My post will be US-centric, because that's where I live, but obviously you're welcome to talk about your own location as well. With this new COVID-19/Omicron surge, strange things are afoot....
My post will be US-centric, because that's where I live, but obviously you're welcome to talk about your own location as well.
With this new COVID-19/Omicron surge, strange things are afoot. Specifically, those in charge of our systems and government have chose to ignore it, rather than institute more shut downs, mandates, stimuli, etc. It appears as though the plan now is to let it burn through the population and see how that shakes out.
But if you peruse r/nursing and r/teachers like I do, you can really see how deep the cracks are becoming. Infections are up, as are hospitalizations, and with more and more professionals out sick, we're seeing huge staff shortages in both education and health care. These industries in particular are essential, and the professionals in these jobs are on the front line of our problems. Health care professionals obviously need to be there to help the sick. And teachers need to be there not only to teach, but so that parents can go to work. They're being sacrificed to our economy.
But as teachers, for example, get sick or get burned out and quit, it puts continued strain on the education system as a whole. We're already seeing staff shortages in other areas of education, such as food service, bus drivers, substitutes, paraprofessionals. With how contagious this variant is, it's only a matter of time until school systems collapse in on themselves due to a lack of people running the show. And when kids have no place to go, parents will have to figure something out or stay home themselves, pulling them away from their jobs and their income.
With all help being pulled away from Americans--help such as eviction moratoriums, financial stimulus, unemployment benefits--what might happen if these things begin to cascade? There are already plenty of anecdotal reports from those in health care that hospitals are full, short staffed, and falling (and you can check here to see hospital status in your state). It can take hours, if not days, to find a bed for someone in the ER. As for education, increasingly both teachers and students are out sick with COVID, yet administrations are fighting tooth and nail against any kind of remote learning, only exacerbating the problem. Remote learning, as you know, requires a parent to be home with the child, which takes them away from work, income, and economic productivity.
And meanwhile, the media seems mostly quiet about how things are actually going. The line is that Omicron is "mild" but if you look at hospitals and schools, it seems like that might just be verbiage to reduce panic in the populace. Omicron isn't mild for the health care system. Better hope you don't get in a car accident. And in medical terms, "mild" is a pretty broad thing. It could mean you're home sick for two weeks, feeling like death, but not bad enough to be hospitalized.
And then there are other front line workers, grocery stores, supply chain, all experiencing similar sickness and staff shortages. But I haven't been keeping up with that as much lately as I have been with education and health care. If anybody has information about these sectors, I'd love to hear it.
My gut feeling is that the economy is actually on the verge of collapse, and this "let it rip!" strategy is a hail mary to see if the status quo can be maintained by sacrificing the health and well-being of a lot of people. Any other mitigation efforts could topple the economy as we know it (and as those at the top benefit from it), so the people in charge of our systems have decided that we're not going to try to fix things, we're just going to hope it works out in the end and deal with the death and illness. For me, the proverbial canary in the coal mine for this was the recent extension of the student loan payment pause. Borrowers had been blasted for months, both phone calls and emails, telling them that loans would need to be paid after January 31st, it was happening, get ready for it. And then poof... nope. Extended. The government knows. People are stretched thin as it is and restarting loan payments could be the thing that triggers the economy to tumble. Even if borrowers can pay, it sucks money out of the consumer economy which can have far-reaching effects.
Many, if not most people are absolutely fatigued by this pandemic. I am, you probably are. But it has revealed so many cracks in our flawed system and it really feels like the people in charge of things--whoever that is--are gripping on for dear life, just hoping the flaws can remain because it benefits them, praying that the system holds. I just don't see it. I don't see how we make it through this without some kind of major fall. People want to ignore it all, because it's frightening and it's negative, but it's happening right in front of our eyes. Our most important systems are broken and those with the power to fix them aren't doing it.
I'm curious as to what Tildes thinks.