“There is no getting out of this until we have a vaccine. There is no getting out of this. This will be in our community until we have a vaccine, ...”
On July 23rd, Whatcom Health Director Erika Lautenbach made her most blunt and truest statement yet (see Herald article here). However, she did go on to say “...unless infection rates drop.” Really?
Although we thought we had a dial with which we could manipulate the conditions around this virus by simple turns, the virus has a mind of its own and gives not a rat’s ass about our machinations. So, our dial turns out more to be a toggle switch, perhaps a three-position switch, but nowhere near the elusive and now manifestly imaginary dial. Given the ignorance, belligerence, stupidity, insouciance, forgetfulness, deliberateness, incapacity, denial, carelessness and mindlessness of human beings, we are stuck in position number two of the toggle switch. We seem unable to convince ourselves to revert to position one to shut down, and unable to move to position three to open further. A vaccine, which is still a year or more away, may allow us eventually to go to number three. Although we might find it abhorrent to return to position one, that may nevertheless be forced on us, as comes a tidal wave: first a comforting ebbing of the virus, followed by the crushing wave of a viral tsunami.
In Europe, where they thought they had the virus under some sort of control, there are troubling signs that there was no dial either. Belgium is on the verge of a total lock-down, while France and Spain are getting mighty nervous. Catalonia may have to shut down, and France, whose population has scattered to their in-country vacation spots, sees hot-spots popping up like a game of Whack-a-Mole. France and Spain also had some of the most stringent shutdowns countrywide, including heavy fines, but now are seeing all those gains fading like a bad paint job. (Europe braces for second wave of coronavirus)
At least most of the European countries had a modicum of national-level leadership. Here we had bupkis, and it is showing state by state as many governors deny reality and (For what is it, if not murder?) with mis-feasance, mal-feasance and non-feasance, making a mockery of their oaths of office. Continuing travel among the states will ensure a non-stop re-seeding of the virus in all corners of the country. Attempts by individual states and the District of Columbia to control travelers coming into their territories is a risible effort when the travelers MUST, under pain of whatever, self-quarantine for two weeks before beginning the activities they came to do, be that tourism or business. Now that is a workable plan, eh?
In Whatcom County, we are still spinning the imaginary virus control dial to get around, work with, or ignore the virus, all while the talk about on-campus K-12 (here and here) school and university openings continues. Frankly, what you see now is going to be pretty much what we will see in the coming months. Anything north of our governor’s Phase 2 for Whatcom County is a pipe dream. Remaining in Phase 2 might eventually prove very problematic. But if you are among those not paying attention to the rules anyhow, who cares? Party hardy.
If we do get an effective and safe vaccine, the anti-vaxxers will rise up to thwart the vaccination process bringing with them a purposefully acquired ignorance and boundless energy to sow that ignorance and its resulting discord among our citizens. I mean, we can’t even get people to keep their masks on.
So we return to the quote at the top of this article, “...no getting out of this.” No normal. It will be a bleak winter.