We Americans are about as dumb as we want to be. With 1.5 million cases of the coronavirus confirmed in the U.S. and COVID-related deaths approaching 80,000, many states began reopening certain businesses and public places, and the populace emerged from their homes with a vengeance.
When Mayor Strickland's "Safer at Home" executive order expired on May 5th, Memphis shoppers packed grocery stores, while complaints piled up over people neither wearing masks nor social distancing, especially in the bleach and disinfectant aisle.
In Ft. Worth, Texas, five people were shot at a party in a public park that drew over 600 people. In Arkansas, hair salons, barber shops, and tattoo and massage parlors will open this week, while at the federal prison in Forrest City, 301 inmates and 14 staffers have tested positive. In Jacksonville, Florida, crowds jammed beaches despite the mayor's directive limiting gatherings to 10 people. Officials in Boca Raton tweeted images of crowded boat parties, while Governor Ron DeSantis announced that municipalities should "feel free" to begin opening parks and beaches. Crowds in California continue to jam beaches and parks, defying the governor's orders to shelter in place. In Flint, Michigan, a security guard at a Family Dollar store was murdered by a disgruntled customer who took offense at the guard's insistence that a young girl put on a face mask in accordance with a state order.
And we haven't even mentioned the churches. Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana held services for over 550 parishioners because the pastor proclaimed the virus "is not a concern. The virus, we believe, is politically motivated." Over at the River Church in Tampa, Florida, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested after defying repeated orders to not hold services at his mega-church. The good pastor, one of many Christian leaders who laid hands on the president during a prayer session in the Oval Office, told his congregation that the pandemic was of less concern than the flu and announced that "The whole thing is planned ... to shut down Christianity." He also told his flock that God would replenish their toilet paper, and I wish that were a joke.
Closer to home, the Cleburne County Church in Greers Ferry, Arkansas, held a children's event in late March, after which 34 people tested positive for the coronavirus, including the pastor and his wife.
The newest viral hotspot is in the White House. Trump's personal valet has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the guy who serves the president his food and yet, the Mad King still refuses to wear a face mask for fear that it would make him look ridiculous. This would rank about 12th on the list of things that make Trump look ridiculous. The press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, Katie Miller, has also tested positive for coronavirus. Miller is the wife of White House ghoul and architect of the "brown children in cages" policy, Stephen Miller. Miller himself tested negative, which is expected of bloodless vampires. The only thing that could harm him is a wooden stake.
Our president continues on his singular quest to reopen every KFC in the country, despite the best advice of his experts. A recently leaked White House internal document, assembled by FEMA, projects deaths reaching three thousand a day by June 1st — a 70 percent increase from current numbers. The often-quoted University of Washington model projects 135,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus through the first of August — more than double its forecast from mid-April. The squatter in the White House has forbidden any officials on the Coronavirus Task Force from testifying before Congress without the express approval of new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
As I write this, there are more than 3,000 confirmed cases and 64 deaths from COVID-19 in Shelby County. The virus is raging through nursing homes and jails while the "essential employees" of these facilities fan out into their respective communities after their shifts. And yet some people still believe the coronavirus, as the president once said, is "a hoax." Personally, we're not going anywhere until summer, or when medical experts tell us it'll be safe to visit patients in the hospital again.
On a positive note, Carnival Cruises will resume excursions in August, and I understand tickets are a real bargain.
Randy Haspel writes the "Recycled Hippies" blog.