Well, what can I say? This morning, the New York Times morning briefing included this little tidbit:
Arizona is #1, Bahrain is #4
There is no country in the world where confirmed coronavirus cases are growing as rapidly as they are in Arizona, Florida or South Carolina. The Sun Belt has become the global virus capital.
This chart ranks the countries with the most confirmed new cases over the past week, adjusted for population size, and treats each U.S. state as if it were a country. (Many states are larger in both landmass and population than some countries.)
The only countries with outbreaks as severe as those across the Sunbelt are Bahrain, Oman and Qatar — three Middle Eastern countries with large numbers of low-wage migrant workers who are not citizens. These workers often live in cramped quarters, with subpar social services, and many have contracted the virus.
They “have found themselves locked down in cramped, unsanitary dorms, deprived of income and unable to return home because of travel restrictions,” The Time’s Beirut bureau chief, Ben Hubbard, has written.
Other countries on the list — like Panama, Kazakhstan and Armenia — are substantially poorer than the U.S.
A week ago, Andrea and I went to a business meeting downtown. It was wonderful to be out, and it was wonderful to see the two men we met with — one of whom I hadn’t seen in months. I always enjoy them, but it became evident to me how subdued and depressed I have become. This isolation has taken a lot of my liveliness.
Then we went to our favorite food co-op. We hadn’t been there since March. They are doing what they can, with arrows on the floors to make the aisles one way and sneeze guards protecting the cashiers. Everyone was wearing a mask. We felt pretty good there but haven’t been back.
I read that one’s political affiliation is a big indicator whether you will wear a mask. How did we get there, with politics over health concerns? (Look again at the chart above.)
The Administration is pushing to re-open the schools in the fall. I read somewhere that one-third of working households have children that are school-age or younger. We can’t get everyone back to work if there is no child-care or schools in which to store the kids while the parents are at work. But of course there is no direction or support for the schools on how to re-open safely. Did an Administration official say we just need to live with the virus or did I dream that?
We had a nice Independence Day, though. Andrea’s brother lives in a neighborhood with lots of kids. We went over to his house and sat on the front lawn with our masks on to watch the kids set off fireworks in the street.
And we remain healthy. Actually, what with staying inside a lot and wearing a mask when I go out, I haven’t gotten any colds or other ailments. I’ve gone through periods of depression, but what with the virus and the failure of government and the police clubbing people protesting police violence and the kids in cages and the wildfires in the Arctic and the rest of it I think a few periods of depression are understandable. I went for my second Covid haircut being very careful. My hairdresser talked about how we are all going through a trauma but we can’t process it because it’s not over yet.
Despite it all, there is hope. There is more awareness of the systemic problems in the country. There is pressure on the enablers. More people are speaking out. More of us have been shaken out of our complacency. Much as we treasure our independence, more and more of us see how interconnected we are.
Stay safe. Be kind to yourself. We’ll get through this if the ignorance and incompetence and corruption don’t manage to kill us all off.