How does this all end? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? And, if so, is it a train heading straight for us?
Governments all over the world have certainly used the pandemic to accrue more power and control. In some cases, it’s been relatively benign. New Zealand quickly placed restrictions on who could enter the country and inaugurated very thorough contract tracing, but weren’t overtly Orwellian about it and did manage to be quite effective at restricting the spread of the virus. China on the other hand went full gonzo and used the pandemic to crush Hong Kong and end its quasi-autonomy with the draconian Article 38. Potential huge profits for Big Pharma and the possibility of “immunity passports” both suggest concentrations of power that even those who aren’t conspiracy theorists could be concerned about.
And how long will this go on for? The influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 had three waves, the second being the deadliest. We haven’t even completed Wave One, and we’re being wildly inconsistent about dealing with it. Florida’s being particularly schizophrenic, simultaneously closing restaurants and ordering schools to open.
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For parents who cannot simply sort it out, our national response feels more like a dystopian novel where only the wealthy get to limit their exposure and survive the pandemic unscathed. Allowing workplaces to reopen while schools, camps and day cares remain closed tells a generation of working parents that it’s fine if they lose their jobs, insurance and livelihoods in the process. It’s outrageous, and I fear if we don’t make the loudest amount of noise possible over this, we will be erased from the economy.
A consensus is emerging among top economists and business leaders that getting kids back into day cares and schools is critical to getting the economy back to normal. And the American Academy of Pediatrics warned this week that keeping children out of school in the fall would threaten a degree of “social isolation” for children that could lead to mental and physical harm.
Yet many school systems are discussing only a partial reopening in the fall or remaining virtual, and up to half of the country’s child-care centers may shut permanently because they can’t survive financially, industry leaders warn, leaving families with even fewer options.
Many U.S. oil and gas drillers were already living on borrowed time even before the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to heavy borrowings from banks over the past years. But the crash in oil demand and the collapse in oil prices shortened the time for indebted companies to be able to kick the can down the road, accelerating the upward trend in bankruptcy filings.
Authorities in the Australian city of Melbourne have confined people living in nine housing estate tower blocks because of an outbreak of coronavirus.
The 3,000 or so residents of the blocks are being told not to leave their homes for any reason for at least five days.