“What a long, strange trip it’s been” – Truckin’, the Grateful Dead
Nearly 400 posts later, we’re still truckin’ and covering the coronavirus crisis.
We’re now on the eve of a painfully slow reopening of the state’s economy, with viewpoints running the gamut from “it’s just the flu, let’s tell Johnny Carney who’s boss”, to a few fringe types suggesting that we cower in fear the rest of the year.
Our first post appeared on February 10 as Delaware health officials began to monitor travelers from China. A travel ban was imposed later in the month. Europe stayed off the table, with widespread poo-pooing the idea.
Health officials were on alert as the state began reporting on coronavirus monitoring efforts with regular updates. None of this was particularly alarming, since it was coming during flu season, which comes with little-noticed updates. As the story noted, the disease did not seem to be spreading rapidly.
The next day, an economist at the annual Lyons Insurance-University of Delaware economic update mentioned that coronavirus could cause problems for the supply chain.
It turned out that the pandemic spread on the East Coast after travelers arrived from Europe and Italy in particular. The result was a health catastrophe.
In densely populated New York City and north Jersey, the virus spread quickly and led to 20,000 confirmed and probable deaths and counting and it could have been much worse.
The first cases here were reported around the 10th of March and were tied to a get-together by members of the University of Delaware community.
By mid-March, it became clear the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, was a clear threat. In a head-snapping series of actions, restaurants and stores were closed and people were told to stay home.
Airline travel cratered, malls closed, and public events disappeared, even before the lockdown. We are now seeing a flattening of the curve, but at what cost?
Now, we’re getting to the hard part as restlessness builds and the extent of the economic devastation becomes apparent.
Can the state safely reopen and what it “look like?” A quick rebound for the economy seems unlikely and looming in the background is a second outbreak during flu season
Then we have the outbreak in the poultry processing belt of Sussex County. Despite being downplayed by some of the “just flu” crowd, containing and putting out that fire now involves hundreds of health care professionals, National Guard members, and even a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All around the state, the current situation has led to long-stressed filled days and tragedies like the 11 who died at one Newark-area care facility. Dozens died at another long-term care facility in Milford, a city on the edge of the current outbreak.
Meanwhile, poultry plants are handled with kid gloves. Nowhere to be found are disclosures of cases we see in other states.
Much of this action took place out of sight, with first responders and the media so busy that it often took social media posts to get the story out.
Add in a presidential election year, double digit jobless rates, Joe Biden coming back from the political grave, Tiger King emerging into the top show on Netflix and we have perhaps the strangest year in the state’s history.
Click here if you want to check out the hundreds of posts on Delaware’s response to coronavirus. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to look back. It’s exhausting. – Doug and Sharon Rainey.