I started writing this blog post 2 days ago and meant to finish it before all hell broke loose. Apparently, I’m a little too late. I just came back from work where I was awestruck at the destruction of the Club I work. My 9 to 5 job is a forklift driver and bakery clerk at BJ’s Wholesale Club in South Central New Jersey. My co-worker sent me a text yesterday, alluding to how busy we were, and she shot me a picture. It was a picture looking out from the bakery to a line of customers that wrapped around our tables. This picture included our completely bare bread racks. People started panic buying Thursday at my store and have continued through today, Friday the 13th. It was absolute mayhem. With that in mind, I wrote the following a couple of days ago.
I’m just an individual with no specialized degrees or special qualifications to espouse advice on this subject. However, I think people need to hear how other people are handling the crisis and to state some facts. Make no bones about it, it is a crisis, or soon will be. The only reason we haven’t seen more cases of COVID-19 in the US is that there hasn’t been the level of testing that there has been in South Korea or the United Kingdom. South Korea was testing upwards of 10,000 a day, and the UK is testing around four thousand a day.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the beginning insisted on developing their own kits, instead of adopting those provided by the World Health Organization. So they lost out on precious time and to get ahead of this virus. The President’s response is best described as malevolence tempered with incompetence. Instead of letting the experts, i.e., Doctors and Scientists, take the lead, our President has pushed himself and his V.P., both politicians, to take the lead on the response. This tactic is dangerous at best and irresponsible at worst.
At this point, our country is not prepared for this crisis. As of Tuesday, around 4300 people have been tested according to the Atlantic magazine and their independent team that’s studied each state’s reported numbers.
According to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal government may have finally ironed out the difficulties: He announced on March 8 that “around 4million tests” would be sent out by “the end of next week.” Irwin Redlener, a physician who studies public health and disaster preparedness at Columbia University, condemned the federal government’s response as “the most egregious level of incompetence in an administration that I think we’ve witnessed at least in my memory…It’s actually stunning.”
This country is in no situation to weather the storm of a full-blown pandemic. The shocking number of bankruptcies each year, 530,000, due to healthcare bills also exacerbates the misery of society at large. The lack of paid sick leave for regular ordinary persons. There’s already talk about bailing out the cruise lines and providing a stimulus package, so Wall Street doesn’t freak out any further. The ordinary person is supposed to obey the rules and not get for any help, but when it comes to our corporations, they get all the help they need from the federal government.
On a personal note, I took a $3000 pay cut the year that my health insurer started implementing co-insurance deductibles in addition to co-pays. That was about five years ago, and it has progressively gotten worse. So any “pay increases” have been woefully too little to offset the enormous pay cut I endured five years ago.
I currently and still work in a retail environment at a 9 to 5 job four days a week. I have witnessed our store blow through at least 30 pallets of water last weekend alone. Sales are up across the board from cleaning supplies to perishables, to storage bags and all “end of the world” type items. The people around me, including myself, have convinced ourselves that this is not as bad as the 14 to 46 thousand people who die from the influenza virus each year. But because the full scope is not yet visible, we don’t know the mortality rate of this virus. From what I am reading, in Italy, it is hovering around 5%. That’s a little different than the flu.
I hope this article doesn’t scare you from taking any vacations this year. Quite the opposite, I hope it empowers and informs you to make the correct decision for yourselves. I flew, with my wife, a week after 9/11 to Colorado from New Jersey. Yes, the plane was empty. I have a strong foundational belief when it’s your time to go; it’s your time to go. So I’ve lived my life with this ethos and have taken risks that I know other people would call foolish. After the coronavirus had already taken hold in February, I traveled to Australia for several workshops concerning my Digital Marketing business. I never once thought about canceling the trip. I was not alone. Everyone showed up that had booked their journeys, and both classes were full. Granted, it was early on during the coronavirus outbreak.
I believe this virus should subside and hopefully disappear during the summer months, but it’s summer down in the Southern Hemisphere, and the virus is spreading down there as well. I have the opportunity to go to Disney World in late October, early November of this year, and we took the plunge. Last night I booked our plane tickets, and my wife previously booked our rooms at Animal Kingdom lodge. I also have a trip planned to Colorado this summer with my son through Boy Scouts that I hope doesn’t get canceled. I tell you this because I want you to realize that even though I’m extremely concerned about what could happen in the coming year, but I still will continue to live my life to the fullest. Now, after I’ve stated this, I do have a line in the sand for my family and me. I will not under any circumstance, go on a cruise until this virus goes away. I just learned my mother and father-in-law are currently booked to go on a cruise this summer. I have full intention of talking them out of it. I desperately want to cruise out of New Orleans, which my wife and I have never been to, on Disney Cruise Lines, but until a vaccine is created or by some miracle the virus subsides entirely, I will not book a cruise. I believe the US State Department stated we should avoid going on cruises.
My advice to myself and others is that everyone lay low for a couple of weeks and practice excellent hygiene, and we should come out on the other side of this, okay. I’m preparing for the worst but hoping for the best and praying for everyone else. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.