Thursday, April 16, 2020

Thinking Too Many Thoughts ....

When I need to get something off my mind, I write. Buckle up, gentle readers.

The risks of restarting the economy in the middle of an epidemic are real. We can't just tell our at-risk people, We're going back to normal, you guys are on your own. But I don't see "the economy" as some monolithic conglomerate of rich guys in penthouses far above the fray. The economy is us.
It's everybody trying to pay the rent, the mortgage, their electric bill and propane. It's car payments and health insurance, doctor bills and vet bills, automobile repairs and the refrigerator just quit working. It's buying groceries and pet food, paying the horseshoer and buying hay and that emergency dental appointment. It's every person out there trying to apply for unemployment and it's those who, for varieties of reasons, don't qualify.

The people who provide those missing jobs are also the economy. They pay leases or mortgages, utilities and insurance, permits and licensing, loans and payments, purchase equipment and supplies, and some of them are trying to cover payroll for absent employees.

Not everyone is able to embrace staying at home as a time to get cozy and creative. When people run out of money, people go hungry and homeless.

There is an argument that says the at-risk people could just self isolate, while everybody else goes on about their lives. After all, 80% of the population won't even show symptoms, or if they do, it will be mild to moderate. Right? Some even say what we really need is some good old-fashioned herd immunity.

Well, let's look at that. First, an estimated 100 million people are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Another 100 million are estimated to have high blood pressure. Some 23 million have autoimmune diseases and @ 25 million have asthma. Studies say about 121 million, nearly half of adult Americans, have some form of heart disease. And chronic kidney disease and liver disease each account for a total of 117 million people. Even presuming half of these numbers can be condensed into people with more than one condition, this is a lot of folks.

The at-risk population is not limited to old retired farts. People with underlying conditions are part of the workforce. They hold jobs, they provide services, they own businesses and they raise families. They are your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends and your family members. They are you.

We have seen time and again, this virus loves groups of people. Whether it's a wedding, a choir practice, a meat packing plant or an aircraft carrier, it thrives in close quarters situations. This virus doesn't have to sicken all of us. It just has to sicken enough of us. Then businesses and institutions will shut down again.

I guess what I'm really saying is, whoever you are and whatever your perspective is on this thing, do what you have to do, as well as you can do it, but don't look for easy fixes. There aren't any. When South Dakota has 1100 diagnoses of Coronavirus and 518 of them work at the same plant, there's a problem. And when 10 million Americans are newly out of work, there's a problem.

Unfortunately, I don't have any witty suggestions for what to do about it. I don't envy anyone, at any level, tasked with trying to figure it out. We just have to remember that we really are in this together. Let's not beat each other up, when all anybody really wants is to get back to some kind of normal.

Peace, love and unicorns and remember to wash your hands.

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