As summer winds to a close and the nation’s attention fixes squarely upon the upcoming presidential election, I find myself reflecting on the steep price our elderly paid these last six months, and what may be asked of them going forward as the pandemic gives way to the sobering reality of what has been lost.
COVID-19 will runs its course soon and may very well be consigned to the company of the “swine flu” and other viruses that never delivered the threatened death counts public health experts predicted. We now know, for example, that despite the media images to the contrary, New York City, the supposed coronavirus epicenter, never came close to maxing out its capacity of regular or ICU beds. A similar realization of “false alarm” is happening in communities across the country. A new Stanford study says that a person 50-64 (my age group) had a 1-in-19 million chance of dying from COVID. Those weren’t the odds we were told when we fundamentally altered American way of life. Many now realize the irony that in “flattening the curve” to protect health care systems and providers, we actually flattened many others – not to mention the economy.
There is a clear consensus that our nation’s response to the unique challenges of the coronavirus crisis will be the central issue in the Trump-Biden showdown. Whether the prevailing narrative is “Trump failed”, or alternatively, “Trump stood up to the elites”, is anyone’s guess. Those who count the incumbent out don’t realize how many voters who can’t stomach him, will nonetheless vote for him. The identity politics, the social justice dividers and their sympathetic media, and the legion of “right think” zealots have left them no other option.
Whoever wins, loses
I cannot predict which candidate will win. But I can predict that whoever wins on election day, loses. The magnitude of the economic meltdown is so severe, in so many sectors, that an era of upheaval and financial hardship will accompany the newly-elected president to the west front of the U.S. Capitol. The problems are worldwide, and the recent attempts by governments to flood the financial systems with cash by the trillions, is only delaying the inevitable accounting ahead. Whatever the opposite of a honeymoon is, that is what the 2020 U.S. presidential election winner will get.
What might this mean for our country we love? I’ll share some thoughts in a future blog. But one thing seems certain to me. The elderly, particularly those dependent on caregivers, and those living on fixed incomes or government and faith-based organization assistance, will bear the brunt of our nation’s failure to properly manage the COVID pandemic. During any time in history where nations have experienced widespread economic hardship, it is always these groups who suffer first, and the most. Leaders in business, government, faith communities, and within the health and long-term care systems should be spending time – now – preparing for these inevitable developments in order to mitigate the suffering that is to come as the U.S., and the world, awaken to 2021 realities.