March is Women’s History Month, as we’ve written in a previous editorial. In it, we identified a number of African American women who have contributed positively to world history. Some were known, and others were not as well known. All were worthy of being cited for their contributions. As destiny would have it, something else has attempted to steal the thunder of this important month: COVID-19, the coronavirus that allegedly had its origin in China in 2019. Just a month ago, most Americans were going about their daily lives with the ups and downs that they were used to experiencing, not imagining that their lives would change in a few short weeks. As a result of the viruses impact, what was unimaginable last month has become reality. The country of China has quarantined itself, as has Italy. The United States has banned travel from the U.K. Schools in many major cities are closed as are many other public spaces like museums, bars, churches, restaurants, theaters and more, and the numbers of infected people are increasing exponentially. People are being required to limit how many are gathered in one space, and nursing homes are barring visitors.
One of the challenges connected with school closings is that of figuring out how thousands of low income children will be able to access nutritious meals, since schools are a major source of these for them. Fortunately, some school districts have made arrangements for children to pick up food from schools and take it home. Problem partially solved.
Other challenges are not so easy to address. It is becoming clearer by the day that the impact of COVID-19 will be economically devastating, not only in the United States, but around the world. Business closures, now considered temporary, are causing businesses to lose revenue and employees to lose salaries. There is a domino effect, and there are not any clear pathways at the present time as to how to resolve this issue. In addition to the foregoing, high-profile figures have revealed that they have been infected by the virus. Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, are among those who have tested positive for the virus.
Unfortunately, our federal government has not managed the crisis well, and some people would consider this an understatement. We have no effective way, at press time, to determine the extent to which our country has been impacted due to a lack of distribution of test kits. According to President Trump, we now have kits. For whatever reason, many individuals who suspect that they have been infected and need to be tested for confirmation have not been able to access them.
Other challenges include a run on stores and the stockpiling of items like toilet paper, water and food in anticipation of the possibility of being quarantined. As it stands, people, especially vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with compromised immune systems due to pre-existing conditions, are encouraged to stay home as much as possible in order to avoid contact with people. A side note – it has been interesting to watch the cavalier attitude in which some Americans in the latter group are treated. It is as though they are expendable, and the viruses impact should be considered “mild” because that group is the only one expected to experience the greatest mortality. Conversely, it has been reported that people over 70 in the U.K. will be quarantined at home for 4 months in a ‘wartime’ effort to tackle the coronavirus. Overall, in the United States there are estimates that we are projected to experience a mortality rate of 3 percent, which can translate into the death of at least 3 million Americans.
Ultimately, March 2020 is turning out to be very eventful; the lives of Americans (and the world) have been turned upside down. And amidst all of the chaos, there is an unfortunate undercurrent of fake news. Ridiculous stances have been taken by some who say that COVID-19 is nothing “new,” that it is just a “cold on steroids,” and that the whole situation is just a publicity scheme created by the media for the purpose of generating dollars! These thoughts aside, we must strive to protect ourselves by washing our hands frequently, avoid touching our faces, and practice what has come to be called “social distancing” in order to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. And let’s not forget that this is still Women’s History Month; we shouldn’t allow the coronavirus to steal its thunder! A Luta Continua.