Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

A 2020 Bedtime Story

October 10, 2020

Once upon a time, there was a land threatened by a new and unknown plague.

Informed of this threat, the president convened a team of expert medical advisors. Then he called a meeting with the leaders of the two main political parties, all of whom went on TV together calling on the nation to unite and fight this threat, the way they fought fascism in WW2 and terrorism after 9/11.

The leaders wore masks—mostly red-white-and-blue masks, although one spunky left-wing politician wore a mask saying “Medicare for All” and am equally fervent right-wing politician wore one saying “Protect Life.” Together they warned that we would all face sacrifices, but inconvenient steps like wearing masks and sheltering at home were better than losing neighbors and loved ones to this illness.

The president pressured factories to shift production quickly to protective equipment, and directed that equipment to frontline workers. Pop-up clinics with free testing and free groceries were set up in low-income neighborhoods. The Department of Education rushed big grants to school districts to ensure that all children had computers, Internet, and tutoring help while classes were temporarily moved online.

Masks became the hot collectible of the year, with the First Lady sporting masks by Versace and Gucci, the NRA selling Second Amendment masks, and pop stars promoting masks with the cover of their latest album.

Public sentiment was so unified and clear that even libertarians grudgingly wore masks. Viral rates remained low enough that it was possible to re-open schools safely in the fall. The winter was challenging, with everyone sick of sheltering in place, but the president and his counterparts from the other party returned to TV to praise Americans’ commitment and urge everyone to stay the course. Pharmaceutical companies worked steadily to develop vaccines under supervision of non-partisan FDA regulators, and leaders of both parties stepped forward together—again on TV—to take the first doses and encourage others to be vaccinated.

Decades later, seniors who were children at the time would recall the Plague Year as a time of family togetherness and neighbors helping each other. Those who drove cross-country on family camping vacations would remember their parents exchanging elbow-bumps with other grown-ups, their eyes conveying smiles of greeting over AOC and Ted Cruz masks.

Fewer than 10,000 people in a population of 300 million died. Reporters from around the world flocked to this land to see how they did it. Proud of its success, the country shared its knowledge and worked with drug companies to provide vaccine at minimal cost to less wealthy parts of the world.

“It’s just the neighborly way to live,” said an Ohio machinist interviewed by a reporter for The Guardian. “Big city or small town, black or white, red or blue state, we’re all in this together.”

Okay, kids, that’s all for now! Time to sleep. I’ll tell you another fairy tale tomorrow night, after I finish writing my latest batch of Vote-for-Joe-Biden postcards.