Coronavirus: what now?

The schools are closed. Some stores have closed. Public events have been cancelled. Airports are packed with people who are simply trying to get home. The Corona Virus Pandemic (Covid-19) has affected business in every sectors.

Some cable news organizations and traditional media are in many ways behaving (finally) like the journalists they profess to be. The government, and in particular, President Donald Trump, is no longer responding that the situation is minor and will disappear like magic.

Hindsight is always 20/20. And, the bitter truth is that looking backward to assess blame is a counterproductive waste of time and resources.

Another bitter truth: Every talking head at every network and cable news organization, every political pundit writing for every news organization from the New York Times to the National Enquirer to the Black Hills Pioneer, hasn’t the slightest clue what to tell their viewers, listeners and readers about how to live with the consequences of Covid-19 and our response to it.

We can’t tell you what to do to make your life better, except perhaps to wash your hands, stay home (if you can) and sneeze and cough into your elbows. We can’t tell you how to make your car payment, how to buy groceries, how to complete your schoolwork, how to find daycare for your children or how to find a job if your employer succumbs to the economic effects. We can’t tell you if it is wise to avoid your favorite restaurant or tavern.

Out here in fly-over country, we fancy ourselves tougher than the rest of America. We laugh at east coasters who become paralyzed when they get a skiff of snow. We endure without serious complaint the ravages of Mother Nature. We deal with floods, blizzards, tornados and drought. But we are perplexed, and frightened, by Covid-19. We can’t see it. Contact with your closest friend could result in your death, your friend’s death or someone else’s death, we’re told. There’s no vaccine. We have loved ones in the high-risk categories.

Social media is not helping. In fact, Social media is making matters worse. They are, intentionally or not, contributing to fear and panic. People hoarding items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and food is selfish and thoughtless. Profiteering from the sale of these items reveals the worst of who we are.

Here in South Dakota, our government will witness a short-term increase in sales tax revenue due to the panic buying at grocery and big box stores. Thereafter, however, the economic impact will be significant and perhaps devastating. Both the state and individual communities will experience a net loss in sales tax revenue.

Can anything good come from this experience? Possibly. Many of us may spend more time with family. Some will have more time with their children.

Nationally, one positive may be a leveling of the playing field for the Democratic race for the presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden debated (mano y mano) last night without a studio audience. The two debated without the chaos of screaming audiences, gasping audiences and pauses to wait for the applause to subside. In that regard, the debate was reminiscent of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate. The two discussed the issues they believe voters care about.

Little either said was particularly comforting insofar as neither appeared any better or worse prepared to deal with a health-care crisis than the current White House resident.

Michael Sanborn writes from Rapid City.

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