During the Vietnam War, the primary news was daily body counts. While the consensus was that was no way to cover a war, nobody thought of anything better. As for the collateral damage in wounded and broken men, mostly forgotten along with their equally broken families, we’re still living with it forty-five years later.
During the COVID-19 invasion, the news has also provided daily body counts, primarily cases, and death tolls. Once again, these figures didn’t tell us much about the pandemic, except that it got better, and then it got worse. As for the collateral damage of grieving survivors, a shattered health care system, lost jobs, bankrupted businesses, and related and unrelated social unrest and violence, we can say with a fair matter of certainty the pandemic has broken just about everything.
There are now rays of hope as a second vaccine is set to begin distribution tomorrow and Congress, in its typical dinosaur fashion, races deadlines to get a new stimulus package approved. So now the wait begins: how long will it take for the vaccines to make a dent in the deluge of body counts and broken dreams?
No matter what happens, we can count on dealing with the repercussions of COVID for the rest of our lives. The 45-year Vietnam fallout will be long forgotten before the door will finally be closed on the long term pandemic impacts.
In general, I’m an optimist in spite of my bouts of cynicism, so I’m going to hold onto my dream of a healthy, unified United States that provides opportunities for everyone. But we will need to pitch in and work at it. I hope we’re willing to do that.