The numbers in Texas today for COVID-19 infections are staggering. As of now, Thursday June 11th, 2020, the news out of Austin reports a 41% increase over the past two weeks in cases, with an 11% drop in people getting tested. A lot of us saw it coming. People continued to take it lightly. We watched as restaurants opened, most of them careful to allow only a few people, wear masks, take extra precautions above and beyond the suggested measures. But no one really knew how this would play out, despite the masks, hand washing, social distancing, and limited crowds.

People headed to the beaches, continued to hang out at closer distances on outside patios and parks and art markets, and they became infected.
Everywhere I went I saw very few masks and even then people were wearing them incorrectly, with noses exposed or the entire mask pulled down on the neck. Elderly people weren’t wearing them at all. I felt like an alien.

We’re dealing with an insidious organic microscopic invasion with an agenda all its own. This isn’t ‘just the flu’ and contracting it isn’t preventable in many situations. There is one thing we can all count on, though: People will continue to become infected, and more people will die. Banking on those two standard truths, is it more important to get out and party with friends or is it crucial that we all continue to fully distance ourselves from others unless absolutely necessary? I completely agree that restaurants, movie theaters, music venues, bars and other public businesses need to reopen and do well to stay alive but we desperately need to find a better way of managing this.

After doctors’ offices repopened, I made an appointment for a teeth cleaning. Over the phone I was told exactly what to expect: Once I arrived, call them from my car and an attendant will meet me at my car window wearing a mask. If I didn’t have a mask (I did) they would give me one. Then I was to come inside and wait in the lobby, and WOULD BE THE ONLY ONE THERE. They were VERY careful to only have one person in the lobby at a time. Then a hygienist lead me into the examining room. She had on a mask, gloves, a body apron, and a face shield. I was thinking how incredibly uncomfortable and hot that must be, having to wear it all day. But she was pleasant, conversational, and she put me at ease explaining all that was about to happen.

That was the best teeth cleaning I’d ever had; she was thorough in her presentation and her technique. My feeling of how ‘right’ this experience became was off the charts. Everything was well orchestrated and planned out way ahead of time. The entire staff was thoughtful and gracious. When the dentist came in to talk about the x-rays, he wore a mask and spoke with compassion and professionalism. That became one of the best dental experiences of my life.

If we could just get all the public venues and staff to follow this basic albeit slightly uncomfortable pattern, we might once again flatten the curve. Worldwide, almost half a million people have died. The United States alone is leading by almost THREE TIMES the death rate of the second-top-mortality country, Brazil, carrying the casualties of over 25% of the world’s mortality from COVID-19. THAT’S INSANE. We opened up too soon, those in authority didn’t give a damn about human life – they only wanted the economy to gear back up. The economy will be fine; it always is. Dead people cannot come back to life.

We have to care about each other as deeply as we care for our families. It’ll take an entire nation to quell the abject ignorance we are seeing with this pandemic. It’s the only way we’ll save lives and begin a new Age of Reason.

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash