Put a nail in the coughin’.

I just stole my title from Jim Goad’s post on Takimag.com called don’t cough on me, bro. In fact, I have stolen most of his post and now present it to you. Prepare to “hate” a few “covidiots”.

The Department of Justice recently issued a memo about COVID-19 implying that “Threats to intentionally infect other people” could be classified as terrorism. Of course, it’s never “terrorism” when the government scares everyone, which is basically what they do for a living. Any government that fails at keeping its citizens constantly terrified is quickly overthrown. But on this one small point I can agree—at a time when almost everyone is on edge, anyone who purposely tries to amplify the fear should be squashed like a bug.

In Missouri, a 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with making terroristic threats for licking food items at a Walmart while saying “Who’s afraid of the coronavirus?,” then uploading the video to YouTube. In Illinois, a man has been arrested after coughing on both food and people at a supermarket while recording himself. A group of “juveniles” in Virginia has been arrested for coughing on supermarket produce and uploading the videos to social media.

A Pennsylvania man is facing charges after reportedly laughing while coughing in an elderly, mask-wearing man’s face at a supermarket and telling him he has the coronavirus. Two New York State women have been arrested after allegedly coughing on employees and telling them they had coronavirus, then pepper-spraying employees when they ran outside to catch their license-plate number. A Wisconsin woman was banned from a supermarket after licking a freezer handle and claiming it was a form of “protest” against the pandemic. A Missouri man was taken into custody after allegedly coughing at customers and writing “COVID” on a cooler at a Dollar Tree store. In Minnesota, a man was arrested because according to a police statement: The man became frustrated using the self-checkout lane and coughed on a white female employee who tried to help him. The employee quickly backed away….A black male employee intervened, and that’s when the man said that racial minorities, namely blacks and others of Asian descent, are to blame for the coronavirus pandemic.

In upstate Pennsylvania, a supermarket was forced by police to toss out $35,000 worth of produce after a woman coughed all over it as part of a “twisted prank.” The same viral behavior has replicated itself at stores in New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, and New Jersey.

I’m always bemused to see people who have nervous breakdowns at imaginary crimes such as “misgendering” who think they’d be able to handle the murderous stress of being a cop for even a minute, much less a lifetime. And naturally, since they’re one of the few groups who absolutely have to be out in public right now witnessing people lose their minds in real time, cops are being spat upon left and right.

In Denver, a woman who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after allegedly plowing into four parked cars reportedly spit in a police officer’s face and said, “There’s some corona for you, now all you need is a lime.” In Manchester, England, a man has been jailed for six months after coughing on a police officer and telling him, “I am Covid and I am going to cough in your face and you will get it. A 20-year-old New Jersey man has been arrested for aggravated assault and making terroristic threats after not only kicking police, but coughing and spitting on them while claiming he has the coronavirus. In Florida, 23-year-old Christian Perez made things worse for everyone after being stopped for reckless driving and then coughing in officers’ faces while saying he had COVID-19. “I have the coronavirus and I hope you have it now,” a Texas woman allegedly barked to a state trooper after coughing on him when he’d dared to arrest her for outstanding warrants.  A Pennsylvania woman has been arrested for removing her face mask and intentionally coughing in an officer’s face four times. In New Jersey, a woman who was arrested for drunk driving allegedly coughed on an officer and told him, “Oh, by the way, I have the coronavirus and so do you now.”

As if hospital workers aren’t facing enough terror right now, a fat and ugly Maryland man who has COVID-19 has been arrested after allegedly coughing on several hospital workers and saying it didn’t matter because no one cared about him, anyway. Even more bizarrely, a Connecticut doctor has been arrested for purposely hugging and coughing on nurses at his hospital. A Colorado man who says he was “stressed” after losing his job and “aggravated” about how people were responding to the crisis apparently thought it would be a good idea to cough in an elderly woman’s face after she asked him to maintain a safe distance from her on a hiking trail.

A Rhode Island middle-school teacher is being investigated after tweeting that she would pay people who were infected with coronavirus to cough on Donald Trump. A New York man named Baruch Feldheim who has been arrested for allegedly hoarding nearly 200,000 medical masks also reportedly coughed on FBI agents while claiming he had COVID-19. Two Pennsylvania men have been arrested after a gas-station incident where one of them scolded the other for coughing in public without covering his mouth, then allegedly drove his car into the man, who then allegedly fired four shots at the man’s car.

On March 21, a Detroit bus driver recorded an eight-minute video that went viral in which he complained about passengers wantonly coughing in public: We out here as public workers, doing our jobs, trying to make an honest living to take care of our families, but for you to get on the bus and stand on the bus and cough several times without covering up your mouth…that lets me know that some folks don’t care. Utterly don’t give a fuck, excuse my language. Less than two weeks later, the driver was dead of complications from COVID-19.

Thankfully, here in Spokane, most of the people I encountered at the Safeway and Trader Joe’s have taken to wearing masks, whereas last week I saw hardly any. My physical therapist’s office just decided to require all patients and the staff to wear masks. About time.

Do you wonder “where did all these stupid asinine people come from?” I suggest you watch Fail Army, on YouTube. We might as well get a few laughs while we wait for what’s next. https://www.youtube.com/user/failarmy

The kind of crisis that shows how mature you are?

It’s a Lamborghini Huracan, not a “wipe-your-can”

In a crisis when the good of all hinges on the sacrifices of many, or can be unhinged by the irresponsibility of few, “maturity” becomes more crucial than ever. How I am defining maturity includes:

  1. Being more careful than usual before speaking; choose to encourage rather than discourage: I was grocery shopping the other day, and the cashier immediately wiped down the card reader, my credit card, and every surface within her reach with disinfectant wipes. There were two things I thought of saying. “Do you realize that the instructions on those wipes say ‘the surface must remain wet (from the wipes) for 4 minutes’?” and “thank you.” I only said “thank you for doing that, and for working in these conditions.” Why not the other? No one will keep wiping surfaces like that for 4 minutes. Repeating those instructions might have simply discouraged her. I choose to encourage her.
  2. Flexibility to switch gears when the need arises: Starting in late January, around the time when the Chinese city of Wuhan was put under lockdown, Chinese communities across the US had sprung into action, organizing donations of masks and protective gear to relieve the massive shortages in Chinese hospitals. But by the time March rolled around, China’s need for supplemental supplies tapered off, while cities in the US became tragically reminiscent of Wuhan in its early days. In response, those same Chinese donation operations that had rallied for Chinese health providers quickly reversed their course to focus on donating supplies from China to US recipients, where hospitals are still so understocked that medical staff have resorted to reusing masks far beyond the requisite contamination window, and wearing trash bags for protection.
  3. Doing more than just obeying (let alone defying) the rules laid down to protect us all: 430,000 people have arrived in the U.S. since the Chinese officials disclosed the deadly virus in January. Passengers continued traveling from Beijing to Los Angeles and New York under rules exempting Americans from the clampdown, which took place Jan. 31. Roughly 279 flights arrived in the U.S. from China. I won’t even mention the “springbreakers” and other scofflaws, which include “baby boomers” in denial about the dangers.
  4. Resisting the temptation to use the crisis as an excuse to shirk responsibilities: From Esteban Elizondo, NY Post: Leave it to Yale students to make a crisis about themselves. While worldwide death tolls from the coronavirus grow exponentially every day, these privileged Ivy Leaguers are putting their (supposedly) considerable brainpower into getting out of homework. That’s right. About 24 hours after the semester went online due to coronavirus fears, Yale students demanded a “Universal Pass” policy for the semester. No grades, deadlines or benchmarks. Everyone automatically passes their classes. The university, led by mollycoddler-in-chief Peter Salovey, is feeding this defeatist mentality, allowing Yale students to become accustomed to the university dropping its academic standards whenever they’re mildly inconvenienced. After President Trump got elected, students demanded midterms be canceled because of the adverse effects on their mental health. Professors capitulated. Universal Pass, unsurprisingly, has been framed as a fight for low-income students. Infantilizing the disadvantaged is a typical activist behavior at Yale. Whether protesters are “striking” because of climate change’s effect on indigenous communities or pushing for the nullification of grades because a slipping economy will harm low-income students, the demands of elite Yalies always conveniently line up with those of the underprivileged. But, in reality, this latest crusade is just an excuse to do less work and abolish academic standards altogether. In my four years at Yale, I was consistently shocked by the creative excuses used by my peers to skip classes and exams. 
  5. Using the enforced isolation and “time away” to good advantage: In 1665, “social distancing” orders emptied campuses throughout England, as the bubonic plague raged, killing 100,000 people (roughly one-quarter of London’s population), in just 18 months. A 24-year-old student from Trinity College, Cambridge was among those forced to leave campus and return indefinitely to his childhood home. His name was Isaac Newton and his time at home during the epidemic would be called his “year of wonders.” Away from university life, and unbounded by curriculum constraints and professor’s whims, Newton dove into discovery. Newton himself would say about this forced time away from university life: ‘For in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention & minded Mathematics & Philosophy more than at any time since.’”
  6. Think long and hard about how you will behave in the worst case scenario: From Ed Yong in The Atlantic: There are three possible endgames: one that’s very unlikely, one that’s very dangerous, and one that’s very long. The first is that every nation manages to simultaneously bring the virus to heel, as with the original SARS in 2003. Given how widespread the coronavirus pandemic is, and how badly many countries are faring, the odds of worldwide synchronous control seem vanishingly small. The second is that the virus does what past flu pandemics have done: It burns through the world and leaves behind enough immune survivors that it eventually struggles to find viable hosts. This “herd immunity” scenario would be quick, and thus tempting. But it would also come at a terrible cost: SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible and fatal than the flu, and it would likely leave behind many millions of corpses and a trail of devastated health systems.

The third scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. This is the best option, but also the longest and most complicated. It depends, for a start, on making a vaccine. If this were a flu pandemic, that would be easier. The world is experienced at making flu vaccines and does so every year. But there are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses — until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare — so researchers must start from scratch. It’s likely, then, that the new coronavirus will be a lingering part of American life for at least a year, if not much longer. If the current round of social-distancing measures works, the pandemic may ebb enough for things to return to a semblance of normalcy. Offices could fill and bars could bustle. Schools could reopen and friends could reunite. But as the status quo returns, so too will the virus. This doesn’t mean that society must be on continuous lockdown until 2022. But “we need to be prepared to do multiple periods of social distancing,” says Stephen Kissler of Harvard.

How will YOU be acting during scenario three? This scary epidemic is in the early stages, and my next post shows how badly many “covidiots” are already acting. You will wish this virus could selectively thin them out.