We Are No One

“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it…but the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”

– President Joseph R. Biden

In a single casual response to the question “do you think the the pandemic is over” from Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes, President Biden threw every single American under the viral bus. I guess those of us who have been struggling to avoid being disabled or killed by SARS2 now have an inkling of how the Kurds must have felt when Trump betrayed them. And no, that’s not hyperbole.

We still have a problem with COVID.

Why yes, yes we do: it’s called a pandemic, Mr. President. Despite your best efforts to gut our testing infrastructure by tossing us a handful of unreliable rapid antigen tests that can’t be counted, rather than rapid PCR technology that is far more effective and can be tallied, our daily cases are still averaging roughly 90,000 per day. That’s roughly three times the peak of the first surge in 2020. We’re also averaging roughly about 600 deaths per day, which comes to a 9/11 about every 5 days, or 18,000 dead over a month – take your pick. And that death rate has been as much or somewhat higher since June.

But that’s okay, apparently. It’s only a cold. I’m sure the deaths are mild, too.

We’re still doing a lot of work on it…but the pandemic is over.

And if the pandemic is over, why should anyone get vaccinated or boosted? Why should big pharma develop more effective vaccines or desperately needed antivirals? Why should mask manufacturers, those that haven’t already shut down, keep making N95s? If it’s over, why bother? Because…it’s over, right?

And what’s “still doing a lot of work on it” amount to, exactly, other than telling people who are vaccinated they can safely unmask (they can’t), or telling states to use their unspent COVID relief money (much of which wasn’t spent on COVID relief to begin with) to pay for more cops, or Rochelle Walensky and Ashish Jha tossing disinformation at the public like Trump tossing his paper towels to relief workers in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island?

From what I see, almost all the work you and your administration have done since the initial vaccine rollout has been to try and sweep things under the rug, periodically blaming the Republicans. Granted, the Republicans are an execrable bunch, but even they can hardly be blamed for refusing to vote for more funding when you’ve been pushing the urgency of normal. And now? Well, there’s no reason to provide any funding or support whatsoever related to COVID, because the pandemic is over. Win-win for you and your friend and “man of honor” Mitch McConnell, I’m sure.

If you notice, no one’s wearing masks.

As you casually wander about the auto show like a self-entitled tourist, that’s what you say: no one’s wearing masks.”

We are no one, Mr. President…except for the millions of immunocompromised who have lived on the knife’s edge for over two and a half years, wondering when a single breath laden with SARS2 might kill them.

We are no one…except for the millions more who are suffering from long COVID and are desperate not to be reinfected, making their symptoms catastrophically worse and potentially killing them.

We are no one…except the millions more who have not yet been infected, and are desperately trying to avoid it, because we know it’s not a cold, we know how it can devastate our bodies with even a single infection, and we know that “mild” means anything short of a trip to the hospital.

We are no one…except for parents trapped in the agonizing dilemma of being forced to send their children to schools without mitigations, where their sons and daughters will unwittingly and unwillingly bring home a disease that can maim and kill.

Yes, Mr. President, we are no one. We are the Mask Wearers. We wear Walensky’s “scarlet letter of the pandemic,” and we do so because that is our armor, that is our best defense, augmented by out of date vaccines and the pitiful brace of other tools that your advisors are studiously trying to commercialize for the benefit of your corporate donors.

And we are paying the price for our heresy, for our scarlet sin, not only having to pay out of pocket in most cases for decent (N95 or P100) masks, but with the harassment and humiliation of verbal and sometimes even physical abuse. For no other reason than we choose to protect ourselves, to protect our families and children, and also to protect others, be they members of our families or complete strangers. For we do not wish to inadvertently inflict this horrible disease on others. Thus must we be scourged by those who believe the pandemic is over, and you, Mr. President have handed them the whip.

Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape.

Oh, are they, Mr. President? Are they indeed in good shape?

You must have forgotten all those who are suffering with long COVID: an estimated 18 million Americans were suffering long COVID this past July, and no doubt there are many, many more now, with more every passing day. Four million, give or take, are disabled to the point they can no longer work, with more joining their ranks every day. And where does that leave them in a nation as compassionless and uncaring as the United States of America? I also love how you crow about job growth and the economy, without ever mentioning the inconvenient truth that this job “creation” is nothing more than a succession of people getting sick and dying, filling and leaving jobs vacant in a cycle of mind-boggling tragedy.

I know a number of those folks from connecting on Twitter. You have no idea, Mr. President – no idea – how many of these people are out there, how much they’ve been suffering, both physically and mentally, how little medical or financial help is available for them, or how your casual the pandemic is over response likely made many of them feel like you slammed the lid on their coffin and nailed it shut.

But beyond that, everyone who is infected stands a great chance of no longer being “in pretty good shape.” This is why I say that you have thrown all Americans under the viral bus. Maskers, anti-maskers, vaxxers, anti-vaxxers, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Black, White, and everyone in between. With those four words, the pandemic is over, with that brief lie,  you have consigned who knows how many more Americans to suffering and death. Most, sadly, will be minorities and working class, those who don’t have the luxury of staying at home without pay, who have no sick leave, those who can be used up as fuel for your economic machine without tearing at whatever conscience you may have.

And so I think it’s changing.

Oh, yes, Mr. President: about this one thing, you’re absolutely correct. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID (in case Jha or Walensky hasn’t mentioned) is changing. It’s changing all the time, adapting to evade our immunity, either through infection (which is bad) or vaccination (which is generally woefully out of date). It has never been, is not now, and will never be a “cold” – so say the evolutionary biologists I follow on Twitter. This ever-changing virus takes a wrecking ball to our immune systems, to our organs. Even those who have a “mild” case and think they’re fine afterward can have a heart attack or a stroke because of the clotting the virus can cause.

SARS-CoV-2 Lineage

So, yes, Mr. President, you at least got that part right. I think it’s changing, too, because it’s always doing its Darwinian best to replicate and find new hosts, and in the process it makes us sick and kills us. 

“The Buck Stops Here”

I  wanted to add this quote from President Harry S. Truman for the benefit of those reading this who think I’m being too harsh, that we should give President Biden a break or a pass for his “gaffe.” Anyone who has ever held a position of command in the military or leadership in the civilian world should understand that you are responsible for what happens on your watch. And you are certainly responsible for what you yourself say and do. If you hired terrible advisors, if you listen to them, if you base your policy decisions on what they say – that’s on you. And maybe that’s what’s happened: maybe Biden is just awash in so much propaganda from the likes of Walensky and Jha that he doesn’t see the truth of it. I, being the cynic that I am, don’t buy it. Even if that were true, I have some bad news for you: what he says and does is still his responsibility. Sorry, not sorry.

No. I believe that 60 Minutes offered Biden an opportunity to push the next phase of what has been a very obvious policy strategy for quite some time now: sweep the pandemic under the rug. Bury it. And if need be, bury another million or more Americans (he’s well on his way) along with it, not even including all those suffering long COVID who will likely die long before their time because of our horrific (even by pre-pandemic standards) medical system. His policy reveal on 60 Minutes was analogous to the drop of the then-forthcoming decision by the Supreme Court on Roe vs. Wade. “Whoops! I maybe shouldn’t have said that, but I did, so we’re going to run with it.” This is where we are. What he said on 60 Minutes is now policy.

My friend, my life does not matter to President Biden or the Democratic or Republican Parties. Nor does yours, or the lives of your children, your parents, your lover, or your friends.

The only thing – the only thing – that matters to all of them is to keep the fires of the economic engine burning to make the rich richer. And we are the fuel.

We Are No One

4 thoughts on “We Are No One

  • September 24, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    This article really hit home. As an immunocompromised individual, I have been mocked, accused of living in fear and treated as if my life doesn’t matter.

    • September 24, 2022 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks! And yeah, this entire situation is absolutely horrid and absurd, especially for folks like yourself. Ours is NOT a compassionate society…

    • October 3, 2022 at 5:21 am

      Janice, that’s so fucked up that others are treating you that way. Even those who call themselves “Progressive “ are often upholding this ableist/ white supremacist/ pro-capitalist agenda. So grateful to find this group!

  • October 3, 2022 at 5:04 am

    Thanks so much for writing this truthful piece. I’m really struggling with the constant ableism and white supremacy culture in our society. My child gets status seizures and breathing suppression from cold/flu viruses thus we’ve been forced to isolate for years, even prior to Covid-19.

    It’s been saddened how family, friends and community refuse to take the most basic steps to protect those who have disabilities and chronic complex medical conditions. I really appreciate your truth telling and will share your article with others!

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