The Coronavirus Pandemic Doesn’t Care That We’re All Bored With It

From President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s ludicrous assertions that the novel coronavirus pandemic is no big deal anymore to crowded bars in Arizona and block parties in New York City, it sure seems like Americans are ready to move on from the public health emergency that has […]

From President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s ludicrous assertions that the novel coronavirus pandemic is no big deal anymore to crowded bars in Arizona and block parties in New York City, it sure seems like Americans are ready to move on from the public health emergency that has dominated our lives since March.

Yes, the daily count of new infections and deaths has fallen since its peak in April in May. New York City no longer is in full crisis as the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. Stay-at-home orders have caused pain and inconvenience to virtually everyone.

But the coronavirus has infected more than 2 million Americans and killed nearly 120,000. The daily tally of new cases is now rising, not falling, both here and abroad. There have been about as many new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over the past two weeks as there were in early April ― around 25,000 each day. The new hot spots are now places like Arizona, Florida and Texas, all states that have adopted aggressive “reopening” policies.

We may be finished with the coronavirus, but the virus isn’t finished with us.

Whether the crest we’re now riding is the continuation of the “first wave” that began in January or the onset of a “second wave” is a semantic difference that utterly doesn’t matter. The pandemic is ongoing. It will not go away just because we’re weary. 

Political leaders, especially ― but not exclusively ― Republicans like Trump, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, are plainly prioritizing money over human lives. That would be bad enough, except the GOP has also politicized basic safety precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing, putting the party’s own supporters at the greatest risk.

It’s telling that while Trump is going ahead with a huge indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday despite pleading from city health officials amid a major spike in COVID-19, his campaign is trying to indemnify itself against lawsuits from attendees who become ill.

This has been Trump’s playbook from the beginning: downplay the risks of the coronavirus in public while quietly acknowledging its severity. And if he cares at all about the health of his supporters ― or anyone else ― there’s no evidence to be found of it.

Republican governors have followed his lead. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts notified counties in the state that they wouldn’t be eligible for financial aid if they imposed mask requirements in government buildings. In Texas, Abbott has rebuffed pleas from mayors to allow them to mandate masks in public. DeSantis is plowing ahead with Florida’s rapid reopening despite a sharp rise in infections.

This isn’t just about the politicians or even one political party, though. The decisions individual Americans make about how to behave are arguably an even bigger factor. It’s a political choice to allow restaurants and bars to open for outdoor seating. It’s a personal choice to go to them, to not employ sensible social distancing and to leave your face uncovered.

The pain Americans are suffering because of this outbreak is very real. The many lives that COVID-19 has interrupted, ruined or ended would be enough to illustrate that.

But millions are out of work, and unemployment benefits are close to running out. Businesses are shuttered. Schools are closed. Essential workers risk their health to commute to their jobs. Those working from home have to juggle their jobs and their family obligations. Families and friends are separated from each other. Whether you live alone or with others, isolation takes a heavy toll on your mental health. 

It’s all horrible. These things are all true, and they all hurt. They also don’t matter to the virus.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that you want to hold a political rally.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that you’re worried about reelection.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that your business closed or you lost your job.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that schools are closed.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that you’re a Republican or a Democrat.

The coronavirus doesn’t care where you live.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that you miss your family and friends.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that your kids are driving you crazy.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that your children are miserable.

The coronavirus doesn’t care that the weather is nice.

The coronavirus doesn’t care how long it’s been since you had sex.

The coronavirus doesn’t care how bad your hair looks.

There is no coronavirus vaccine. There is no COVID-19 cure. The only tools we have at our disposal are the same ones everybody is fed up with. Staying at home. Hand-washing. Social distancing. Face covering. If we abandon those, it’s going to get worse.

The past few months have felt like eons. But the truly terrifying thing is that if we continue on this path toward pretending the pandemic is over, the nightmare will last even longer. Is that really what we want?

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

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Beijing

A woman wears a protective mask as she takes a photo on a nearly empty section of the Great Wall on March 27, 2020, near Badaling in Beijing, China.
A woman wears a protective mask as she takes a photo on a nearly empty section of the Great Wall on March 27, 2020, near Badaling in Beijing, China.

New York City

An empty 7th Avenue in Times Square on April 19, 2020, in New York City.
An empty 7th Avenue in Times Square on April 19, 2020, in New York City.

London

Abbey Road zebra crossing on April 16, 2020, in London.
Abbey Road zebra crossing on April 16, 2020, in London.

Cairo

A picture on April 18, 2020, shows the Great Pyramids lit in blue with the message "Stay Home" outside the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
A picture on April 18, 2020, shows the Great Pyramids lit in blue with the message “Stay Home” outside the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

An empty staircase leading to the Batu Caves temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 30, 2020.
An empty staircase leading to the Batu Caves temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 30, 2020.

Llandudno, Wales

Mountain goats roam the streets of Llandudno, Wales, on March 31, 2020. The goats normally live on the rocky Great Orme but are occasional visitors to the seaside town; a local councillor told the BBC that the herd was drawn by the lack of people due to social distancing.
Mountain goats roam the streets of Llandudno, Wales, on March 31, 2020. The goats normally live on the rocky Great Orme but are occasional visitors to the seaside town; a local councillor told the BBC that the herd was drawn by the lack of people due to social distancing.

Los Angeles

The dinosaur atop the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium wears a mask to encourage people to take safety measures as coronavirus infections spread on April 19, 2020.
The dinosaur atop the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium wears a mask to encourage people to take safety measures as coronavirus infections spread on April 19, 2020.

Mecca, Saudi Arabia

An aerial view shows an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque on March 6, 2020.
An aerial view shows an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque on March 6, 2020.

Pattaya, Thailand

The empty Legend Siam theme park in Pattaya on March 8, 2020. The park, which attracts up to 20,000 mainly Chinese customers a day in the high season, is temporarily closed.
The empty Legend Siam theme park in Pattaya on March 8, 2020. The park, which attracts up to 20,000 mainly Chinese customers a day in the high season, is temporarily closed.

Vatican City

A view of empty chairs at St. Peter's Square before the live broadcast of Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus prayer on March 8, 2020, in Vatican City, Vatican.
A view of empty chairs at St. Peter’s Square before the live broadcast of Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus prayer on March 8, 2020, in Vatican City, Vatican.

Sydney

A before-and-after composite image shows Bondi Beach with a large gathering of beachgoers on March 20, 2020 (top) and again on March 22, 2020, after the beach was closed to the public.
A before-and-after composite image shows Bondi Beach with a large gathering of beachgoers on March 20, 2020 (top) and again on March 22, 2020, after the beach was closed to the public.

Tunis, Tunisia

Cats on a nearly empty street in the Medina neighborhood of Tunis, Tunisia.
Cats on a nearly empty street in the Medina neighborhood of Tunis, Tunisia.

Rome

A view of the Colosseum in the evening in Rome.
A view of the Colosseum in the evening in Rome.

Moscow

A pigeon sits in the Iberian Gate in a deserted Red Square on April 2, 2020.
A pigeon sits in the Iberian Gate in a deserted Red Square on April 2, 2020.

Bangkok

A view of empty streets, shuttered bars, and closed restaurants on Khaosan Road on April 15, 2020 in Bangkok. April 13-15 marks Songkran, Thailand's Buddhist new year celebration, when Thai people typically travel to the provinces to be with family or take part in large-scale water fights and parties throughout Bangkok.
A view of empty streets, shuttered bars, and closed restaurants on Khaosan Road on April 15, 2020 in Bangkok. April 13-15 marks Songkran, Thailand’s Buddhist new year celebration, when Thai people typically travel to the provinces to be with family or take part in large-scale water fights and parties throughout Bangkok.

Ballachulish, Scotland

Empty chairlifts at the Glencoe Ski Centre in Ballachulish, Scotland.
Empty chairlifts at the Glencoe Ski Centre in Ballachulish, Scotland.

Jerusalem

A man prays at the nearly empty Western Wall in the old city on April 6, 2020, in Jerusalem.
A man prays at the nearly empty Western Wall in the old city on April 6, 2020, in Jerusalem.

Jumeirah Beach, Dubai

Empty sunbeds at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai on March 12, 2020.
Empty sunbeds at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai on March 12, 2020.

Paris

The Arc de Triomphe is almost deserted during lockdown on April 12, 2020.
The Arc de Triomphe is almost deserted during lockdown on April 12, 2020.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Aerial view of Guanabara Park during the coronavirus outbreak in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on April 5, 2020.
Aerial view of Guanabara Park during the coronavirus outbreak in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on April 5, 2020.

Washington, D.C.

An empty Vietnam Veterans Memorial on April 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
An empty Vietnam Veterans Memorial on April 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Anaheim, California

A lock hangs on the center gate between the turnstiles at the entrance to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on March 16, 2020.
A lock hangs on the center gate between the turnstiles at the entrance to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on March 16, 2020.

Tehran, Iran

A photo on March 20, 2020, shows an empty street in Tehran, Iran.
A photo on March 20, 2020, shows an empty street in Tehran, Iran.

Washington, D.C.

The empty Metro Center station on April 15, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
The empty Metro Center station on April 15, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

New Delhi

A closed Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) as India remains under lockdown on April 20, 2020, in New Delhi.
A closed Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) as India remains under lockdown on April 20, 2020, in New Delhi.

London

Looking east along Oxford Street from Marble Arch on April 16, 2020, in London.
Looking east along Oxford Street from Marble Arch on April 16, 2020, in London.

Los Angeles

Contrasting images of morning rush hour on the 110 freeway a week before stay-at-home orders were issued in Los Angeles, and a photo of the freeway after the orders went into effect.
Contrasting images of morning rush hour on the 110 freeway a week before stay-at-home orders were issued in Los Angeles, and a photo of the freeway after the orders went into effect.

Mexico City

A view of the almost-empty parking lot of a closed shopping center in the Santa Fe neighborhood of Mexico City on April 4, 2020.
A view of the almost-empty parking lot of a closed shopping center in the Santa Fe neighborhood of Mexico City on April 4, 2020.

Venice, Italy

Parked gondolas in a strangely desolate and silent Venice, Italy, on April 19, 2020.
Parked gondolas in a strangely desolate and silent Venice, Italy, on April 19, 2020.

Baltimore

A lone passenger sleeps in an otherwise empty Amtrak car as the train pulls into Penn Station on April 9, 2020, in Baltimore.
A lone passenger sleeps in an otherwise empty Amtrak car as the train pulls into Penn Station on April 9, 2020, in Baltimore.

New York City

A view inside Grand Central Terminal during the coronavirus pandemic on April 19, 2020 in New York City.
A view inside Grand Central Terminal during the coronavirus pandemic on April 19, 2020 in New York City.

Venice Beach, California

Venice Skate Park, partially filled with sand to deter people from skating there, on April 17, 2020.
Venice Skate Park, partially filled with sand to deter people from skating there, on April 17, 2020.

Washington, D.C.

A March 31, 2020 photo shows a vacant metro station during rush hour in Washington D.C.
A March 31, 2020 photo shows a vacant metro station during rush hour in Washington D.C.

Normandy, France

The center of Etretat, Normandy, on April 20, 2020, on the 35th day of a strict lockdown in France.
The center of Etretat, Normandy, on April 20, 2020, on the 35th day of a strict lockdown in France.

Istanbul

Roads and squares are empty in the Eminonu District of Istanbul on April 19, 2020.
Roads and squares are empty in the Eminonu District of Istanbul on April 19, 2020.

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