illustration by Josh Gates
Life during the reign of COVID-19 has been weird, and it will continue to get weirder. Articles by a variety of outlets including The Seattle Times and Forbes have outlined the ways that America is no longer looked to for leadership, a development that the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) has only just made clear.
Worldwide fears about the decline of America’s values in favor of misplaced priorities have come into full view. The globe watched a country fail to prepare for viral spread when given ample time to do so. When the coronavirus arrived, the globe watched the U.S. fail to provide any cohesive plan to stop its spread. America used to be a country of ideals people dreamed of—and maybe some still do; but the most likely outcome of our nation’s epically botched response shows that we are no longer a light on a hill, but a cavernous nation of people whose leadership favors arrogant self-aggrandizement over concern for the well-being of its citizens.
However, in a time when people around the country are being told to choose between democracy and concern for the health and well-being of themselves and those they love, we live in Oregon! Our statewide vote-by-mail system is incredible and we don’t have to do very much of anything to make sure every Oregonian can safely exercise their voting rights during this time. Oregon may have acted later than some places, but the robust responses by our Governor and other local leaders have done a very good job of flattening our state’s corona curve. We should feel lucky to live here, not every state is as fortunate as we are to have seen the largely suppressed viral spread as we have. It has been uncomfortable, painful, and for some people boring as hell (see: someone drove a car onto a boat dock [not at all for cars] in SE on the Willamette and others shut down traffic on the upper level of the Fremont bridge to do a bunch of Tokyo Drift-adjacent burnout donuts, and on single day four citations were issued in the Portland Metro area for people driving 100+ miles above the posted speed limit [quite goddamn fast]).
Yes, the cover of the last issue was about coronavirus. Yes, so is the cover of this one. The unfortunate reality of this moment is that every day there are new and deadly developments surrounding the spread of COVID-19. This issue looks at some of the ways people are coping with the isolation we’re all experiencing. We look at various ways that our country can choose our destiny moving forward after seeing the deep cracks in our social safety net and healthcare system. While some have been staying at home, we have declared healthcare, education, grocery, sanitation, and others essential workers who need to keep working for our society to be able to continue. We examine how, just maybe, this crisis will allow these underpaid and under supported workers to gain respect, support, and bargaining power to allow them to safely work with dignity. We look at how the globe is racing to develop a vaccine so our lives can return to normal. We see how the internet can be a pathway to create connection or a rabbit hole of division. We look at the importance of word choice. And we take a glimpse into the ongoing tragedy of the war in Yemen.
Despite the deluge of depressing and eye-rolling head-slamming-against-a-wall-because-the-palm-doesn’t-quite-do-it-justice-anymore news, there are tons of people reaching out to help each other: making face shields and face masks and delivering food and essential supplies to people who need help. There are workers in hospitals and grocery stores risking their lives so that we can keep ours. We owe them a lot, the least we can do is to continue to practice social distancing, keep washing our hands, and stay the fuck at home. The more we do our part, the less overwhelmed our healthcare systems around the country will be, the less people we know will die, and the sooner we can get back to normal life. We could be stuck in this universe for another few months. Maybe we’ll be living like this for another year or two. Treat yourselves and others with kindness and compassion, we’re all going through a lot right now.
Partying on from a distance,