3,000 a Day and Counting

The virus is running rampant, thanks to the Trump administration’s complete abdication of responsibility for controlling it. Yesterday we hit 3,055 U.S. deaths from the virus in one day, the highest ever. That surpasses the number killed in the 9/11 attacks, which was 2,977. In fact, most of the deadliest days in U.S. history were this year. We’ve even knocked Pearl Harbor out of the top ten. The following graphic is a few days old and already out of date, as the numbers move higher and higher, but it gives an idea of the increasing scope of the problem.

There has been some pushback on that particular list, but most of it seems ungrounded. One person complained that more people died at Gettysburg than Antietam. Yes, that is so. But that was over three days. The list showcases the deadliest single days; not nearly that many people died in any one day at Gettysburg. I’ve also seen a much lower figure given for Antietam, but that turned out to be the number of Union deaths. For purposes of this comparison, it makes sense to count Confederate deaths too.

Today, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam instituted some new common-sense restrictions. We’re cutting way back on the number of diners allowed in a restaurant at one time, and on the number of patrons allowed in a store at once. And everyone over age 5 is supposed to wear a mask when indoors, except in our own houses. That’s not just public spaces; we’re supposed to wear masks in other people’s homes now, too — though a better choice would be to stay out of other people’s home unless absolutely necessary. There will be a statewide curfew (midnight to 5 a.m.) except for people going to or from work, or in case of medical emergencies.

I completely support the tighter restrictions; in fact, I wish they’d go further. I would like to see tighter enforcement of mask laws. And the mask exemption for people with medical problems should be tightened too. Right now it’s laughable. Anyone who doesn’t want to wear a mask can claim medical issues, with no proof. We should require written authorization from a doctor. People with breathing issues so severe that a mask is dangerous for them would be in so much more danger from the virus than most of us are. Of course, those with breathing problems sometimes need to go out too, to buy groceries or got to medical appointments. But, I’ve seen people in close proximity to others, chatting extensively without seeming the least bit out of breath, and refusing to put on a mask because of alleged medical issues. If they really had such medical issues, would they be hanging out talking to people, endangering their own lives?

And now I see that the U.S. State Department has hosted a party for 200 people, a party that took place both at the White House and at nearby Blair House, and the photos show not a single one of them wearing a mask. What kind of message does it send when the most visible superspreader events are being planned by the federal government?

Please wear a mask. And be careful out there.

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