Editorial: The good, bad and ugly
Call it the silver-lining syndrome, or the bright side of human nature, and we see in the depth of uncertainty and hard times to come the human need to help and prevail.
So it is that three funds sprung up through individual efforts last week to raise $100,000 for local food shelves and homeless shelters, and this week another $50,000 challenge grant was launched by the United Way of Addison County (see story on Page 1A) to help its member agencies meet their needs in the health crisis to come.
We also see three area businesses combine forces to produce 1,600 gallons of hand sanitizer by the end of their first week to meet a critical need for Porter Hospital and which now hope to be able to make enough sanitizer for other hospitals within the University of Vermont Health Network.
The Middlebury Area Rotary Club moved to the fore this week with an initiative to buy $2,500 worth of local business coupons and to auction those off to the community as a way to pump money into local businesses. And two women in Ripton, who typically make hats, have launched an initiative to make fabric masks for area residents as a partial solution to the nation’s critical shortage of medical masks.
All are examples, big and small, of individuals and organizations jumping into the midst of the battle to help others.
It will all be needed, and more.
As expected, Gov. Phil Scott ordered a “Stay Home, Be Safe” order late Tuesday afternoon after Vermont’s health care professionals proclaimed that Vermont is seeing “exponential growth” of the coronavirus pandemic. The number of confirmed cases in Vermont leapt from 79 on Tuesday to 123 by the latest update Wednesday afternoon, with eight reported deaths and 1, 712 people tested and 342 patients being monitored. With such a trend line, Vermont officials are concerned the state may not have adequate medical capacity to handle the upcoming peak due to arrive by late April or early May.
Scott is right to issue the order and require Vermonters to “shelter up” and avoid as much person-to-person contact as possible over the next several weeks. The order is set to expire on April 15, but with Vermont’s peak not expected to hit until later, Addison County residents would be well advised to anticipate becoming comfortable in their homes throughout April and into mid-May… or longer.
What the “stay home, be safe” order means, at least at this moment, is that Vermonters and guests are allowed to hike, go on walks or otherwise exercise outdoors as long as the CDC recommendation to stay 6 feet away from others is maintained. That is, no high fives, no hugs or handshakes to greet each other, no social fraternizing.
Importantly, we’ll all have to learn how to buy our goods and services from our local vendors online, via email or phone calls. Notice our recommendation is to buy locally online, not via Amazon or other national services or outlets. It’s crucial for area businesses that if area residents need something, they look up their local merchant (online, in the phone book or in the newspaper) and find out how they can purchase what they need through them. Many local merchants will remain open and be willing to take your order over the phone or email, confirm payment and then arrange for curbside pickup of critical goods.
It may be take a little extra effort to do so, but if we value our local business community, it’s essential we help every local business we can through this health care and economic challenge.
The tragedy of where America is today is that it did not need to be this ugly. America will soon be the epicenter of the pandemic. It is likely we will overtake all other countries in the number of deaths, even though our estimated 2020 population of 330 million is about one fifth of China’s and India’s current populations of 1.4 billion people in each.
It is also shocking that while China had no forewarning of the disease, that country grasped the situation (after initial denial) and took decisive action to bring its spread to a halt. Its central government acted firmly and with precision while Trump has dithered, spouted false information, blamed others, hurled needless insults and appeared completely ignorant and clueless of his role as the country’s leader.
Even as Trump had six to eight weeks to prepare for a pandemic he knew was coming, he and many Republicans denied its severity and smugly watched the disease’s destructive spread in Europe and its devastation to the health and prosperity of Italy — and did nothing. That borders on criminal negligence.
When the history of this pandemic is written, Trump and his administration will be held responsible for the needless deaths of tens of thousands of Americans because Trump squandered the opportunity to act proactively — as Taiwan, South Korea and Japan (and later China) did successfully to bend the curve and keep the pandemic in check.
Trump supporters, in particular, should know that the nation’s economy would not be in its current tailspin had Trump any capacity to understand simple information presented to him. Small and large businesses across America would not be wondering if they will survive because of Trump’s inept response. And Americans would not be facing the long-term impact (in the form of national debt that has to be repaid) of a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package — much of which will be used to bail out industries which were raking in record profits just weeks earlier, while small businesses across rural and urban America may go bankrupt. Trump’s inaction amounts to a $2 trillion mistake to cover for his incompetence.
It’s just one travesty after another with this bozo. You would think Americans would tire of what Trump infamously said would be “winning so much” with him as president, and kick him out of office. We can only hope that’s the outcome — along with many Republicans who acted as obedient lemmings and betrayed the country by shirking their duty as an effective counter to the derelict power of an unstable executive.