In the bottom of the 9th, America was down 7-6 with 2 outs and needed late inning heroics to stage a comeback.
With the whole country watching, our grocery store employees and delivery workers led off with a single to right field. A double up the right-center gap from transportation workers moved the runner to third. However, a strong throw from the centerfielder prevented the speedy delivery workers from scoring.
Next up were the healthcare workers and first responders. As expected, they were intentionally walked – no one wants to pitch to them with the game on the line.
And then the government came up. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, a single wins the game, defeats the virus, and allows for the safe reopening of the country.
The first pitch is a ball. Cities act quickly to flatten the curve and stop the spread by closing down businesses and encouraging people to stay home.
Strike 1- Apparently the government never read the pitcher’s scouting report and was caught looking at a curveball on the inside corner. Maybe if it had studied film or listened to the advice of it’s hitting coach, it would have hit the curve and walked-off a hero. Unfortunately, the batter never listened to any coaches since signing a 4-year contract.
Ball 2 is inside. The CARES act passes, an unprecedented move to bail out consumers by the government. Some argue the batter should’ve “taken one for the team” and get hit by the pitch to score a run and tie the game. But even though the team was struggling, it couldn’t offer more financial security to millions of Americans who still desperately need it.
Ball 3 – States start working together to procure masks, testing, and an opening strategy based on their region and governor. The hodgepodge manner in which this was achieved and lack of a coordinated federal effort led the visiting team to complain the pitch was a strike. But the umpire stood by their call, and the at-bat continued.
With a 3-1 count, the government swings and misses at a high 104 mph fastball. They might have had success if they swung earlier, but they could not catch up to the speed of that pitch.
Two months have passed since the first pitch was thrown. During this at bat, not enough tests for the virus have been deployed, little to no effort has been made at contact tracing, unemployment is at an unprecedented high, people still have to pay rent when they have no money, the homeless still don’t have a home to shelter in, low income residents and minorities have been disproportionately affected by the virus, and many essential workers don’t have sick days, benefits, or equipment to protect themselves on the job. All while many other countries have greatly reduced and almost eliminated the virus.
Now more and more Anericans want to open up, making it next to impossible to actually implement a program to quickly reduce the spread of the virus. All because there was no plan, no partnerships in place before the pandemic struck, and no programs implemented during the shutdown to test everyone, contact trace, and isolate those who were potentially in contact with the virus. Two months have passed and our government has achieved nothing.
Strike three! The umpire yells emphatically. The government goes down looking, and walks off the field to boos from the (socially-distant) crowd.
This response has been a failure. Not because we had a shutdown, but because the government, despite some cities and states best efforts, left America on base.
I thought about ending the article there, but I can’t write anything without offering ideas or advocating for something.
I think everyone wants to return to normal. Not everyone (in fact most people) don’t want to return to normal with a rapidly spreading disease that has the potential to kill 1.7 million Americans. So maybe we should spend 90% of our efforts on eradicating the disease and learning from the numerous places which are safely opening up.
Here are just a few ideas in no particular order:
- Hire lower-risk people to do more testing and get a contract tracing program
- Get an app developed to assist with contract tracing
- Mandate that people with the virus quarantine in their homes or at designated hotels
- Mandate that visitors quarantine in empty university dorms or hotels for 14 days before entering public
- Set up a free delivery program so quarantined people get their basic needs met even if they have no family or friends to support them
- Use hotels to house the unhoused and fund hotel workers so they can keep their jobs.
- Figure out how to build new housing/shelters so when things reopen the homeless don’t go back onto the street.
- Let’s offer to test people in their homes rather than making them drive to a location – not everyone has a car.
- Let’s make sure the front line workers have the protection, testing, and benefits they desperately need.
- Open the streets to people, and do so without over-policing them
- Cancel rent and give people the option to delay mortgage payments by extending loans for a few months.
Some people will argue that some of these ideas are an infringement of our freedom. Under normal circumstances, maybe I’d slightly agree. But these aren’t normal circumstances, these policies aren’t permanent, and deadly viruses can’t read the constitution. These measures are being enacted by many countries with all kinds of government structures because the policies are effective at not letting people die. So effective that South Korea and Taiwan already have baseball again. All while many of us question whether the NFL or College Football will happen this fall.
In times like these, we need the government to be successful. A successful government means less sickness, less deaths, and a quicker, safer return to normal. The country shut down for TWO months to buy time to stop the virus from spreading. 80,000+ deaths later, by far the most anywhere in the world, we’ve only begun to slow down and have no protection against a second wave.
America may have lost in game one against the virus, but the public health crisis is far from over. Let’s put together a program that’ll close out the series in five games.