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OPINION
August 6, 2020

5/20/2020 12:38:00 PM
Time to leave denial, anger behind

Denial. It's the very first stage of grief, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

It seems that Americans are stuck in both of the first stages - denial and anger. Indeed, life as we all knew it - here and around the globe - has turned upside down in what seems like the blink of an eye.

Metropolitan areas, like New York, residents have been in strict lockdown for nine weeks. Just watch TV, and you'll see New York-based journalists and talk-show hosts broadcasting from their own homes.
It's unprecedented, to be sure.

Sadly, folks in less-populated cities and states who haven't witnessed the same numbers of sick and dead don't want to believe that this disease could kill them and those they love.

Rather than staying home and wearing masks in public, so many believe everyone should live and let live.

In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court struck down the governor's stay-at-home orders and, without hesitation, people poured out into the streets and into the close quarters of bars and restaurants. Images on the news show mostly wait staff wearing masks; everyone else is drinking and laughing, even though studies show 45 percent of those infected won't know they have been exposed - and have exposed countless others - until it's too late to prevent the spread.

Florida, a state with the highest population of senior citizens - considered one of the most vulnerable groups to the disease - has scorned stay-at-home policies and reopened their beaches with few, if any, restrictions.

Watch these spaces. We hope experts are wrong, but so far all we've seen elsewhere is that this will do nothing but increase the number of those suffering and dying for weeks to come.

It seems against all logic to behave this way, but that's where the long-standing stages of grief can make sense of it.

As of Sunday, nearly 90,000 lives have been lost. That number could easily be between 95,000 to 100,000 dead by the time you read this newspaper. But no one seems to comprehend this number.

We have an administration and entire media outlets telling their followers only what they want to hear - that everything's fine, the virus and all things that go with it are a hoax intended to undermine our civil rights.

(If it was a hoax, though, why would the president and vice president undergo daily testing? Asking for a friend.)

Those in denial cling to what's said by people willing to lie to them, that all is fine, no matter how far that is from the truth.

And many, feeling helpless about the situation - because we are, indeed, at the mercy of this virus - have let anger take over.

Those folks are lashing out at anyone who doesn't see things the way
they want to see them. And there are far more Americans who
recognize this threat and see the truth for what it is, not for what we wish it was.

People are dying from this virus and the complications associated with it at the rate of 2,000 to 2,500 per day. And, at 88,000 so far, that's enough to fill most stadiums, and 6,000 more than the entire population of Bartholomew County, which ranks at No. 19 of all county populations in Indiana. It's also twice the population of Jackson County, and even more than the combined populations of Jennings, Jefferson, Decatur and Scott counties.

But denial is easier here, because the death rate, so far, has remained low. We hope America will slip into the "acceptance" stage sooner than later, and everyone will finally unite in taking responsibility, to do what is desperately needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save as many lives as we can.





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