NOTES, 18 JANUARY 2021
Welcome, blog reader on Monday, January 18, 2021. It is Martin Luther King Day, a moment of special importance for us southerners. Every time I go through the Black Belt of Alabama, and cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I am flooded with memories of our painful past but ever so grateful for the heroes, as Blessed Jonathan Daniels, who sacrificed all to diminish the evil of racism among us. This war is not over, not by a long way, as the events of 6 January jarringly reminded us. Nevertheless, now it is time for our weekly check-in on the crises at hand. First, the pandemic.
PANDEMIC. The plague of COVID-19 is ever worsening. Experts predict it will continue to worsen for another couple of months at least.
According to our usual source, Worldometers, we are approaching one hundred million cases in the world. As of this morning it is listing 95,553,772, a rise of 5,000,000 in the past week. This means the disease spread by 10% in just the past two weeks, 20% since Christmas. Deaths in the world are still running at 5% increase. 96,528 people in the world died in the plague last week for a total of 2,041,239. Thus, more than two million people died in the past year of this one disease.
America continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic as it has been all along. This is a national shame and disgrace for the richest and supposedly most technologically advanced society in the world. Last week, the U.S. reported 1,564,716 new cases for a total of 24,482,050. In just the last two weeks, the disease has spread by 15%, 50% in the last month. Deaths in America are equally shocking. The number now stands over 400,000 (407,202). 23,927 Americans died of the plague last week, 80,000 in the past month. We have all seen the sorrowful pictures of overflowing hospitals and make-shift morgues. Experts say this situation will continue and worsen. We can expect the death number to hit half a million in the next month. At this rate, this plague is on track to match or exceed the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-19 when 600,000 Americans died.
The figures for our local states are no more reassuring. In South Carolina, the rate of the spread has decreased but the rate of deaths has increased. Last week, SC reported 23,659 new cases, for a total of 388,184, a rising rate of 7%, below the 12% of the earlier week. However, in the last month, the disease has spread by 50% in SC. Deaths continue to climb. Last week, 426 South Carolinians died of covid, up 7%, for a total of 6,237. In the last months, deaths in SC have climbed by 30%.
Charleston County continues to reporting mounting numbers. Last week, it listed 2,075 new cases, a rising rate of 8%, for a total of 29,042. Six months ago, this number was what the entire state of SC reported. In just the last month, cases have grown by 30%. As for deaths, the county reported 17 last week, for a total of 352. This is a steadily rising death rate of 5%.
Alabama is faring no better. It reported 20,598 new cases, a rising rate of 5%, for a total of 422,598. This means that nearly 10% of the state has contracted the coronavirus. In the last month, 100,000 Alabamians have been hit with the virus, a 30% increase. The death rate is also alarming. Last week, a staggering 786 people in Alabama died in the plague, for a total of 6,120. In the last months, deaths from the coronavirus have nearly doubled in Alabama. Clearly, the pandemic is racing out of control in our southern states, as in practically the rest of the U.S.
The vaccines have been available for a month now and the distribution has been mixed, to say the least. Since there is no national plan, the local states and counties have been on their own to administer the vaccine. I would describe my local area as controlled chaos. It is being offered to everyone over 75 but with no orderly process. Yet, only about 10% of people over 75 have been able to get vaccinated. I know first hand, the state of Mississippi is even worse. There, the local officials offered it to everyone over 65, first come first serve. Pandemonium was quickly followed by exhaustion of the supply. The state is awaiting new shipments. Phone lines and computer systems have crashed everywhere as people desperately seek guidance on how to get the vaccine. Again, we see national shame in our response to the pandemic.
It is clear we are in the depths of this pandemic. The problem is we do not know how much deeper the depth will get before the the plague starts to abate. I fear we still have months to go and countless more cases and deaths to endure. May God help us in our hour of emergency.
LITIGATION. Out of sight for some time now is the litigation in the schism in South Carolina. Actually, matters are on hold as they have been for more than two months. Right now we are awaiting the responding brief to the SCSC of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina in the Episcopal Diocese's appeal of Judge Dickson's ruling. To my knowledge ADSC has not filed its brief. I can only assume they have obtained time extensions. The Episcopal Diocese filed its brief more than two months ago (Nov. 12). Typically, the other side has 30 days to respond. ADSC got one extension so I assume they got another. If it were another 30 day extension, this would put a due date of Feb. 12. Remember that ADSC's tactic for the last three and a half years has been deny and delay, so what is happening now is no surprise. ADSC lost in both state and federal court. They denied the state loss and threw up every roadblock possible to delay the outcome. They even got a friendly local judge to go along with them to deny the state supreme court ruling. The federal court is also on hold as the appeals court granted a stay pending a decision of the SC supreme court. So, we are waiting, waiting. After eight years of legal warfare, we should be used to this by now.
POLITICAL. I am waiting to exhale. We have two more days to go. Apparently, President Trump will not try some cataclysmic Wagnerian flaming twilight of the gods. My guess is he will issue a flurry of pardons to everyone around him, maybe to the insurrections of Jan. 6, and maybe to himself. Who knows. Nothing should surprise us after four years.
Joe Biden is to be sworn in as the new president on Wednesday at 12 noon. I will be glued to my TV. A new era will begin. However, we still have to deal with the awful remains of the Trump tornado. For starters, the Senate will have to conduct a trial of Trump since he has been impeached by the House. It is an open question of whether he will be convicted. 17 Republican Senators would have to join the 50 Democrats, a tall order.
At the same time, and perhaps even more importantly, the nation must confront white supremacy. We must prosecute the insurrectionists of Jan. 6. We must subject domestic terrorist groups to legal scrutiny. This will be a major problem for the country, but one that must be handled.
Finally, let us all pray for our country. We are in a bad place, the worst political and health crises in memory, I would argue since the Civil War. The nation is badly and dangerously divided. The very structure and integrity of our constitutional, democratic republic is at stake. This is not hyperbole. As always, keep in mind we were put here for the living of this hour. It is our mission and our faith is our calling. Peace.