As more than a quarter of Wisconsin’s record-breaking 1,547 new daily cases came from UW-Madison students on Thursday, the situation in Madison is increasingly worrying. Continued spread among off-campus communities endangers all of Madison and Dane County, jeopardizing lives, local businesses and any return to normalcy. This doomed attempt to reopen will ultimately saddle local authorities with an outbreak that continues long after campus facilities close.
In short, what we all had feared — what we knew would be inevitable — has come true. The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases, the lockdown of campus dorms, with the misdirection of faulting individualistic behavior, UW-Madison has now fallen to the same fate as other universities around the country. And if leadership had made responsible decisions from the outset of this crisis, that is to protect its students and the greater Madison community, we would not be here, and we should not forget that.
My local Facebook group is a massive shitstorm of shaming right now because, get this, a bunch of high schoolers had a party and now two dozen of them are sick. I’m not immune to have side-eyed a dude or two (it’s always a dude, sorry) either not wearing a mask or taking it OFF once he’s inside (the FUCK, fellas) but let’s not confuse encouraging healthy behavior in our neighbors with collective action by our government.
People keep remarking on the lack of mourning for the COVID victims, especially compared with those of 9/11. It’s really not that hard to figure out why “we” aren’t “united” in our attempts to stop the virus and keep each other safe. There’s no incentive to do it. The point of things like that is to spur us to action. There was tremendous incentive to pull the country together after 9/11: it fed our need for a nice long war, in the endlessly good name of making sure this never happened again.
What is the incentive to collectively mourn the dead of coronavirus? It’s not like collective action to improve the lives of citizens by curing disease is something our GOP leaders are interested in. What purpose would it serve, for them? It would only remind people that when we’re not led by venal garbage trash we can do big things well and save one another.
There’s nothing in it for them.
And with the exception of kids like those above, nobody’s speaking up for those being fed into the woodchipper of this virus, whether they’re college students or delivery drivers. We need to amplify the voices saying this isn’t the way things had to be, and go to hell with the idea that it is.