The coronavirus crisis has brought out the worst … and the best in people. Hoarding, panic buying is one result — but who can blame anyone in a country where the president awash in platitudes, has essentially left people to fend for themselves.
There is now a fairer $2 trillion package, with help for individuals and not mostly for businesses, that required the hand of Congress. With people forced to sit at home, many are not getting paid and need the help.
Amid the chaos and insensitivity of billionaire presidents, there is hope in man’s natural inclination for sacrifice in extremis. Father Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, died in Lovere, Bergamo, (in the epicenter of the epidemic) early this month. His parishioners had bought a respirator for him when he was afflicted by the virus, but Father Berardelli, instead of using is for himself, instructed the hospital staff to give it to a younger person. He was the main priest in the nearby town of Casnigo, where his parishioners applauded from balconies and windows as his coffin was taken for burial.
Italy is now the worst affected country in the world. As of Thursday night, it has had 80,589 cases and 8215 deaths, the latter more than double anywhere else — China, where the epidemic began, has reported 81,782 cases but far fewer deaths. Measures taken to stop the spread including gradually strung out lockdown measures taken from February 23 on have not been as effective as hoped. If the virus is that infectious, is the answer complete lockdown with police patrols to ensure it?
At the other end of the scale from Father Berardelli is the supposed ‘leader of the free world’. It would have to be a most irresponsible, reprehensible, shamelessly disgraceful and indifferent plutocrat who did not educate himself on an affliction endangering his people.
At his press conferences we see a host of officials huddled close to him, not just to dilute his responsibility, but also violating the social distancing precept being advocated.
Since the early days, Donald Trump has called the virus first a “hoax”, then in control, the epidemic itself “pretty much shut down”, and always adding the platitudinous “it’s going to be fine”.
He has said the cases were “going substantially down,” and then that the virus “would disappear”. When the virus had spread widely enough to be named a pandemic by the World Health Organization, he claimed he had “always known” about the severity of the threat. He now says it will be over by Easter.
In times of crisis, the American people rally behind their president. For example, after the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush’s ratings were hitting the high 80s to over 90 percent, as the country awaited a response to overcome the crisis. Yet even then the country did not come to a standstill as it is in many parts at present. Trump’s approval ratings are at his highs — 49 percent (Gallup), 46 percent (Monmouth University) the best in three years.
The stunning information on coronavirus infections from the John Hopkins University dashboard shows the US now leading the world with more than 86,000 cases. Then there is Donald Trump. We cannot go on like this, he said, “We’ve got to open up,” so the economy can get back on track … meaning business wins hands down over people’s lives in his calculus.