Examples set by Beshear, Trump show elections have consequences

Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Contributing columnist

These days are stressful and anxiety-producing. If you get your news about the global pandemic from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, you hear that things are getting worse, as predicted, but aren’t as bad (yet) as it could be with the precautions put in place by his executive orders.

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If you get your news from Donald Trump, things are bad-ish but should be fine in 15 days or so. 

Gov. Beshear has slowly and calmly brought activity in our state to an almost complete standstill. I didn’t realize how noisy we made our little world until we stopped moving. It’s incredible to hear the birds in the morning when I normally hear school buses and commuters going about their day.

I was one of the skeptics when the coronavirus reporting was first coming from China. We’d made it through Ebola, H1N1, and zika. I honestly didn’t think this was anything to worry about.

Then Italy shut down. And South Korea. And reports from Iran were bleak.

The news about the virus was that it affected older people and those with underlying health issues. I didn’t fit into either category, so I wasn’t worried.

My arrogance changed to concern when I learned that I could be a carrier without symptoms and potentially infect someone who is compromised. I thought first of my in-laws who I love like my own parents. I thought about friends who are going through, and have been through, treatment for cancer. I have a former student who received a new kidney a year ago. They are our vulnerable people and require protection.

The impact isn’t just on health. Our economy is taking a major hit, too.

Thousands of Kentuckians are out of work with zero income. I worry about friends who have spent years building their small businesses, who are concerned about how they will make it. My friend who does my hair, a former student who owns her own nail salon, musicians who gig for living — these people don’t have unemployment insurance. They fall into the cracks with no safety nets.

Parents are home trying to help their children make through the NTI packets hastily put together by educators who don’t know when they will see their students again.

Those who continue to work must feel concerned about the roulette of this virus.

Our healthcare community is in crisis. I read a blog post yesterday that compared the current U.S. system to that of Russia during the Cold War. Our country can’t manage to produce enough Personal Protective Equipment to keep those on the front lines safe.

But being Americans, we forge ahead. There are groups (mostly women) who are sewing protective masks as fast as they can get the materials. A group here in Boyle County is actively producing lifesaving equipment from their homes for our local healthcare workers.

There is a silver lining to our current situation. The massive pollution cloud that hangs over China has dissipated. In Venice, Italy, the world-famous canals are flowing with clear water. It’s been reported that you can actually see the fish swimming! In my little neighborhood, the birds are so happy that they sing with seemingly extra joy and exuberance. As it turns out, when people stay home, Mother Earth heals.

As we continue to move through this crisis, the reality of “elections have consequences” has never been clearer. Governors are leading their states and their people through even deeper restrictions than the federal government recommends. Watch the daily press conferences to see the difference. Gov. Beshear stands alone at the lectern with his ASL interpreter six feet away from him. Trump and his acolytes gather around the lectern as if they are about to breakout into song. (Why doesn’t Trump have an ASL interpreter?)

When we get to the other side of this virus, keep in mind how it was handled. Would you want the health of your most vulnerable loved one in the hands of Gov. Beshear, who is keeping schools closed through April 20? Or you rather gamble on someone like Trump, who thinks this will pass in 15 days?

Are you willing to risk your loved one to hang out with Sen. Rand Paul, who has tested positive on the off chance this is just a hoax?

Elections have real world, boots-on-the-ground consequences.

“If you don’t choose to do it in leadership time up front, you do it in crisis management time down the road.” — Stephen Covey

Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.