More Incalculability in 2021

Does anyone remember this cover of the New York Times? I sure do.

The precise date that COVID-19 arrived on these shores might never be known, but the first known death from the virus occured on February 6, not quite one year ago.

At that time, our government was busy telling us that everything was under control, or that the common flu was much deadlier than the coronavirus. I remember distinctly, before the proverbial shit started to hit the fan in March of 2020, these claims being made by a president who plainly disregarded the threat. He knew how dangerous it was when he spoke to Bob Woodward, but to the rest of us he, as he himself said, “played down” what the virus could actually do to the people of this country.

By the time Memorial Day weekend rolled around, we didn’t hear any more comparisons to influenza. 100,000 death was a shocking number, equivalent to 33 terrorist attacks of 9/11 proportions, and more than the number of American battle deaths in any war besides the Civil War and World War II. And all of that in just four short months. I wrote about the death toll at that time, with clearly no clue how bad things were going to get.

And now, in just the 33rd day of this new year, we Americans have lost another 100,000 of our parents, friends, colleagues, and neighbors to COVID-19. A staggering number have been ushered into the next world. before they were ready to leave. The word “incalculable” was used by the Times eight short months ago, and it still applies today, as the losses continue piling up.

The virus cost Donald Trump re-election, but that does nothing to slow the spread of the suffering in this country. The virus doesn’t care who is in charge, it just continues to spread. And now there are several variants that have been identified in this country as well, further complicating the effort to get things under control.

I hope and pray that the greatest suffering is now behind us, but that seems naive at this point. Are a million deaths the endpoint of all this? And would that even be enough to convince the anti-maskers? If anything, they seem to be getting even more insistent. Until they contact the virus themselves, that is.

Where is all of this going to end? I don’t know, but the trendlines right now are not promising. And this new year’s 100,000 casualties likely won’t be the last time I write about this, either.

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