It is coming to us as a diabolical enemy: malign, merciless and murderous.
The second wave of COVID-19 will be killing us today, tomorrow, and on and on until a vaccine is administered not just to the willing recipients, but to the whole population. That could take years.
We haven’t been through anything like this since the 1918 influenza pandemic. Not only is COVID-19 set to kill many more of us than it already has, but it also is likely to have huge collateral damage.
Think restaurants: 60 percent of the individually owned ones are set to fail. Think real estate: The damage is so far too great and expanding too fast to calculate — all those office buildings sitting empty, all those shopping centers being vacated. The real estate crisis is beginning, just beginning, to be felt by the banks.
Think education: A year has been lost in education.
Our cultural institutions, from small sports teams to all the performing arts, are on death watch. How long can you hold a theater production company together? How do you save those very fragile temples of high culture, including ballet, opera and symphony music? What of the buildings which house them?
Now looming are the malevolent threats to Thanksgiving and Christmas. These festivals, so cherished, so looked forward to, such milestones of every year and our lives, are set to kill many of us, gathered in love and joy.
Families will assemble in happiness, but that diabolical guest COVID-19 will be taking its monstrous, lethal place at our tables — at the very events that in normal times bind us together. Death will share our feasts.
These are words of alarm, and they are meant to be.
Nearly a quarter of a million of us have died, choked to death by the virus. Projected deaths are 110,000 more by the new year. Yet our leaders have spurned the modest defenses available to us: face masks and isolation. There is little usefulness in assigning blame — but there is blame — and it points upward.
But there is localized blame, too.
Blame for what I see on the streets, where young people stroll without protecting themselves and others from the deadly virus. Blame for what I see at the shops, where customers gain entry without the modest consideration of wearing a face mask for a few minutes.
There is blame for pastors who have insisted on holding services that have spread COVID-19 to their parishioners. And there is blame for those who have rallied or taken to street demonstrations. The virus has no political affiliation, but politics has befriended it in awful ways.
The mother lode of blame must be put upon that increasingly bizarre figure Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, elected to lead and defend us.
Trump couldn’t have vanquished the pandemic, but he could have limited its spread. He could have guided the people, set an example, told the truth, unleashed consideration not invective.
He could have done his job.
When we needed information, we got lies; when we needed guidance, we were encouraged to take risks by myth and bad example. A high number of his own staff has been felled.
On Jan. 20, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden will step into this gigantic crisis. Even if the first doses of a vaccine are being administered, the crisis will still be in full flame, taking lives, destroying businesses, subtracting jobs and changing the trajectory of the future.
There will be good, but it will take time to arrive. It will be in innovation in everything, from more medical research to start-ups and lessons learned about survival in crisis.
It will impact immigration. Only the willfully unobservant won’t note that a preponderance of the health authorities featured nightly on television weren’t born here, and their talent is a bonus for the country.
It should be noted that Pfizer’s landmark COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t developed in that U.S. pharmaceutical behemoth, but by a husband-and-wife team in a small company in Germany. Both are children of Turkish immigrants to that country.
In all countries, immigrants have had the adventurous spirit that is the soul of creativity. Let them in.