Americans are resilient
The recent COVID-19 developments for Southern California have been dramatic and predictable. We have seen a dangerous rise in deaths and hospitalizations. New reports indicate the virus is now also ravaging the local Los Angeles County homeless community. Once again, the county and our home city are squeezed by new lockdown measures. A lockdown that seems bound to linger well into the early weeks of 2021.
Up until late fall, California had lagged behind other large states in terms of cases and deaths per capita. Surprisingly to many, the homeless community also had not seen high rates of COVID-19 infections. It seemed in mid-October that we might be looking at bright and recovering 2021. Now we are facing months of closed bars and restaurants and a gloomy forecast for the coming weeks and months.
We all knew better, but many of us did not do better. It was predicted that the cooling temperatures would bring folks indoors and into closer contact, and it did. It was predicted that if people engaged in holiday travel that it could spread the disease, and it did. It was predicted that house parties and pop-up nightclubs would let loose a wave of infections, and it did. It was predicted that multigenerational get-togethers would lead to illnesses in the young and deaths in the elderly, and it did.
Government officials and local health organizations lectured again and again, but they never seemed to take the strong and appropriate steps that might have eased some of this oncoming emergency. Other than in the early days of the pandemic, they never inspired a sense of common purpose or urgency in the general public.
The sad part of this recent surge is that the majority of people followed the COVID-19 guidance. It has been a painful process for businesses and families alike. As I walk around the Downtown community, I generally see masks and social distancing. But the two factors our leaders forgot in all their warnings and press conferences are fairly obvious to any reasonable observer. The very kinds of people who suffer from addictions and engage in reckless behaviors do not watch the daily COVID-19 updates.
Also, in a nation founded on personal liberty and freedom of choice some people will simply do the wrong thing despite all the preaching from the governor and mayor. If this COVID-19 epidemic has shown us anything of value, it has demonstrated once again that the majority of Americans are a kind, resourceful and resilient people. It has also demonstrated that about 5% of our friends and neighbors are all too human when it comes to adhering to the needs of the community above their needs to be fulfilled for the moment. Perhaps this difficult time teaches us a valuable lesson: that both common sense and a spirit of common purpose are not as common as they should be in today’s society!