So as I'm sure you all have heard, America is racing towards opening everything back up. As a resident of South Carolina I am simultaneously relieved that we aren't first in line to jump off the bridge but horrified that we are so close to the front of the line. But it may surprise you to hear that I'm actually a bit sympathetic.
Reopening is an inevitable part of this. Only a moron actually believed that we were going to cower inside of our houses for the rest of our lives in an effort to avoid getting infected. However what most of us seem to be missing is that the purpose of closing everything down was to bolster our infrastructure and services so that we could better manage the inevitable spike that would result. Let's be clear on what that actually means though:
Increase Testing Capacity and Quality
While capacity has expanded somewhat (200k - 310k tests a day up from 100k to 170k), it is still lacking. In addition, the quality of these tests is questionable at best as false negatives are still quite prevalent. In addition even though the federal government should be leading the charge here, they appear to have largely abdicated their responsibilities.
Supply States and Hospitals Appropriately
In the beginning the federal government actually showed an interest in supplying hospitals with PPE and Ventilators. However they now have not only abdicated their responsibility here, but gone so far as to illegally seize shipments of supplies ordered by hospitals and individual states. I honestly have no idea what the hell Jared Kushner and Donald Trump think they are accomplishing here, but it should scare the living shit out of everybody.
Implement Adequate Contact Tracing Capabilities
We need to have an army of capable people or mandatory smart phone apps which provide contact tracing capabilities to the authorities in charge of managing the spread of the infection. We don't really have any of these things at the moment.
Educate the Populace on Risk Mitigation Methods
To some extent, we have actually done this. But I'm not sure we have done it particularly well. Social Distancing and Face Masks never really seemed to resonate with people, at least not here in South Carolina.
The point of the shutdown wasn't to outlast the virus but to buy us some time so that we could make the preparations necessary to combat it in a competent manner. However it has become clear that we have squandered this time as we've haven't really done that.
Let me be really clear here: Reopening the economy was always unavoidable and was going to be risky and result in more lives being lost, regardless of what preparations we took. However more lives will be lost because both the federal government and many individual states have failed to take this seriously and/or prepare appropriately.
We are all social creatures (except maybe the Unabomber). Even hermits like myself, yearn for human interaction on some level. That having been said, because my wife and I are both capable and lucky enough to be able to, we will be continuing our quarantine for the foreseeable future. Annette has a compromised immune system due to her ulcerative colitis treatment. I have a very rocky history with respiratory illness. Neither one of us is safe in the midst of all this.
To those of you either ignorant of the risk or economically compelled to ignore it, you have my sympathy. Many more of your lives will be lost because the institutions we depend on have failed to live up to their end of the bargain in this situation. Those of you who voted these overtly incompetent morons into power, only have yourselves to blame. The rest of us will have to find solace in that horrifying fact.
Regardless of who voted for whom, you all will be rolling the dice with your lives on the line and I wish you all the best of luck.