Everything has changed.
Life as we knew it - even last week - doesn’t exist.
The rapidly growing scourge of coronavirus has reshaped our lives more quickly than anything in our nation’s history.
Life will go on. But at a cost paid by everybody, everywhere.
We would have never thought that there would be people in American who would have to “shelter in place” last month.
That’s the reality of a global pandemic that has burdened a government that was ill-prepared to confront it.
Republicans who were incensed by President Obama’s bailouts, are now fully behind them since businesses are struggling because of this virus.
They also have a new respect for sick leave, for extending unemployment benefits, and even government handouts to try to keep businesses afloat.
Healthcare systems across the country are being bogged down by the need to get coronavirus testing. That meant Republicans gladly saw the need to sign off on having the government pay for those tests.
If Democrats had suggested that last December, they would have been called “commies.”
Coronavirus is turning Washington upside down and inside out.
On February 12th, the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security Committee held hearings in which a committee member, Kamala Harris of California, pointedly asked why nobody from the Trump administration bothered to send anybody to answer questions about handling the troubling disease known as coronavirus.
That very day, President Trump may have been more interested in the Dow Industrial Average, which hit its all-time high of 29,551.42.
Trump has mistakenly equated his success with the slow, deliberate rise of the Dow.
“New Stock Market RECORD. Congratulations, spend your money wisely. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!!!!!”, he tweeted on February 11th.
The higher the stock market, he thinks, the better his chance is for reelection.
No wonder he kept downplaying that ailment that started killing thousands of people in China. It just didn’t seem to be that important.
On January 22nd he boasted, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming from China, and we have it under control.”
That “one person” was already marching from China to South Korea, to Italy and headed toward the United States.
Trump’s unwillingness to see beyond his hubris, was frequently on display.
“We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time,” he said at a White House news conference on February 26th.
Time-after-time, Trump refused to admit that the United States wasn’t prepared for what was sure to come.
It wasn’t until recently that he began listening to scientists who impressed upon him that tens of thousands of people are being infected, and thousands of people are dying around the world.
He’s now doing what he always does when he realizes he could lose votes because of his actions, or inactions. He’s telling fibs.
“I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” he told reporters last Tuesday.
That surprised many Americans who’d watched him try to reassure everybody that he had everything under control. Or, that coronavirus is nothing more than a fancy name for flu.
But his superior knowledge of it being a pandemic long ago was supplanted the next day (last Wednesday) when he proclaimed, “It snuck up on us.”
How can something “sneak up on us,” if he knew it was there all of the time?
You’d have to ask him how that works.
Reporters do ask him this stuff every day, and they’re perplexed by his conclusions every day.
When asked how he would rate his handling the coronavirus crisis on a scale of 1-10, he proudly said “a 10.”
When confronted with the fact that his job approval numbers are sagging, he cited some obscure polling that has him beating “Sleepy” Joe Biden.
His Gallup job approval numbers had risen to 49% in February. (The first time his positive numbers exceeded his negative numbers.)
They’ve since dropped to only 44% now.
Edward A. Owens is a multi-Emmy Award winner, former reporter, and anchor for Entertainment Tonight and 20-year TV news veteran. E-mail him at email@example.com.