Do You Remember?

In the beginning there were no tests. There was not even one single test for Covid in the entire world. There wasn’t even the name “Covid.”

A former president told us to inject bleach and Lysol and ultra-violet lights. When tests became available to healthcare professionals he told us that we should do fewer tests because that would make the reportable number of infections lower and he would look better that way. He attacked our experts and flagrantly lied to us about how dangerous this virus was and about how to protect ourselves. Do you remember?

Then bodies started swarming our ERs. They filled every room, every bed, every gurney in every hallway. Nurses, docs and techs were wearing space suits to protect themselves from a virulent disease for which they had no treatments. Some became sick and died while trying to save others.

They jammed respirator tubes down patients’ throats until they ran out of respirators. Some made a way to split the feed from a respirator so as to keep two patients breathing. Do you remember?

The healthcare professionals were working insane hours and failing every day because they couldn’t do much more for patients than hold their hands as they died. Later they held iPads so that families could say good-bye. And they wept every day for all their failing to help patients, and the bodies piled up in refrigerator trucks. Do you remember?

One day during the worst of it I heard car horns honking in my neighborhood. I don’t know how I knew, but I was certain that it was a parade past the house of a healthcare worker, so I jumped into my car and quickly found and joined the lineup of cars on the next street. At last I passed the house and a nurse or doc still in scrubs and a labcoat stood at her door waving to us, mouthing “Thank you.”

We honored our healthcare heroes with reception lines outside hospitals at shift changes. We sent pizzas. One fellow sang Nessum Dorma to those heroes. They were paying a terrible price to save our lives and we did what we could to say “Thank you.” Do you remember?

I recall during the worst of it, when the virus was spreading so terribly fast and we didn’t even know the methods of transmission, so plexiglass shields were installed at retail shops, hoping that would help to prevent us from infecting one another. I went to check out at the supermarket and there was a girl at the cash register wearing a mask and gloves and I realized that she was doing a death defying act just so that I could purchase groceries. Yet another hero. Do you remember?

We were constantly at the edge of running out of N95 masks and people sewed masks at home and gave them away so that the meager supply of N95s could go to our healthcare people. There were so many cloth masks made that it was nearly impossible to purchase elastic and nobody knew if cloth masks did any good. We did our best to stay at a distance from one another and didn’t know if that did any good, either. Do you remember?

Back in high school most kids avoided the nerdy kids. They weren’t cool. Many were socially awkward. Some kids even tormented them. But they persevered and took their nerdiness into science, where they invented magical vaccines in less than a tenth of the time it normally takes to do such a thing.

We gave them first to our healthcare workers, for obvious reasons. Then to the elderly, especially those trapped in the Petri dishes of nursing homes. Following that, the magical vaccines began to be available to all of us, and we scrambled to find a place where we could make an appointment and be vaccinated. Some of us drove long distances to get a shot in the arm. Do you remember?

And we gained some protection, all because those nerdy kids persevered and went into science – you know, the stuff our reality deniers deny? – and they made magic that has helped all of us, including the reality deniers.

Before those vaccines were available thousands of Americans were dying – not just getting sick, but dying – every day. We’re still losing around 400 per day and nearly all of those who die and nearly all of those who require hospitalization are people who have refused to take the magical vaccines.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are chugging along just fine and, no, Bill Gates can’t track us because there are no nanobots in the vaccines. And the vaccines don’t make anyone sterile or cause people to contract Covid.

We’ve reassured and coaxed and begged people to protect themselves and the people they love, but millions still hold out, some for religious reasons, some for doubt about efficacy of the vaccines and a huge number because they think their freedom is somehow being abridged. Do you remember?

The nerds did even more for us. They developed multiple types of at-home tests for Covid. When tests became available President Biden did an all-hands-on-deck distribution of them, as he had done with the vaccines, to get these healthcare tools into our hands and up our noses. Have you thanked a nerdy person lately? Have you thanked President Biden? You should, because they saved your life.

This has been a stroll down Covid Memory Lane and it’s for a reason.

Our news cycle can be measured in fractions of a second. There is breaking news breaking our attention constantly. There are horrid things that steal our attention, like our ever-present mass murders and elections that are existential threat events. All of that makes us move on from important things as though they’re unimportant. All of that moves us away so fast that we forget to say “Thank you.”

So, this is my reminder and, in this season of what should be gratitude, my humble request that we all thank our everyday heroes. They’re all around us, like the firefighters who run into burning buildings to save us. They’re all doing wondrous things for us every day.

Please, say “Thank you.”

  • ————————————
  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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