’s likely that long-term-care residences will be among the last facilities to reopen, we’re happy to have warm weather arriving so that we can visit Mom outdoors. My sister Nancy is even talking about making the three-hour drive from suburban Indianapolis, visiting for an hour, and driving three hours home. “I don’t have anything better to do on a weekend,” she said. “Why not?”

•••••

ANTI-TRUMP COMMENTS: 113TH IN AN ONGOING SERIES

“The [federal government’s] response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. . . . It has been an absolute chaotic disaster.”
— Barack Obama

Comments

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  • The lockdown plan has been a losing effort since it started, as almost 50% of deaths are -- and has been-- coming from nursing homes and other congregate settings.

    Testing should be done daily on the staff at these settings. It's a shotgun and a rifle approach. Testing everybody makes little sense now, but testing those who are critical to care does.

    By closing businesses with a one-size-fits-all approach, masses of people are losing their homes and savings and -- sometimes-- their lives -- to addiction and suicide and to non-C19 health concerns.

    There is no real empathy that I have found among those so-far not economically affected. Only detached bemusing. It is as if those who are privileged are turning the channel on a bad movie and insisting that everybody stay home for as long as it takes to protect the vulnerable when the plan put in place to protect them is faulty but sounds right because that is the movie they liked first.

  • I would not say that my friends, whom I count among the privileged, lack empathy.

  • very good article, sounds like a lot of us. thanks for posting.

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