Dear President Trump,
You’ve probably seen them too – the pictures of people hanging out on Florida beaches seem to be everywhere. They’re typically accompanied by ‘tsk, tsk’ captions about people not honoring physical distancing guidelines and not wearing masks out in public. Those pictures are concerning, but holy moly do they not hold a candle to the picture of the partiers in the packed swimming pool in the Ozarks in the WP this afternoon. That one literally took my breath away. I instinctively, involuntarily pulled back into my chair as far away from the computer screen as I could when I saw it. And then my eyes filled with tears and I found my head shaking in a “nooooooo” sort of way, wishing that the dateline was last year this time – that it was a story about what people were doing last Memorial Day weekend and not this one, that it was a year-old picture of a hundred+ people whooping it up in close quarters.
But of course it wasn’t – no, it’s one of our very one 2020 Philadelphia Liberty Loan Parades, only worse. Back then, even though it was apparent there was a deadly flu going around the shipyards, officials in Philadelphia hadn’t yet established a quarantine (see: https://fullfact.org/online/1918-philadelphia-parade-fact-checked/) when the decision was made to let the parade take place. The quarantine would be put in effect two or three days later, but in the meantime, the parade was a way of supporting the war effort since war bonds were hawked all along the route. Philadelphia needed to sell a certain number of bonds and the parade was their traditional way of getting the job done; the 1918 parade was the 4th edition (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/philadelphia-threw-wwi-parade-gave-thousands-onlookers-flu-180970372/). Of course, the Liberty Loan folks undoubtedly stood to make many a pretty penny from whatever bonds were sold that day, so it was almost certainly not just a magnanimous, patriotic gesture on their part of go ahead with the parade.
Approximately 200,000 people were in attendance that day and within a month, 12,000 Philadelphians were dead from the flu.
Fast forward almost 102 years and we surely have many more times that number of people engaging in similarly dangerous gatherings across the country this long weekend. There may not be a single, horribly huge gathering like the PLL Parade going on anywhere in the country, but we have enough people throwing caution (and reason) to the wind that in a month, we’ll be seeing surges in the death count that will almost certainly be far worse than Philadelphia saw all those years ago.
I said up above that all these contemporary mini PPL parades are worse than the original one and in case you aren’t following my logic in saying that, I want to be crystal clear that all these “f*ck you” gatherings are worse because everyone over the age of 5 who’s not in a vegative state knows the public health guidance regarding covid-19. Even if their state has officially eased up or has completely lifted stay at home orders, we all know about physical distancing and masks and so we can’t claim ignorance in a few weeks when the number of infections and deaths spike again. Yes, some people might finally wake up to the freaking fact that they can’t listen to you or their renegade (largely GOP) governors when they get horribly sick and when some of their family members and friends with whom they shared mai tais have died of covid, but sadly hundreds of thousands of your followers will refuse to connect the dots and will not allow that you endangered them. They will not admit that before you headed out to play golf and just before we hit 100,000 covid-related deaths, you gave false assurances to goose the economy back on line and their loved ones’ paid for it with their lives.
May we be safe from our POTUS.
May we be willing to hold tight and not do what we need to not do.
May we get that taking care, real care, is a sign of strength.
May we somehow accept that a lot of us are not on board with reality and might never be.