As we teeter on the edge of economic collapse with the worst pandemic in a century likely to get much worse, we are seeing the good, the bad and the ugly. In spades.
Good. Some supermarkets have set aside times for seniors to shop so they are not exposed to possible COVID-19 carried by the young and unsuspecting. Millions of people are working long, difficult hours to help others.
Bad. The governor of Ohio and his public health director arbitrarily shut down voting late the night before the primary despite a judge’s order prohibiting the move. (Voting proceeded in Florida, Illinois and Arizona.)
Ugly. Officials are squabbling among themselves about what to do, such as the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City carrying their long-standing feud into the open over whether the city of 8.6 million sleepless people should shelter in place (a total shutdown).
Good. Neighbors are checking on neighbors, and school cafeteria workers are handing out meals to children shut out of schools but dependent for regular meals on school lunches.
Bad. A president who dillydallied for two months, refusing to take serious action while insisting the virus was under control, now insists he knew a pandemic was coming before anyone else.
Ugly. American journalists are being thrown out of China in retaliation for the U.S. ejection of Chinese journalists.
Good. Parents are homeschooling, setting firm schedules for their children and doing their best to keep little ones from getting scared. Parents are developing huge respect for and awe of teachers.
Bad. Kentucky’s GOP Sen. Rand Paul demanded U.S. soldiers be removed from Afghanistan before he’d vote on a proposal to help Americans thrown out of work and denied paychecks because of the virus.
Ugly. Patients with symptoms are being told to get tested but they have no idea where to go or what to do. Greece has tested more people than the U.S.
Good. Protective items such as hand sanitizer and masks are being donated to medical personnel by those who don’t need them.
Bad. Supplies are in frighteningly short supply.
Ugly. Some people have been hoarding protective gear to charge others excessive prices.
Good. Pop artists such as Coldplay, Keith Urban and John Legend have been streaming live performances to cheer us up.
Bad. Cat videos are becoming even more viral.
Ugly. Our beloved March Madness has disappeared this year.
Good. Everyone is learning a lot about viruses and handwashing and something intensely disturbing called social distancing.
Bad. There is immense confusion and misinformation about how to fight this virus, such as United Kingdom officials falsely claiming people quickly will develop a “herd immunity.”
Ugly. A power dispute over religious shrines in Iran, a hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak, is impeding efforts to mitigate it there. The virus now is spreading in migrant camps in the Middle East. Millions may die.
Good. Technology and social media are keeping families in touch.
Bad. Social isolation, especially among seniors, is now required, to the detriment of everyone. Loneliness is a serious risk to health.
Ugly. The weak, sick and old are especially vulnerable to scams in such a time.
Good. Congress is taking action to help Americans deal with the disruptions the virus is causing.
Bad. There is vast disagreement about the best ways to help.
Ugly. There are too few hospital beds, too few test kits, medical supplies and ventilators, too many sick and too many unemployed.
Good. The power of the federal government, including the Defense Department, and the private sector are now focused on combating the disease.
Bad. It took far too long.
Ugly. The president, who considers himself a wartime president, said he will continue calling COVID-19 the “Chinese” or “foreign” virus against advice. This has led to a backlash against Chinese and acts of cruelty, intolerance and scapegoating against Chinese Americans, including the use by a White House official of the term “kung flu.”
Good. The head of the Centers for Disease Control warned such derogatory terms are scientifically wrong. Morally intolerable, as well.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.