A week ago the only news that mattered was about the pandemic. Coronavirus comprised the bulk of my waking thought and almost all of the media I consumed; I’m sure the same was true for many of us.
Then the video emerged of police murdering George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis. The global health emergency has been all but forgotten in the spreading demonstrations and riots that followed.
Demonstrators in score of US cities, and around the world, are no longer practicing social distancing or, in many cases, wearing masks. (Click on the photo for a larger depiction of a march in Savannah GA on May 30.) It’s nearly inevitable that in two weeks’ time we will see an upsurge of Covid-19 cases, echoed a week later by an uptick in hospitalizations, then ICU admissions, then deaths.
Restrictions on movement and assembly put in place nationwide to flatten the pandemic’s first surge are being eased in 46 states and have been lifted in two more. The US just crossed 105,000 deaths from Covid-19. What we need to avoid 10 to 20 times as many more deaths from this disease are competent “wartime” leadership, a national conversation, and a plan.
Instead the country teeters on the brink of civil war, the legacy of 400 years of institutionalized white supremacy and black oppression. And the country’s elected leader stands with gasoline hose in one hand and lit blowtorch in the other.