We’re two months into this hellish nightmare of a pandemic and we still don’t have what we need to slow it or stop it.
In the process, we’ve turned into some terrible rewrite of the “Lord of the Flies” in which we’re fighting our fellow Americans to stay alive, begging for the largess of our leaders and ready to roll a boulder onto the next state that tries to buy the gowns or masks or ventilators we need desperately.
Unlike Ralph and Jack and Piggy, we’re not trying to kill the beast. We’re locked in a bitter battle with the coronavirus.
We’re not prepared for it. We don’t have the equipment we need.
The anti-tax mania that has gripped about half of this nation for the last 50 years has left us vulnerable and without the national stockpile of gowns, masks, eye shields and ventilators we need to survive this.
“Go buy it yourself,” is the what President Trump told governors recently when they asked him to use the power of the federal government to scoop up supplies and then divvy them out to states.
It’s now left us fighting for the scraps while the free market raises prices and subject to the laws of the jungle where the biggest, meanest bully with the most money gets his way.
As a small, poor state, we’re never going to win in that scenario.
Gov. Andy Beshear said on Tuesday that we had identified protective gear recently and were in the process of buying it when the Federal Emergency Management Agency swooped in and bought it out from under us.
Our own federal government.
Great. Trump tells the states that it’s up to them to find and buy this equipment and then comes in and bigfoots us all to take the gear we have identified for ourselves.
Trump said recently that the federal government is simply “backup” for the states in this fight against a global pandemic.
But as the backup for the states, Trump and the federal government have failed.
We had more than 100 deaths in the United States on Sunday. On Tuesday, 225 people died.
Coronavirus map: How many cases are in Kentucky? Where are they?
That number is expected to blow up by the end of the week.
Trump at first downplayed the severity of the crisis and nearly two months ago, when there were 15 cases of the disease identified in the United States, predicted there would soon be zero. Now we’re at 55,000 and counting and 784 people dead.
Trump’s now undermining his own health experts by suggesting that getting the economy rolling again is more important than protecting the health of our people. This from a president who claims to be pro-life.
The economy won’t hum as long as were burying thousands of our people every day. And make no mistake, that is where we are heading.
Trump’s administration was slow to grant private labs the ability to develop the tests needed to determine who has this dreaded COVID-19 disease. And testing is the key to figuring out who has this bloody thing and stopping the spread.
South Korea has successfully clamped down on the coronavirus. It was doing 11,000 tests per day before we had done 11,000 tests — total.
In Kentucky, we’ve tested just over 3,000 of our 4.5 million people.
Government labs were slow to get up and running. Private labs waited and waited for federal authorization to develop tests for the disease.
Once the tests were developed, Trump dithered and dithered and has refused to use the Defense Production Act to order manufacturers to make the testing kits and the personal protective gear medical professionals needed to administer the tests and treat the sick.
He still hasn’t issued such an order.
Instituting the act essentially means a temporary takeover of industry and Trump has not done what he needs to do because, well, socialism. We’re so caught up in our fear of the “S-word” that we’re willing to let people die.
After days and days of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come to New York and set up makeshift hospitals, Trump finally did that. Now Trump has sent in mobile military hospitals and ventilators.
Unfortunately, those resources won’t be available to us when the virus outstrips our ability to treat victims in the hinterlands, when our hospitals have to develop the death panels to decide who gets treated and who doesn’t.
We’re learning a lot about ourselves now.
About the people who won’t quarantine themselves and practice social distancing because of selfishness. About the people who are hoarding everything from beef to hand sanitizer to toilet paper.
About our president who won’t take the actions that only he can take to make sure we have the equipment we need to fight this pandemic. About the lieutenant governor of Texas who recently suggested that we let the most vulnerable die of this disease if that’s what it takes to put people back to work.
Maybe, like the boys in the “Lord of the Flies,” we’re learning that there really is a beast out there.
Problem is, maybe it’s us.