A Much Older, Deeper Patchwork
May 20, 2020 8:15 AM   Subscribe

What’s happening is not one crisis, but many interconnected ones. As we shall see, it will be harder to come to terms with such a crisis. It will be harder to bring it to heel. And it will be harder to grapple with the historical legacies that have shaped today’s patchwork. America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further by Ed Yong in The Atlantic
posted by chavenet (13 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
posted by sixswitch at 8:44 AM on May 20, 2020 [7 favorites]

Related: Farhad Manjoo, "The Worst Is Yet to Come" -
The coronavirus and our disastrous national response to it has smashed optimists like me in the head.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:00 AM on May 20, 2020 [6 favorites]

It's weird. Montana is trying very hard to Get Back To Normal, and most folks feel fine in doing so because we were never hit particularly hard -- pretty much everything will be open as of June 1. But. Our entire economy runs on summer tourism. My buddy who is a fishing guide is torn between trying to fill his summer back up with bookings (everyone cancelled in March) to stay in business vs. not encouraging anyone from out of state to visit. So I'm sure we'll big old wave once we start getting tourists.

It is also weird to be on social media and have friends I "see" every day living under much different conditions than I. Like, I've been able to leave my house and go outside every day. I went to the grocery store today and like...one person was in a mask. (!!!) Whole families were shopping together. (!!??!) I'm back at work. My restaurant can begin seating at 75% capacity in June. And I'm watching like instagram stories of friends still isolating in their little apartments.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:58 AM on May 20, 2020 [8 favorites]

America is very close to becoming the #1 nation with cases per capita. We long passed Italy, we'll pass Spain and Belgium soon. We're already well ahead in active cases per capita.

America is failing this epidemic. This magnitude of loss was preventable. We're not taking any prevention measures now. This is almost entirely because of the failure of our federal government and its anti-science leadership.

So we have the patchwork. I am grateful to live in California, where at least we're sort of making rational decisions. We're also starting to reopen with no real plan or resources to contain the virus. We've said we're going to do testing and contact tracing but it's not deployed yet. Meanwhile, we have one of the highest number of cases in the country.
posted by Nelson at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2020 [12 favorites]

Starting to think that the regular pessimism of The Atlantic and other centrist mags is "working as designed," just like the bourgeois government of the U.S. It's not "broken." It's working as its masters want it to.

Something to work for with your coworkers and communities: How about wage and food security, guaranteed health care for all, and workers' control of essential businesses, for starters? Check out the US IMT's program to get us through this crisis.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 12:56 PM on May 20, 2020 [5 favorites]

We've got a patchwork everything. It's amazing when we get anything done as a nation.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2020 [11 favorites]

OH COOL my hometown and my former hometown are both on Forbe's list of "America's 20 Best Places to Travel During Coronavirus."
posted by Grandysaur at 10:26 PM on May 20, 2020 [8 favorites]

And I'm watching like instagram stories of friends still isolating in their little apartments.

Because it's still not safe. Nowhere near it. And we don't have the infrastructure set up in place to be able to even do a passable job of making things safer.

Right now I'm wholly confident that we'll see a resurgence in June. If we don't I'll be pleasantly relieved but I'm not hopeful. Even coastal urban bastions of liberal thought are going through with reopenings without going through the admittedly Herculean task of universal testing and contact tracing. SK opened up and when they got even single digit cases again they test tens of thousands of people and isolate them quickly. My current state of Massachusetts had over a THOUSAND positive tests yesterday. In a state of nearly seven million we've done less than half a million tests total. We've plateaued and we're on the downward curve but we haven't nearly come close to containment required to safely reopen. Not to mention Baker's mask order has basically legitimized the "neener neener you can't make me wear a mask" ADA bad law take "loophole".

The worst part is that the people who can least afford to be put in danger are being put in the most danger. There are essential workers out there, a lot of them the lowest paid members of society, who have no choice but to be exposed. Our grocery workers, our manufacturing service employees, our municipal employees, our supply chain workers, our emergency services and healthcare workers. It's wholly irresponsible and an insult to those that we've lionized over the past 8 weeks that we're heading back out as a society and putting them in more danger all over again.

I think I saw it best on Twitter:
When the right talk about “going back to normal”, they mean low-paid workers going back to service jobs where they can’t social distance and middle class people continuing to work from home but with an expanded range of leisure activities.
I can't show solidarity by putting myself in danger with them because it'll bring the whole of what we call a healthcare system to its knees again, and I can't force other people to stay home (at least not legally), but I sure as hell can not succumb to the siren's call of going out back into society and putting those very people in more danger. Our household will continue to isolate itself, tip everyone who delivers here (those who allow us to stay home and do what little part we can) with great generosity. We will do all that we can to both respect the danger these essential workers are putting themselves in for the greater good along with trying to repay the unpayable debt that we've incurred in them doing so.

Even if you haven't been hit hard, slipping now can just mean losing your gift of not being hit. Until this virus is solidly defeated even one super spreading event can cause a massive wildfire of infection and going out is rolling the dice over and over. All the measures we're taking with social distancing and masks and what not just means the chances of rolling craps is reduced not eliminated. If tourists are coming in to these areas along with refugees trying to escape urban infection zones it just takes one of them to bring COVID-19 with them, they don't wear a mask, and then the shit hits the fan. On top of that, a more rural, dispersed state like Montana is not equipped nearly as well as states with all of their population centers in close proximity to large ICU bed reserves.

If you can, still stay home.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:23 AM on May 21, 2020 [19 favorites]

In some cases, the federal government has actively undermined the states. Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, tried to buy protective equipment, but was thrice outbid by the federal government; he ended up using the New England Patriots’ jet to fly 1.2 million masks over from China, many of which turned out to be faulty.

Massachusetts was able to successfully place an order of 3 million masks, but they were confiscated upon arrival in the US by (presumably) the federal government. It's my understanding that the supplier canceled the state contract in favor of the more lucrative federal contract while the masks were being shipped, so I guess "outbid" is still kind of accurate, but it's a bit misleading. This seems to be what necessitated the scramble for dubious masks and the use of a private aircraft to keep the cargo within the state's control as much as possible.

Other local news of active undermining: the feds took advantage of the pandemic to announce that the Wampanoag's reservation will be 'disestablished'. A legacy of patchworks indeed.
posted by soy bean at 6:02 AM on May 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

The problem is that with federal orders countermanding the states is that FEMA is only playing courier to the private sector and those private sector distributors aren't required to sell to hospitals exclusively, only within counties that are hot spots determined by an opaque process and vulnerable to executive whims. Florida gets 200% of its allocation for DeSantis toeing the Trump line, NY gets jack shit.

Normally, in a sane country, you would expect FEMA to take on board all of the supply requests, secure the supply, and distribute to healthcare providers directly. Instead they're trying to run government like a fucking business.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:53 AM on May 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

I rather take exception to this "trying to run government like a business" line. My employer is, well, a business - the moment there was the slightest sniff of this on the horizon they consulted with experts, realized that there would be no business left worth having if their employees started dying, put together a phased plan to get as many people WFH as possible and staggering/spacing the rest, and implemented it. All sorts of businesses from megacorps to the people who make and sell stuff on etsy have realised that there are things they need to do, and done them, because killing off clients or workers is just an incredibly bad idea on all sorts of levels. Putting together some sort of syndicate to get equipment distributed the right way is far from beyond the capability of even mere capitalism.

This is nothing to do with business. They're trying to run government like a scam.
posted by doop at 8:23 AM on May 21, 2020 [17 favorites]

North Dakota's GOP governor chokes up as he delivers a tearful, emotional plea: stop politicizing the wearing of masks [Twitter video]:

“I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding. If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support. They might be doing it because they have a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life.”
posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on May 23, 2020 [11 favorites]

If only this would be our generation's "Have You Left No Sense of Decency?" moment.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:35 AM on May 23, 2020 [5 favorites]

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