This blog represents the views of the author alone and not the newspaper.
I know, I know, coming from someone like me; it sounds hypocritical. I’m still a political junkie and I plead guilty for adding to the divisiveness but I wish we could apply something I learned at my former workplace. We had a multi day plant-wide seminar at the Victoria Holiday Inn to discuss a new work environment. Supervisors and the rank and file were told to leave their titles at the door.
I think at the local level we are leaving our politics at the door as we navigate reopening. I am basing my opinion on what I read in the Victoria Advocate and see and hear on their online public forums. I am sheltering in place, except for a rare essential trip, so that is all I have to go on. I no longer have the contacts at the breakfast club where I can hear it from the horse’s mouth or hear the varying opinions.
COVID-19 is going to be with us for the unforeseeable future and no one president, political party, or single country is going to come up with a solution to manage this crisis. It’s a global pandemic. As New York Times columnists and author Tom Friedman said, “the most powerful force on earth is Mother Nature and the second most powerful force is Father Greed.” He has also said that this is no time to punish China or to withdraw from them. China is a haven for viruses, probable because stressed-out wild animals, bunched up, are a host for multiple viruses and their wet markets spread the disease to humans. There will be plenty of time for the blame game and penalties but right now we need their scientists and findings to learn more about this virus. We will also need to borrow more money from them.
Now that Anthony Fauci has put himself in a modified self-quarantine, a new hero has arrived for me. That person is Michael Osterholm, director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Political pundits have tried to bait him into getting into the political fray but he consistently says that he follows the science and data. This weekend, he said that we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves with the testing numbers or our rankings because we will never be able to test everyone nor should that be our focus right now. He explained it by acknowledging that we are doing everything possible to make the testing possible but we must look at it as if a car was operated at 100 mph for 24/7. It’s going to break down because it was not meant to handle that. The emphasis should be on the sick, elderly, nursing homes, healthcare workers, first responders, and people showing symptoms right now; until we find a vaccine or some other remedy to slow down the spread. Unless 70% of the population gets tested, a serious stopping of the spread of the virus is not going to happen. He said we should continue wearing of masks, social distancing, and hand-washing until we get adequate testing and tracing in place. And BTW, serious tracing is going to take hundreds of thousands of employees to implement and it steps on the toes of some privacy concerns.
A lot of people are incorrectly dismissing the accuracy of scientific models. The initial models were correct because they couldn’t possibly factor in the self-quarantine Californians imposed on themselves. Software pinged cell activity and aircraft saw the usual highway congestion disappear. This resulted in a decrease in COVID-19 cases showing up at hospitals. Now, California is testing everyone for free, so of course, their numbers are going up but they are also implementing a tracing system. They did all this before their gradual reopening. Not every state can or needs to do that. It’s all about demographics.
As I stated in my previous blog, reopening has been a political issue but it shouldn’t be. No reasonable person thinks we can remain shut down for several more months or until every working person gets tested. Our economy is not built that way. We have all heard that word “balance.” Yes, the essential and non-essential business is a legitimate concern but so is a safe reopening. I am glad I don’t have to make that decision. I don’t think empty hospital beds are a good barometer because they can be overwhelmed in a hurry. In the military, we were always told: “watch your flank.” Just a few months ago, we were convinced that children were immune to COVID-19 but recently three children in New York were infected with a pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome which is potentially associated with COVID-19. Not so fast with the school openings.
Politics is about winners and losers at a given moment but science is about inquiring and testing data for a final conclusion. That’s the way I see it.
“Every solution of a problem raises new unsolved problems” …. Karl Popper