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Floating in a sea of confusion

June 30th, 2020 by Kenneth Abrahams

Lockdown, Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 467, a new normal, it is all making the little hair that I have left hurt. There is no way to keep up with it. From day one, this whole pandemic has left me and many others in a state of confusion. In mid-March, Massachusetts, like pretty much every other state, shut down except for essential businesses and that is where the confusion started. Hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, and even home improvement stores being open made sense, but you lost me when liquor stores were open but the recreational pot shops were closed. So, one chemical coping mechanism is essential but another isn’t. As someone explained, detoxing alcoholics wind up in the hospital while someone that likes to smoke marijuana may just be a little cranky. Yes, I understand the difference but it still makes little sense to me.

During lockdown the term “essential businesses” was pretty darn vague. I understand that people like their coffee and their Big Mac’s but are those really essential to keep open? Don’t get me started on lawn care companies. We have several friends that own these types of businesses so I am not advocating for these businesses to be shut down and their workers furloughed or laid off. As a state, the last thing we need are more people swelling the ranks of the unemployed. Yes, this has appeared in a previous blog, but are beautiful lawns essential in a pandemic? Who determined what businesses were essential? What criteria were used? Yup, just lying here on my raft, floating in a sea of confusion.

There is so much about the disease that is unclear. Even the WHO (World Health Organization) seems somewhat confused. Recently, one of their doctors was quoted as saying that people that are asymptomatic cannot transmit the disease. Then they spent the next 48 hours backtracking, explaining that was untrue and the doctor was offering their opinion, not fact. Currently the WHO is one of the leading “authorities” on this virus. It is easy to see why there are so many of us scratching our heads.

Response to this Pandemic, on so many fronts, has left several folks bewildered. Please know that we all understand that this was a first-time occurrence for almost all of us and that the leaders in government were figuratively riding the bike as they were building it. Why then, when stores, schools and other businesses were closing in March and there was clear evidence that this virus was droplet transmitted, did many states wait until May, or later, to require face masks? Today, nationwide the policies on masks seems to be an ever-changing target for some to hit. While many states still require masks, some are now leaving it up to individual citizens to decide mask on or mask off. Not sure what to do? Welcome to the Club.

States are now opening businesses again with mixed results in terms of the virus. Some locales that escaped high numbers in the first wave of the Coronavirus are now seeing record numbers of cases and in some instance’s deaths. Trust me, the whole reopening process has left more questions on the table then it answered. Did places open to soon? Were the right kinds of businesses allowed to open? How is it that hair salons got to open in many states while tattoo parlors were closed? They both are personal, somewhat invasive processes, that are unable to provide their services and still practice social distancing. So, what was the decision to open one but not the other based on? Most tattooists undergo rigorous training on providing a clean, safe workspace. Even Pre-Covid19, they had a very high standard of sanitation to get, as well as keep, their licenses. Across the street from us lives an individual that manages several high-end health clubs. They have been prepping to reopen for months by removing machines, adding staff, deep cleaning public areas, paying for more training and yet they are unable to open until Phase 3. Truly, I wish I understood all of this. When I talk to others they simply smile, nod and then go about their day.

There are so many things that mystify me about all of this but I can’t end this without talking about the government. When this hit, they passed several emergency spending measures to help bail out individuals, families, and businesses. One must applaud them for responding quickly as they saw the immense need in this country. Did we need to provide everyone that went on unemployment an extra $600.00 per week? For those of you that don’t want to do the math, based on a 40-hour week that is $15.00 per hour ADDED to their regular unemployment benefit. On the surface it seemed like a good idea but what about the poor souls that are working during all of this? Lots of those folks are making considerably less than many on unemployment and they are putting themselves at risk. How can that possibly be fair? Perhaps a case by case basis or a qualifying questionnaire would have been a better, fairer way to disseminate the money.

Speaking of the government, how, during a time where the Government is spending more and taking in less, have there not been massive layoffs, salary cuts or reductions in force? We are seeing it at the local levels, where towns are closing buildings, shortening hours, pink slipping teachers and cutting costs wherever they can to make ends meet as budget shortfalls become a grim reality. Now I’ve done it, I’ve given myself a massive headache.

My goal here is not to criticize. There is no playbook on which to base decisions, but as an average citizen, I am really confused. Over the next few months we have some significant challenges ahead; schools at every level are opening, the economy through business reopening and an almost sure uptick of Coronavirus cases. Hopefully, someone, somewhere, has a plan that most of us can make sense of.

About the Author:

Ken Abrahams is a graduate of Connecticut College and has BA in Sociology. As a result, he is an observer of people and events. During his freshmen year, Professor J. Melvin Woody told him that if he learned the first thing about writing it wasn’t evident in the paper that had been submitted. Over the years he has worked on his writing perhaps it shows or maybe he gets a little help from his editor. Follow his blogs at www.funent.com/blog.  

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