Everyone wants to point fingers of blame when things go awry. It doesn’t matter what it is that went wrong, people seem to want to use hindsight to say woulda, shoulda, coulda as they are pointing their fingers at the person(s) most responsible for whatever the occurrence was. A major hurricane? It’s got yo be due to climate change and the reason the climate is changing and spawning these horrific storms is a failure in the leadership of our country to do anything to reduce carbon emission that are causing the heat that results in these storms.
Of course, as best they are able, no one can precisely predict the number of hurricanes each year, much less the number that will make landfall or their intensity, until they actually happen. Remember after Katrina, which was probably the worst disaster from a hurricane the US has witnessed on more than 80 years? It was only going to get worse from there (2005) and hurricanes like Katrina would be common and we could expect even worse from now on. Those predictions made a lot of headlines and received a lot of air time on television but – never happened. 2012 (Sandy) was the next year where the US experienced a serious landfall and that storm, although causing an enormous amount of damage, little loss of life (compared to 2005). The next? 2017 where multiple hurricanes hit Texas, Florida, almost wiped out Puerto Rico. Again, lots of damage, and too much loss of life, especially in Puerto Rico. Where do we place the blame for all of those storms? Think about it. All of these cities and states have had storms in the past – the recent past, but were they prepared for what they received? Hardly.
Now, we have the COVID-19 pandemic and before the contagion is mitigated people are already wanting to place the blame for this virus blowing up out of control in some regions. Certainly, the president has blame for this in that he could’ve marshaled response weeks earlier, but he’s not the only one. In New York City, the current epicenter of the disease, the mayor told residents, from the beginning of February through the entire month to just go about you lives. Even as late as March 16, he didn’t place any restrictions on the city. The same can be said of the governor of New york who as late as March 10, was saying that it was under control. Out of the more than 5,000 deaths (in just 2 months!), in the US, 40% are in New York.
Two more hotspots: Florida and Louisiana, did little to nothing to attempt to mitigate what has become a disaster for them. In Florida, Spring Break in March carried on for at least two weeks. Thousands of people probably came into contact with COVID-19 and then? Took it home with them. Again, in March when we knew there was a problem but not what the extent may be. The same with Louisiana, which held, on schedule, Mardi Gras in New Orleans which sees hundreds of thousands of people celebrate every year, from all across the country, if not the world. Why weren’t the beaches closed in Florida and Mardi Gras cancelled? During the same time all sporting events, including the NCAA Tournament (“March Madness”) were cancelled. Large gatherings were cancelled by those that were promoting them. In Texas, SXSW, which brings a few hundred thousand to Austin each year? Cancelled by the sponsors.
Other states, California, and Washington (where the first reported deaths took place) took early action and, so far, have no seen the spike in cases or death as some other states. But they weren’t prepared for this either. No one was. It’s just by taking early action they were able to flatten the curve. So far. In the meantime, in the last two weeks alone, because most states have shuttered all but necessary businesses, nearly 10 million people have filed for unemployment. In just to weeks. How many more by the end of next week? Our economy has effectively come to a halt. Who’s to blame for that? We can for sure blame our leaders, from the local all the way to the federal level who dithered, and were not prepared at all, for this disaster. Of course it’s easy to place blame, but after having experienced in the country SARS, MERS, Ebola, H1N1 just this century, you’d think that government at all levels would be prepared in case another disease popped up. They weren’t, at all.
Of course we’re to blame as well because after the previous outbreaks, never bothered to ask any of our elected officials if they were prepared in case there was another outbreak. No, we just took it for granted that they were taking care of it. Now we know that none of them were doing anything to prepare, at all, for anything remotely close to what we’re experiencing now. We’re being told by the presidents own people that the death toll, with mitigation, could be between 100,000 and 240,000. Of course they’re saying that doing nothing at all, we would probably see 2.2 million deaths. I guess that’s supposed to make us feel better about the possible 240,000. It doesn’t.
The real question, past the horror of disease and the economic disaster occurring because of it is, once it’s over, will we have learned anything? Will we be better prepared the next time? That’s not an “if” but a “when”.