Wednesday, July 22, 2020

NOTES --- JULY 22, 2020

Greetings, blog reader, on this Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The overriding news of the day is the continuing rapid spread of the coronavirus, particularly in South Carolina, now one of the hottest spots in the United States which is the world's epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rise of numbers in July is alarming. On July 1, three weeks ago, South Carolina listed 36,399 reported cases and 739 deaths. As of this morning, SC is listing 73,337 cases and 1,221 deaths. So, in just the last three weeks, the reported cases in SC have doubled while deaths have climbed 65%. The state health department is estimating the actual number of cases in SC at 522,150. This translates to 11% of the state's population. Clearly, the virus is surging out of control in SC.

Charleston County continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the state. In just the last two weeks, reported cases there have increased from 6,073 to 9,778, a 61% rise. However, the state health department is now estimating the actual case count in Charleston Co. at 69,843, or more than ten times the reported number. It is clear, the disease is spreading rapidly in the Charleston area, and quicker than in the rest of the state.

Of course, SC is not alone in this health emergency. Florida is now reportedly the hottest spot in the entire world. The disease is hopelessly out of control in south Florida where there are more cases and deaths in Miami-Dade than in most countries. In fact, all of the southeastern states, plus Texas, Arizona, and California are showing alarming increases in COVID-19. This month, Alabama jumped from 45,785 cases to 70,255, a 53% increase while death numbers climbed from 1,033 to 1,301.

The data show us that the pandemic is rapidly worsening, particularly in the southern tier of America. What are the national and local political authorities doing about this? Their response fluctuates between nothing and chaos. There is no national leadership. Much of our local leadership is equally incompetent. Even something as simple as a mask has become politicized. Something more complicated, as schools, is nothing but anarchy. It is clear that the pandemic will only worsen until we get a vaccine, and that will probably not appear before next year. We have at least six months to go. You can do your own figuring to see where this is heading and how things will look at Christmas.

Meanwhile, we Americans are facing an upcoming national election in just three and a half months. President Trump is up for reelection. He is the subject of the day, whether to give him four more years or remove him. The polls today are predicting a landslide defeat for Trump and his party. My theory is that times have changed and most Americans are rejecting Trump's peculiar form of divide and conquer politics. What worked four years ago will not work today. Four years ago there was no common enemy to force a diverse America together. Trump very cleverly exploited the divisions in American society, particularly racial, to bring out enough resentful voters to give him success in the Electoral College. Now, the mood of the country is different. The virus is the national enemy now and is forcing the country to unite in its deadly face. The country longs for strong leadership through this unique health crisis. 

Trump has provided none. In fact, he is resorting to the only approach he knows. He is doubling down on his politics of division, especially of race. The country is rejecting this, as reflected in the polls. His reaction is to take even more extreme measures. He is employing secret police, without identification and marked vehicles, to take control of well-known Democratically-controlled cities. This is shocking, not to mention unconstitutional. He has also said very publicly that he may not accept the results of the election. This means he is contemplating an attempt to void the election by use of power and remain in the White House. If this happens, the U.S. will enter its worst crisis since the Civil War. Trump's many critics see him, and not the virus, as the greatest danger to the nation.

We are in a dark hour. Let us not try to pretend otherwise. It is best to know the truth even if it hurts because truth leads to wisdom. In this awful night of darkness, we must not stumble into despair. In the darkest of times, there is always the hope, and expectation, of a better day. This is what our faith tells us. We need look no farther than the example of the late John Lewis for a life based entirely on the belief in a better day. I can assure you Alabama is a vastly different, and improved, place than it was eight decades ago when he was born to a sharecropper in the backwoods of southeastern Alabama.