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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Less than a week to the election

COVID-19 is raging and so is Donald Trump

By Will Collette

Well, for a while Rhode Island was lauded for its leadership in fighting the pandemic. No more as we are now the worst state in the Northeast by most metrics and categorized as in a state of “uncontrolled spread.” The growth in cases and hospitalizations has been driven by younger people – 60% of all cases are in patients under age 50.

Case rates, measured as the number of positive cases per 100,000, are high all over the state especially in our urban core. Providence’s case rate is 5,176 per 100,000 compared to the state average of 139. 1,118 Rhode Islanders have died so far.

Charlestown’s rate is 604 per 100,000, much higher than the state average, but not nearly as bad as Narragansett at 2,096 likely caused by its beaches and URI off-campus housing.

Watch out for fake mail-in ballots such as this one
sent out by the Rhode Island Republican Party

Ready availability of a safe and effective vaccine is still months away.

Recovery and re-opening is stalled and we may even see re-imposition of restrictions. Restaurants and bars, as well as many close-contact businesses (e.g. gyms, hairdressers) may have to close again or further tighten their hours and occupancy.

Please note when you vote – if you haven’t already – that the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) that controls the town of Charlestown has done absolutely NOTHING to help struggling Charlestown residents and businesses – even though they had options to do so, given our large budget surplus.

If you plan to vote in person, either early or on November 3, your RI Driver’s License or state-issued ID is still valid as an election ID even if it is expired, as long as the expiration date is March 1 or later. 

If you are still holding a mail-in ballot, the safest thing to do at this point is to drop it off at the official drop box just outside the main entrance to Town Hall.

In Charlestown, 2,555 2,723 out of 6,115 active, registered voters have already cast their ballots. That’s 42% 45% compared to the state average of 25.5%.27%.

We’re pretty much on our own.

Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell has used his power to block legislation passed by the House to help the unemployed, small businesses, state and municipal governments and to help keep people alive and allow the economy to continue to limp along rather than completely crash.

Donald Trump doesn’t give a shit – “we’re rounding the corner,” he says – leaving us to wonder what corner that might be and what is lurking on the other side.

After the election, win or lose, Trump will do nothing to help stem the pandemic or repair the economy. If he wins, he no longer has any incentive. If he loses, he will be more interested in looking for ways to punish us all – or escape punishment for himself. Probably both. Remember, there are 75 days between Election Day and the Inauguration.

Even if Trump pardons himself and his crime family, his pardon – if legal and upheld – would only apply to federal crimes. A pardon would not apply to the slew of crimes the State of New York is ready to prosecute. Attica! Attica! Attica!

Maybe he will use those 75 days to flee the country. Russia would be a logical place for him to seek asylum since it has no extradition treaty with the US. It would be interesting to see if Vladimir Putin treats him as a returned hero or as a no longer “useful idiot.”

Saudi Arabia is another possibility. He could pick Djibouti but I think Trump had them on his list of “shithole countries.”

A vaccine cometh

We don’t know when exactly or which one (or two or three) it will be and whether it will require one shot or two. Or even IF there will be a coronavirus vaccine.

That said, the state does have a plan to prioritize who gets it.

In the first phase, vaccines will go to high-risk health care workers and first responders, followed by people with serious illnesses and seniors in congregate living facilities.

In the second phase, teachers, school staff and child care workers are first. Then critical workers in high-risk jobs, people with moderate health conditions, then the homeless, the incarcerated and the rest of the senior citizen population.

In the third phase, priority goes to young adults, children and workers in vital industries.

This priority list seem fair and practical to me. I will be watching Dr. Tony Fauci on this issue, whether or not Trump fires him. He, as well as ousted vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright, are trustworthy sources for vaccine information, especially which one is best as well as which ones are safe and effective.

We’re all in this together

Though I’m as anxious about the election, the pandemic and the general state of our country as much as the next person, I am also hopeful that we can pull out of this if we all work together.

More people than ever seem engaged in today’s multiple crises and, I hope, in a positive way that will give us the change we need at the polls next week. Trump and his GOP enablers have got to go. So do our own local tyrants.

We can only beat the pandemic if we all behave like good citizens. I ran into my first “mask-hole” at Job Lot last week. I could hear her coming as she was telling another person who apparently didn’t like her failure to wear a mask that “it’s all a hoax by that World Health Organization that’s controlled by Democrats.”

When she rounded that corner and was just about in my face, I challenged her – “where’s your mask?” I asked.

She said she was exempt under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She seemed pretty able-bodied and there was nothing wrong with her lungs which she used loud and long to dismiss the pandemic and denounce anyone who would dare to challenge her right to go maskless.

After trying to be reasonable, I have to admit that I fell back on those trusty words that George Carlin said you can never say on TV. Even her accompanying daughter – who was wearing a face mask – seemed embarrassed. Eventually, store staff got involved and brought the covidiot a mask which she, of course, refused to put on.

But this is the first and only time I’ve personally run into a person like this. In my forays for groceries and supplies, I’ve see universal compliance without complaint to mask wearing and social distancing. This one incident highlights the fact that we can indeed help ourselves and each other.