I Can’t Keep Counting Coronavirus Numbers….

Mar 23, 2020 by

As I have been doing the past weeks, I can’t bring myself to post coronavirus numbers everyday. My psyche no longer has the will. I’m not giving up on the situation, but the situation is having its toll on me. A few nights ago before going to bed in Texas, I heard the news about California sheltering in place or “Stay At Home,” as they’re calling it. I shut off the TV after that. Drained.

For nearly all of my adult life, I’ve had positions where putting the best foot forward about a situation has been my job, and I have done it faithfully and honestly. I’ve driven from my home to the offices of the Alabama Capitol in blizzard conditions as far back as 1993 (and even further back) to get information to the news media that their governor at the time was doing what needed to be done. I’ve done this repeatedly for the Dallas ISD for snow storms in Dallas, Hurricane Katrina refugees from New Orleans arriving by the busload, to encouraging a portion of Dallas that after a middle school student was stabbed seven times after school one day and the killer still on the loose for much of the next day, that it was still safe for their parents to send their kids to school. Only seven missed school that day–and we knew where one of them was, sadly. I’ve fought back tears while talking to the press when first graders leaned on the front of a lunch portable counter and when it tipped over on top of them, the boiling hot water in the bin underneath to keep the food warm rushed out on top of them. At the time, I had two first grader twins myself, and I could only imagine, cos hanging on to the unhinged counter’s front tray rails to look over the glass to see what food choices they had, was something my girls would have done, too.

I’ve ridden through eight miles of the aftermath of an F-5 tornado in Birmingham, AL in 1998 and seen a husband and wife couple still lying next to each other on their mattress while the edge of the house has come down on their knees and the only thing visible of them is their lower legs and feet.

All those events, in their time were draining. But I was charged with keeping the stiff upper lip and being the cheerleader. The positive voice on TV, radio and on the pages of newspapers saying, “We are doing all we can to get everyone in the state/area/county/city/block/school you name it, the help they need. From shelters, electricity back on, dug out of the snow, roads reopened, flood waters down, droughts to end, hurricane shelters, beds in coliseums, to ensuring greater numbers of police will be patrolling schools,” I’ve done much of all those things.

These are some of the most beautiful times in life, too. Rewarding times to be a public servant, because of all the tabletop exercises, planning, gathering of materials skeptics said you’d never need, etc. all of that comes together, and people who have been political pains in the ass, are in just as much need, or are expending just as much genuine effort to do goodness, that it is enriching. Sure, there are always those who can’t get away from the chance to seek a political score, but in the end, their selfishness tends to get dealt with later.

Those were the times when a Democrat president called a Republican governor and the call was appreciated. Federal aid flowed to the state. “The VP is coming in a day or two. (You are a Republican after all.) But we have signed the papers freeing up funds that you need. If you need anything else, call us.” After another storm a few months later, Air Force One lands in Birmingham. It’s the Office of the President that’s landing. Not the man. And then it is the man, who expresses his concerns.

Former Alabama Gov. Fob James on the telephone with President Bill Clinton in April 1998 after having toured the damages of an 8-mile stretch from an F-5 tornado. Yes, that’s me with black hair.

Years later we are seeing this in America. Our healthcare professionals are doing their job, risking their lives, living up to the word of their oaths to be there to help those who are ill, those who may have contracted the illness, who are dying from it, who may have it passed on to them if they’re not careful, or just by chance. Democratic governors are praising the efforts from the White House. For the past few years that’s been verboten. For the time being, for the most part, the governors across the country seem to have dialed that down. (Sans Bill de Blasio.)

In Congress and the Senate, some of the partisan bickering remains. Yesterday Senate Majority Leader said that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thinks she the Speaker of the Senate, too. That’s infuriating. But if Ilan Omar can come up with kind words for the president’s vigilance in this time, well, then that’s a good thing. That’s what is supposed to happen in times like these.

For the longest time, I wanted the press to get past the repeated use of the words Russians, the dossier, stole the election, illegitimate, resistance, James Comey, Bob Mueller, the Mueller Report, Impeachment, calling witnesses, not really a trial, acquitted, and forever impeached. Coronavirus has eaten them all up. Sucked them out of the vocabulary of the talking heads. If only it could have taken the hate with it because it is clear that has not happened.

I wish I could be parachuted into an operation right now that’s working to save lives and making a difference doing it. I miss being able to do that in crisis situations. That was when I felt like I was doing my best work for the people of Alabama, and then the Dallas school district, and then hundreds of high-risk teenagers around the country. I finally know what the general in the movie White Christmas must have felt like when he received his rejection letter after asking the Pentagon to let him return to active duty.

But alas, my back and other health conditions won’t ever allow that kind of activity again. So each day I’m trying to find a new way to make an impact. Hence the frequent posts of the Johns Hopkins numbers. People are saying the straight-forward analysis is very helpful. That helps to hear. Thank you to those who have said so. I hope it continues to be beneficial for you to see the numbers often and see how they’re changing. They sure have opened my eyes.

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