COVID-19: Nobody Knows Anything

Frank CagleFrank Talk

How will we know when it’s over? Will someone come to the podium and announce that it’s time to go back to work, open the schools, go down to the pub and celebrate with your friends?

White House guru Dr. Tony Fauci says it won’t happen, that the process will be gradual and take a long time. To which President Trump retweeted a post with the hashtag “FireFauci.”

If there is an announcement will it be Trump? Or Gov. Bill Lee?

Frank Cagle

If there is an announcement, will you believe it? Just who do you believe? William Goldman wrote a book about the movies with the title “Nobody Knows Anything.” Confusion is understandable. We are dealing with the Coronavirus for the first time and learning has been incremental.

But as recently as 10 days ago we were being repeatedly told we didn’t need to wear a mask. A universal decree from the Coronavirus task force, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Now we are told it is essential if we go outside.

Anyone who has had surgery or draconian treatments in hospital knows that everybody wears a mask. Doctors, nurses, visitors, family members. To suggest that a mask was not needed or that it might be a bad thing if not fitted properly was just a lie. It was explained that they had to save the masks for health care workers. Does that inspire confidence?

Computer models have told us that 2.2 million Americans will die. But no, actually it’s 200,000 people. OK, maybe it’s 60,000. Nobody Knows Anything.

Partisan fighting hasn’t been set aside for the duration of the crisis. When Trump banned travel from China, he was called a bigot and a xenophobe. Then when the virus took hold, he was criticized for not acting quickly enough. Calling it the Wuhan Virus or suggesting it started in China was suddenly banned as racist. I guess we need to go back and rename the Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed 50 million people. Leave it to liberals, in the middle of an epidemic that’s killing people, to be concerned about political correctness and not offending China.

But I think it’s important to remember that China hid the seriousness of the disease and the doctor who announced its discovery “disappeared.” That has nothing to do with Chinese-Americans.

And that travel ban from China? The New York Times says 40,000 people have traveled here from China since the travel “ban.”

One of the things that is maddening to people in flyover country? Tucked into the 1,200-page virus relief bill was a $25 million appropriation for the Kennedy Center, the performance hall for Washington galas.

Given social distancing, the hall will remain shut down for some time to come and the center laid off 60 percent of its workers. Could that money have been used to buy ventilators instead of being deposited in the account of an organization with a $100 million endowment?

Republicans have been criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who serves on the center board. But Trump told Real Clear Politics he was OK with it. Maybe because the board also contains three of his cabinet members: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Meanwhile, Trump threatens to veto the current virus relief bill if it includes any funds for the post office, which is getting killed by the virus. (Direct mail advertising revenue has dried up, for instance.) A weakened, bankrupt postal service will be easier to privatize.

Americans are making sacrifices every day, especially doctors and nurses and first responders who are risking their lives. People are out of work and desperate to pay rent and mortgages. But in the Swamp that is Washington, D.C., nothing ever changes.

What’s the difference? TVA is criticized for paying its CEO $8 million a year and the agency always comes back with the argument that it’s not taxpayer money. I guess I don’t see a distinction between screwing the taxpayers as opposed to screwing electricity customers by buying expensive jets and overpaying top executives.

Who knew? State Rep. John DeBerry is a Memphis Democrat who has served in the legislature for 26 years. Imagine his surprise when he was told last week that he isn’t really a Democrat and that he is being thrown off the ballot for the Democratic primary. The state executive committee ruled 41-18 that the veteran Democrat gets contributions from Republicans and votes for Republican bills. He will likely gather some friends for support and appeal the decision. But given the margin of the vote, it doesn’t appear likely he will be successful.

Frank Cagle is a veteran newspaper editor and columnist.


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