LIVING WITH COVID
By C.C. Campbell-Rock
Will we be stupid or smart? It’s been clear for some time: We are on our own when it comes to surviving the coronavirus pandemic. The occupant in the Oval Office said as much recently when asked if he was concerned that more than 170,000 Americans had died from COVID-19. “It is what it is,” Trump said. Also, during a coronavirus task force meeting in the Situation Room in March 2020, Trump reportedly asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, “Why don’t we let this wash over the country?” according to the Washington Post.
Six months into this pandemic, Trump has done nothing to help Americans survive. He’s refused to implement a national testing plan, and he is still saying the virus will disappear. A cynical person might think that Trump is just a racist. And since 40-60 percent of people affected by the coronavirus are people of color, then COVID-19 is inconsequential to the President. Others may look upon Trump’s denial and refusal to act as plain stupidity because COVID-19 does not discriminate. “It has no eyes,” as VP nominee Kamala Harris says. As such, a great number of white Americans are dying from the coronavirus too.
Surveying the coronavirus landscape, it’s clear that Americans are falling into one of two categories, stupid or smart. Those who are stupid are refusing to listen and follow the guidelines set by health experts. Some of them consider not wearing a mask as a First Amendment right.
However, smart people are doing what is necessary to survive and to avoid becoming infected by any means necessary.
Republicans Blindly Follow Trump’s Lead
Interestingly, Republican lawmakers, governors, and others in the GOP are following Trump’s lead. They are making policies that only “recommend” safety measures. Many refuse to wear masks too. And they are getting infected. Republican stalwart, Herman Cain, died from the virus after attending a Trump in-person rally in Tulsa. Stupid.
Recent news reports confirmed that Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy has the coronavirus. He is a doctor. But like the rest of the sycophants, he has remained silent while Trump has done nothing to protect him or his constituents. Stupid.
And following the wishes of Louisiana’s Republican-led Legislature, Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has rolled back protections in an earlier emergency voting plan that allowed most people to vote absentee in the midst of this deadly pandemic. Stupidity with a purpose. Ardoin’s plan is a voter suppression tactic that has prompted civil rights group to file federal lawsuits and Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards to refuse to sign the plan. Are we stupid or smart about COVID and elections?
Gov Edwards Steadfast
“I want to be crystal clear: you should not mistake me declaring an emergency for this election as approving of the Secretary of State’s election plan, because I do not. I believe that we need emergency procedures in place for this election. I do not believe the Secretary of State’s current plan goes far enough, because it does not take into account the seriousness of this global pandemic and the health and safety of the voters. Simply put voting should not be a super spreader event,” Edwards said during an August 20, press conference.
“This puts all of us at risk. From our poll workers to our voters, people must have the confidence that they can safely vote. We need to find a healthy solution that works for people and also for the health of our democracy. We had an election plan for the past two smaller elections. It worked by expanding early voting but also allowing for an expansion of absentee mail in voting. That we wouldn’t continue this for November’s election – the highest profile one of the year – makes absolutely zero sense to me,” Governor Edwards added. Smart.
Community Groups Work For Us
The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice’s executive director, Ashely Shelton sees Ardoin’s plan as an act of voter suppression. Smart.
Ardoin’s GOP-pushed plan offers no expansion of absentee voting for people with conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus or people who are in self-quarantine because of virus exposure. Will we be stupid or smart about COVID and elections?
It also cuts the early voting period from 13 days to 10. Louisiana’s early voting period has traditionally been one week.
“I do think it basically causes voter suppression because if you have underlying conditions or are predisposed to this virus, how can you possibly vote in this election,” Shelton told WAFB9. “The idea that we are not willing to offer people every possible way to access and pathway to their vote, I find that to be unfortunate and unfair.” The Power Coalition was joined by the NAACP, and four state residents, who say the plan creates a situation where voters are “forced to choose between risking their lives and the lives of others or not exercising their right to vote at all.” Smart.
Alison Prendergast, a cancer survivor, and Metairie resident (where Cassidy has an office)voted by mail this summer. Her doctor told her to self-isolate. Prendergast took issue with Ardoin’s plan which states, “Voters will be strongly encouraged to wear protective face coverings, but they will not be turned away from the polls for failure to wear them.”
“The rights of people who are ill are being attacked by the people who don’t want to wear a mask to carry out their constitutional right to vote,” Prendergast told WWL-TV Reporter Paul Murphy. Prendergast articulated what many people know; that people who don’t wear masks don’t have a right to endanger the lives of their fellow citizens. Smart.
Mayor Cantrell Keeps Mask Requirement
Here in New Orleans, where masks and social distances are mandatory, we still see people cavorting around neighborhoods without masks. Many of those guilty of not wearing masks are black people. Now that it’s reported that blacks, browns, and indigenous people are at a higher risk for contracting this deadly disease, if you are black or any other person of color and you don’t wear a mask, you’re stupid.
Thankfully, we have caring and smart officials in New Orleans who have decided to follow the science and health experts.
“You’ve heard me say over and over again throughout this crisis that what happens next depends on what we do right now. Right now: we’re in the fight. Right now: we’re called upon to work harder and to work smarter. Because what we do right now will define New Orleans for the next three hundred years. We’re moving forward into that future, and we’re moving forward together,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said during her State of New Orleans address. Will we be stupid or smart about COVID and elections?
In the meantime, we need a federal plan to contain the virus. Pass the Heroes Act. Fund our postal service, small businesses, farmers. Help unemployed people, and seniors got the necessary financial disaster relief they need to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. Then we could hold on until our scientists find the healing treatments needed to save lives.
Stopping the loss of life and containing the virus comes down to leadership at the local, state, and federal level. We the people can’t do it alone.
Polls taken by various entities suggest that Coronavirus is among the top concerns for voters. Given the way Trump has (or not) handled the pandemic causes stress. Voters must rise above the voter suppression tactics Trump has brazenly put forth. They include moving polling places and voter roll purges. Also dumping mail sorting machines, cutting back on postal workers’ overtime, ripping post office boxes from the streets. Electing Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Jr. and V-P Nominee Kamala Harris and voting Republicans out of office up and down the ticket is the smartest thing we can do.
Biden and Harris are ready with plans to contain COVID-19, raise the minimum wage, build infrastructure, deal with climate change, reduce student debt and higher education costs, make dreamers citizens, reform immigration, address racial inequalities, reform police departments, protect the rule of law, strengthen unions, and expand the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.
So, we have a choice. Will we choose to be stupid or smart?