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Five stages

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Good news, people! We're halfway there! Think of this as the Hump Day of grief. We've already been through denial: "We have it totally under control," President Donald J. Trump said. Then COVID-19 was a "hoax" caused by Democrats. Then as things got worse, Trump said, "I don't take responsibility at all" for the federal government's tepid response. The buck stops where?

Then came stage two: anger. "You're a third-rate reporter and what you just asked me is a disgrace. You will never make it," Trump said to a "loser" White House reporter asking about Inspector General Christi Grimm's report that hospitals were in short supply of COVID-19 tests and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and that the federal government was doing too little to help.

I'm pretty sure Trump will be stuck at stage two for a while, but the rest of us are definitely in stage three: depression. Stuck at home, many of us jobless, we're being fed a steady stream of bad news. The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said to expect between 100,000 and 240,000 U.S. deaths ... if we take it seriously and enact appropriate safety measures.

Yes, that's depressing, but now all we need to get through is bargaining and acceptance and we're home free! Woo hoo!

Well, at least some of us have made it to depression. I was perusing the ol' Facebook and found someone had posted a meme with a quote by the right wing's best and brightest, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Rush Limbaugh, who said, "The Democrats are gonna pitch this as lives versus money, and they're gonna do their best to make sure this economy stays shut down because that's the fastest way they think to beating Trump."

Yeah, stupid Democrats! Of course they'd crash the economy to beat Trump. It's not like Democrats actually care about people's lives. Unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps—all Democratic tricks! They must be playing the long game, right? Sly move, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Then I saw another meme with a quote from ultraconservative talk show host Bill Mitchell: "Let's see. I have a 0.05% chance of catching COVID-19. If I catch it, I have a 99.8% chance of surviving it. That means I have a 0.0001% chance of dying from COVID-19. Or we could have a Second Great Depression. Huh. I'll take my chances with COVID-19."

Commenters under the meme all-caps-screamed about OPENING AMERICA and how all the precautionary measures were BULLSHIT THE MEDIA IS SPEWING.

I have an idea! How about all you COVID-19 deniers, hoax-believers, and conspiracy theorists gather together in an enclosed building, shake hands, and pat each other on the back for about two weeks. It'll be a test of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection!

On April 6, SLO County held another COVID-19 briefing. County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein engaged in a bit of mental yoga, twisting herself in a neat knot: "We believe that anyone from this county who wants to get a test can if they go to the right place. And let me be clear on that, having made a very dramatic statement. Let me walk that back a little bit. Still we are not offering people with no symptoms to get a test. Yes, there are probably people who have this disease who are in fact showing no symptoms."

Huh? Thank you for giving me logic whiplash, doctor. My neck and brain hurt real bad. Can we all agree that the only way to truly know who does or doesn't carry COVID-19 is to test everyone? Can we also agree there are insufficient tests available? Dr. Borenstein said if you're showing any symptoms, including—and I quote—"tiredness," you should get tested. Raise your hand if you're not "tired." I'm fricking exhausted!

Even more tiresome is the prediction that this sheltering at home could drag on for months and months. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state won't even peak until May. Santa Barbara County said they expect their peak won't come until June or even July, and that people might still be getting sick into November, and that's with social distancing.

The various predictions are all over the place, and who knows what to believe?

People will trickle into hospitals and the economy will shrivel up and die. People don't have health insurance because they don't have jobs. Are rent and mortgages just going to go unpaid until November? WTF? The most vulnerable—the lowest members on society's totem pole—are completely screwed.

We really didn't have a plan in place at all. Like at all. It's ridiculous that it takes a gigantic crisis for people in power to realize how screwed-up the status quo really is. By the way, thanks, Trump, for disbanding "Obama's" Pandemic Response Team. Sweet move!

Meanwhile, there are still people out there who think this is over-hyped. Rushbo and BM (Bill Mitchell, not bowel movement, silly!), will you two just go make out with a coughing sex worker already. You're really messing up the gene pool.

And God, if Trump could just please lose the next election ... oh my! Did I just reach bargaining? One to go! Δ

The Shredder, being a small office appliance, is immune to human diseases. Send comments and suggestions to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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