“Outside,” shouted one of the surfers on seeing a new “set” of bigger waves forming further out to sea than the small swells passing them but deemed not worth riding. Always, they looked for a bigger better-formed wave to catch. The world today is looking outside in the hope that a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will not appear. The evidence suggests that their (commerce-driven) optimism is gravely misplaced.
Currently, some analysts argue that the second wave of the pandemic is already here, while others assert that a new surge within the first wave has begun, wish spikes of new cases in several states. In most countries, after the peak of infections, the rate of infection has steadily gone down, with some flare-ups here and there. In the US, the first wave is clearly still with us; the post-peak pattern is distinctly different. Instead of steadily dropping as in most other nations, the infection rate continues at a level not much lower than the peak.
Second Wave or Continued Failure?
What’s up with that? Until this pandemic, most nations respected the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) and considered it the premier public health organization in the world. Then, the usual corrupt Trumpist political pattern of practice put his personal electoral ambition ahead of public health by ruthlessly inserting itself into the rapidly evolving public health crisis. Increasingly, political decisions to suppress information on the spread of the virus and effective defenses against it undercut attempts to fight the pandemic. The unjustified firing of respected professionals for telling the scientific truth disrupted normal scientific and policy practices of the public health professionals in the government.
The science of epidemiology is not perfect. However, certain patterns of infection of easily transmitted viruses are well known. Some patterns of human behavior, including political manipulation of public opinion, are also well known. At the same time, wishful and magical thinking arise in a situation where strong desires conflict with growing evidence that premature economic opening is enabling the spread of infection. So many folks deny the seriousness of infection spread in order to justify their commercial interests.
Collective Threat: The Corrupt Individualism of False Patriotism
The lack of a coherent consistent national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with political denial and failure to act resulted in the USA becoming the world leader in COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death. That pattern continues as the 2020 presidential election draws closer and the orange-headed charlatan tries to make it all go away in a desperate play to salvage a failing economy by denial and diversion.
Trump’s absurd public posturing at his indoor political rally in Tulsa with his pointed presidential indifference to the wearing of protective masks marks a new low. Despite the low attendance–less than half of the arena’s capacity–the danger of a “super-spreader” collective infection is high. We will see in a couple of weeks or so if a distinctly new spike occurs, even as the infection rate in Tulsa accelerates.
The intense assertion of “individual rights” not to wear a mask reflects a broader American indifference to any responsibility to others. The president is their role model for self-indulgence and callous indifference to the safety of others. Personal responsibility is not a feature of the Trump-captured Republican Party.
The risks of an even worse surge of infection in the US, whether you call it a second wave or not, reflect not only the behavior of the COVID-19 virus itself but the immature behavior and desires of many Americans today. In the present context of continued presidentially inspired political-economic and infection illusions, it may not be surprising that so many people imagine that the novel coronavirus is somehow going away. Except, that is, for the likely new surge of cases, hospitalization, and death caused by political irresponsibility.