Letter from the Editor: Grounded

I’ve always been crazy, but it’s kept me from going insane.”


Waylon Jennings

Opinion

My last flight was out of Dallas Fort Worth on March 12. Total COVID-19 deaths in the United States on that date were 51.

For reasons not necessary to get into, I’ve been commuting fairly often for several months between Colorado and Arkansas connecting through DFW.

I hate DFW with its long escalator rides to catch the trains that connect five terminals from hell. Once before 9/11, Bill Marler and I were making a transfer at DFW to get back to Seattle. We were running and barely making it when the airplane door began to close. Bill tossed his carry on bag, preventing the door from closing.

Back then, the airline even apologized to us for the distant terminal connections and they’re being too quick to close. While I hate DFW, I already  miss it.

I’d like to be flying somewhere, even if it meant going through DFW or Atlanta’s Hartsfield during a thunderstorm or Chicago’s O’Hare with snow coming in over Lake Michigan.

And I’d really like to get a haircut, go to a restaurant with padded leather booths in the bar, and watch some baseball. Talk about going through a March Madness while missing it all the same.

President Trump announced his “Slow the Spread” plan on March 16, suggesting everybody go home and stay there. So, we did, arriving back in Colorado on St. Patrick’s Day after a two-day, 1,000-mile road trip.

COVID-19 deaths in the United States stood at 127 on March 17. As I’ve told friends, we’re fine. As long as there are drive-thru, pickup options for coffee, groceries, and liquor, we will survive.

And that’s even with the mandatory stay-at-home orders that Colorado’s governor put into effect on March 25 when U.S. deaths stood at 948.

By the time we get to Day 30 of this exercise in isolating ourselves from each other, the predictions call for 37, 937 U.S. deaths by April 17, 2020. And that may end up being only a third of what might be reached by the end of the summer.

At the University of Washington, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is also predicting the “resource peak” should be reached by mid-April. That’s the date when demands on the health system should be easing up a bit every day instead of getting worse.

It’s also probably when we will start seeing all the various medical shortages turn into surplusses. Production has scaled up to all over the place.

This isolation strategy comes at an enormous cost. We’ve done it because we want to give the medical system time to put enough resources ahead of the demand and because we don’t want to burn out of our first responders especially doctors and nurses.

In a sense, we are all also involved an employer lottery. If your employer was deemed “non-essential” by your governor, you might today also be unemployed. If your employer is “essential,” you probably still have a job.

We’re just lucky at Food Safety News. I’d put our publisher up against about any employer for his skill and generosity in transitioning to this new normal. His publishing side has always worked from home offices in cities around the world. But as managing partner of a mid-sized, but national law firm, he prepared for this day when the top floor of Seattle’s Standard Building is mostly empty. But the Marler Clark lawyers and paralegals are healthy, and carrying on, meeting demands of clients and courts and other law firms around the country.

Food Safety News was honored this week with a $5,000 donation being made in its name to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund. And we likely got it in time to be matched by Facebook, which is providing a 2-to-1 match on donations to the CDC Foundation up to $10 million.

Since 9/11,  the heavy lifting in this country has been done mostly by our various special forces and their families. Sometimes they are called the “other one percent” because the rest of us have been able to blissfully go about our lives.

Well, like it or not, we are all enlisted for this one, and we better make sure it comes out right.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Source: Letter from the Editor: Grounded

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