Around the County

The Bad, the Good, the Ugly, and ...

By Pat Stuart
Posted 11/27/20

Who would have guessed last February that come Thanksgiving we’d not only still be fighting the coronavirus but that it would be worse than ever? As I write this, I just heard Gov. Mark Gordon …

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Around the County

The Bad, the Good, the Ugly, and ...


Who would have guessed last February that come Thanksgiving we’d not only still be fighting the coronavirus but that it would be worse than ever? As I write this, I just heard Gov. Mark Gordon on NPR national news, saying that all hospitals in Wyoming are at capacity and some are putting tents outside.

Who would’ve thought.


The Bad: A hoax?

With so many people saying that it was all a hoax, could we even have imagined that as of mid-September, 245,000 Americans would be dead from the virus? That’s like losing half the entire population of Wyoming. Wars haven’t done that to us. Other security threats haven’t come close. Hoax? We all wish that it had been.

And not just because of the 12 million people who’ve suffered from the disease.

The other big negative has been the impact on the economy and jobs. Predictably, both slumped, then recovered and now? States are tightening up again, and banks are looking at their loan portfolios, worrying about huge real estate defaults caused by block after block of empty office buildings and echoing city streets. The next big recession could be right around the corner.


The Good: We can fly?

The COVID story has some positives. One of the biggest comes out of the digital world, where we’ve been forced onto a steep learning curve.

Never did most of us expect to see our grandmothers and fathers signing onto Zoom, as one example. Never did I think that I’d be as comfortable attending a virtual meeting and actually enjoying it. Heck. In some cases, I now prefer it.

You might say that we’ve learned a new form of flight ... virtually. With the press of a button we’re in New York or Paris or San Antonio or just across town. At any time of the day or night, we can engage in Zoom-type conversations with colleagues or friends from an almost unlimited number of different communities, states, or countries.

This also means working from home has become both practical and much more profitable for a growing number of professions. Distance working began before the virus, of course, but only as an experimental thing. Did anyone seriously think that an image in front of a bookshelf wall would be the way we see our colleagues of the future?

Well, the bookshelves may go away as a backdrop to be replaced by what? Home office staging might even become a profession. Who knows?

The point is new professions are proliferating and even jobs that don’t particularly lend themselves to being digitalized have seen a revolution. Take real estate. It seems incredible, but people are willing to shell out huge sums after little more than a virtual tour of a property.


The Ugly: Next?

So, yes, it has not been all bad. But it’s far from over, even though science has come to our rescue. In an amazingly short amount of time, the labs have given us two vaccines that both look more effective than any of our flu shots. Hopefully, they and others coming on stream will live up to their promises. But …

Here’s where another of the negatives caused by the virus come in. Instead of drawing us together, the virus became a political issue. Instead of being treated like an illness — something to be cured — it was weaponized and used to divide us. If the virus could laugh, it certainly would, for we created a perfect environment for it to spread.

So, now, here we are with vaccines that could be distributed as early as January. All we need is an effective government to set up an efficient distribution system. January is also when we transition from one set of government officials to another.

Normally, this would not matter. Throughout our history, no matter the acrimony in the election process, that transition has proceeded almost seamlessly. The defeated officials have always helped their successors for the good of the nation. Not this year. Not when we need it the most, when getting the vaccine to many is literally a matter of life and death. Instead, what do we have?

Well, we all know the answer to that.


And the best

Remember when we once said, “Wyoming is what America was?” I like to think that’s still true, that we represent the best in democracy. We settle our differences at the polling stations. If we win, great. If we lose, we accept our defeats and get on with working for the common good. That was the pre-COVID American way. That still is our Wyoming way as we work together to protect each other and survive societal, economic and medical challenges.