"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, September 15, 2023

COVID Hysteria - Coming Again To A Neighborhood Near You

Marge Compton had been on the front lines in the COVID wars of 2020.  She had been a vigilante, masked and distanced. calling out those who defied public order.  This was The Big One, and only through militancy, courage, and strength against naysayers, could its mortal, viral spread be stopped.  

She organized troupes of Stasi-like informers who were tasked with identifying, shaming, and marginalizing the New Age's refuseniks. She was the first to shout J'accuse! first to champion Dr. Fauci with love banners and festoons, first to out 100 naysayers, posting names and addresses on her lawn, first to organize children's brigades, brown shirt intimidators informing on parents, friends, and neighbors.  

She was a hero in University Park, a tidily progressive corner of Washington, DC, home to the best and the brightest of modern liberalism, racially attuned, gender sensitive, and climate concerned.  They were in lockstep in their commitment, philosophy, and attitude, except for pockets of doubters, mini-enclaves of conservative economists and Lockean historians whose lawns were trimmed and landscaped but with none of the beach store mix of political tchotchkes, rainbow signs, and Black Lives Matter paraphernalia. As educated as University Park residents might be, they couldn't help announcing their pride.  So a house with a bare lawn was suspect, home of an outlier, an apostate, a Trumper. 

Marge kept her eye on them, dawdled past with her dog waiting for an unmasked sortie, or a glimpse inside a strewn-about, unsanitary interior.  

Her own home was a model of COVID defense.  She routinely scrubbed every surface with industrial cleansers, isolated her mail for three days, installed state-of-the-art air purifiers, triple masked when forced to go out, and was quadruple vaccinated.  

When the pandemic ebbed, punitive restrictions dropped, and life returned to normal, Marge was discouraged.  Traces of the virus, mutating, varying, and still dangerous were still around, capable of a terrible resurgence in a vaccine-immune form.  It was only a matter of time.  She would never, ever let down her guard. 

And so when the President expressed his concern and dropped the handkerchief of mask mandates, she was delighted.  Not only was she proven right about the virus, showing up all the Cassandra-shouters and right wing bigots who had labelled her as a nutcase and political floozy; but she was energized and happy, now once again able to fulfill her childhood promise of being someone who mattered.  This time around people would listen, champion her cause, and lionize her. 

'Mask Mandates Save Lives' was the lawn sign of choice. 'Hate Has No Home Here', 'Democracy Matters', and pink flamingoes had to go in favor of the banners of the new millennium - for this moment of history was indeed to be the world's defining age.  There would only be before COVID and after COVID, a desolate wasteland far worse than the burnt forests and baking plains of climate change. 

This time, far more savvy about negotiating the political ins and outs of Washington, she began a citizens' crusade on Congress, to urge, nay demand, that new legislation defending the nation against the Black Plague of Corona be passed.  Also, now far more familiar with the power of social media and finally adept at electronic viraling, she was a demon at trolling and aggressively and deftly using ploys, tricks, and sucker bait. 

All of which did not stop her neighborhood vigilantism. Think globally, act locally was her meme; and she was tireless in her neighborhood activism. 

She was surprised, however, at the indifference of her neighbors who, suffering from mask fatigue never wanted to wear them again.  They burned their vaccination records like draft cards, threw boxes of Lysol, Purell, and Mr. Clean unceremoniously into dumpsters, and burned masks in a Guy Fawkes celebration of law-defying lawn burning.  The whole episode of her once faithful, progressive storm troopers who were turning seriousness into circus antics was shameful. 

Hold on a sec here, she counselled herself.  One did not want to lose one's cool; and faced with what was clearly a resistance to the reimposition of pandemic restrictions, she reined up, strategically retreated, and waited.  Once the virus returned with a vengeance that was inevitable, she would leave the barracks. 

Now despite Marge's febrile concerns, most people had simply learned from history  The pandemic, after all, was not that bad. Deaths from cancer and heart disease beggared the paltry numbers of COVID.  Mortality and severe morbidity were only things of the old and infirm and those with underlying compromising health conditions.  

In fact, COVID deaths, always a small proportion of those with the disease, were overwhelmingly in this demographic group.  Immune-compromised deaths were nearly 8 times that of deaths in the young, healthy population.  Hospitalization rates were even more skewed. Children were not super-spreaders, hand washing was a blind alley. 

Businesses, schools, and institutions had been closed, shuttered, and nailed shut for that? people shouted.  Besides, everyone, despite everything, got COVID; so it was not surprising that the young were willing to risk getting what would likely be only a bad cold.  The old, still vulnerable, knew that three years of their dwindling lives had been robbed by government overreach, so never again. 

Marge, who had expected opposition, got only indifference.  Go away, old lady, was the only remark she heard, a rude dismissal of a woman deserving respect at least. 

Next year (2024) is an election year, and Democrats who have tested the waters and found the electorate in a bad mood about masks, have demurred.  Doing the right thing may have to wait until the polls are closed.  We have enough to worry about, say Democratic operatives, what with our President making less and less sense and the people already buggered about sex change, to get up in arms about masks. 

Marge by no means hung up her spurs and she continued to remain vigilant.  What was this country coming to, she wondered what with Black Lives Matter and Transgenderism off front lawns, Climate Change a weary, old chestnut, and the poor hustled back into trailers and crack houses?  Where were the good causes anymore? What was a mother to do?

Retire, said her husband, tired of her irritating causes and poster-making.  Not exactly get a life, for they had been married for many years and he, like most older husbands, just ignored his wife's excesses.  Yet retirement from doing the right thing was not exactly retiring from accounting; so she kept on the lookout for signs of life in the movement.  She could only wait so long, so if mask mandates did not return soon, she would have to move on to another cause; but she would do so willingly and happily. Anything to make America a better place. 

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