Got Hope?

The newspaper headline this morning put it starkly, “Times Square Closed to Public.” New Year’s Eve without Times Square!? Could anything better encapsulate just how bad things have gotten?

Still, there is much to cheer and revel about.  The world now has three approved vaccines to beat back the scourge of COVID-19.  There is hope, but we will need to celebrate this good news in our “bubble” of safe family and friends because, as one public health worker put it, “Covid loves a crowd.”

Meanwhile the vaccine roll-out is revealing new problems.  Even in these final days of a gasping Trump Administration their incompetence, arrogance, and gratuitous cruelty shines on. There have been months to plan this roll-out and even though the resources of the nation are strained and weary there is the remarkable spirit of the American people which is begging to be tapped and used to ensure a speedy distribution of Covid’s new archenemy.

But Trump has never been able to capture that energy in any other way than to denigrate and divide. He has once again thrown the burden onto the States, washing his hands of the entire affair. Or so it seems. Last spring he declared himself the general in War on Covid but he has been MIA for several months now.  He has been too busy plotting the death of American democracy to worry about saving lives.

These next twenty days, until a real president is inaugurated, will be some of the hardest this country has seen. Already there are 100,000 dead since the election! With the exception of the American Civil War, Covid deaths now exceed the death counts in all our past wars.  Had we set our sights on “herd immunity,” as Trump and his people have sometimes endorsed, we would likely match the death count of the Great Pandemic of 1918 — 675,000.

But the vaccines will likely prevent that catastrophe.  So there is hope on this New Year’s Eve, fragile and flickering as it might be. For this New Year let us quietly reflect on the 335,000+ Americans who will not drink champagne and toot horns at midnight.  Let us steel ourselves for the coming weeks and months knowing that the real new year will begin on January 20th.

Happy New Year all. ❖

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