Where to begin? The virus seemed to appear suddenly. Without warning we were in quarantine and wearing masks and cancelling all our haircuts, elective surgeries, church worship services, face to face visits with friends, handshakes and hugs. Gone. I am amazed at how easily we stepped into this new life. It wasn't what we wanted, but we knew it had to be. Because we could have church on the radio and live streamed, our pastor held worship to an empty church. Two other people and myself were the only ones in the sanctuary. I sat way to the back on one side as pastor delivered her message to an empty room. I did a funeral graveside with 6 people. No large gatherings allowed. Weddings are streamed to family and friends. Vacations to Europe are cancelled. The big cruise ships that were everywhere have been docked when they became floating virus breeders.
As the time progressed we have grown to accept most everything that has come our way, for the most part. There is now a vocal minority prompted by Trump that carries around loaded machine guns, demands businesses open and bad mouths any idea of a vaccine. Closed churches have suddenly become a cry for "religious rights" from people who mostly could care less about God's house and living the life we are called to live as God's people. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Washington and several other states have been real leaders in dealing with the pandemic in their own States and thus being effective for the rest of the country.
Shortages have been one negative of the quarantine. The first to go was toilet paper -- yes! Toilet paper. I walked into the grocery store and went to the toilet paper aisle -- empty shelves!! I really was amazed. People figured they might have to be quarantined for two weeks and they wanted to be sure they had plenty of what they needed. After a few weeks, investigative reporters told us there is tp for home and there is tp for work. Because no one was going to school (all online classes) and most people were working from home, the industrial tp was not being used and you cannot convert from industrial to home quality easily. Now we have tp for the most part, but it has taken awhile AND you do not take a supply of tp for granted. Ramen noodles, frozen pizza, white flour, yeast, and eggs have all at one time or another been on the missing list for a variety of reasons.
The worst shortages came when the U.S. realized we were unprepared for a medical emergency such as this and medical personnel were without gowns, masks and ventilators to help those in distress. The virus affected the lungs so ventilators were a must. Hospital emergency rooms and wards were full to overflowing and there were not enough nurses and doctors to stay alert to all those in distress. It was a medical super emergency. Lots of people were making masks, sewing them to help hospitals and other agencies where people were in need of protection.
The food supply chain has been stretched pretty thin the past couple of months. Major corona virus break-outs have occurred in meat packing plants across the nation. Many of these plants have been staffed by low wage, immigrant groups or large scale black or Latino populations. One word was in a plant in Sioux Falls SD there were 15 languages spoken. The virus has hit hardest in areas of high population density and is hard of people who are fragile elderly or anyone with pre-existing conditions. Because the food chain is being messed with, the chain has broken to the point of food surpluses being destroyed just as in the 1930s. Milk dumped on the ground, animals slaughtered rather then provided for sale. And everything is predicated on a chain that no longer exists or at least is broken. Food pantries are in high demand, many people are going hungry because they have no pay checks.
Within the more densely populated states nursing homes, Veterans' homes and prisons have had high numbers of deaths. State governors have been trying to get tests going. Tests are in short supply. Testing allows medical personnel to trace the virus, place folks in quarantine and hospitalize when necessary. So right now we are waiting for a vaccine which may take up to a year to produce and wear masks when we go out, state in when we can, and wash our hands and use a sanitizer.
The pandemic is world wide. France, Spain and Italy were hard hit. India is very bad. It started in Wuhan, China and then began to travel with people who were traveling. When the virus hit the U.S. it had a European DNA but that only meant it had been traveling for a time. People can be carriers and not be sick. The U.S. has the most cases, over a million and drawing more deaths daily. The disease started to appear in larger numbers in February. Some people in Glendive wonder if they had it earlier which could well have been. We would have said they were very sick with the flu. They were in the hospital with pneumonia and have had a difficult time getting strength and energy back.
The Federal government has been less than helpful. At first they tried to pretend the virus didn't exist, then when they could no longer do that, they said it would go away -- like magic. When there were medical shortages, the governors were told to take care of it themselves and figure it out. Then when some governors managed to get the supplies they needed the Federal Government hijacked them and took the supplies!! Trump is worried about the upcoming presidential election as are we all. Biden is the candidate apparent for the Democrats, because everyone else dropped out. Some elections were cancelled because of the virus. There is a real call for mail in voting these days and many are hopeful this can be a reality, although the Republicans say if they do it the Democratics will win because it is a way they can cheat.
Another effect of the virus and the shut down has been a huge rise in unemployment. There are more people claiming unemployment then did during the Great Depression of the 1930s. There has also been a drop in oil prices at the same time so many are out of work in that area. For Glendive the railroad round house closed and 85 people were transferred. This hit the economy of the town so hard. Most concern is for small, independently owned businesses like restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. They don't know if people will come out as they once did and no place that opens is allowed to pack the bar -- too many people -- too great a chance for the virus to pass around. No concert venues, movie theaters, sports events, tourist events and on and on it goes.
Where will it end, nobody knows.