Friday, May 8, 2020

Hank Sanders: Sketches #1717 - A stitch in time saves nine

  A stitch in time saves nine. This old folks' saying is personal to me. As a child, I was really rough on pants. I kept ripping them in the seams. Each time it was just a little rip at first, but it would keep getting bigger and bigger. My mother, who required us to sew our own seams, urged me to sew the rip as soon as it started. That way, she said, I would have to put in just a stitch or two. But if I waited, the rip would get bigger and bigger, requiring a whole lot more stitches. Sometimes I would not put in a stitch when the rip first started. I would just hope that the seam would not rip farther. It always got bigger and bigger. A stitch in time saves nine.

  On January 20, 2020, China advised the world that a new virus was extremely infectious and communicable. On January 22, two days later, the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded the alarm worldwide indicating that this virus had the potential for epidemic and pandemic proportions. On January 23, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, and nine other cities with a collective population of 30 million. It was time for a preparatory stitch or two in the seams of the public health garment of the United States of America. However, President Trump did not insert even one stitch. A stitch in time saves nine.

  Even before these actions by China and WHO, the intelligence agencies were warning the president of the possible dangers of this virus in Presidential Daily Briefings (PDB). However, he failed to respond except to praise Xi Jinping, the leader of China. It was time for a preventive stitch or two in the ripping seams, but the president was just hoping for the best. A stitch in time saves nine.

  Since the Chinese were closing down entire cities, that was powerful evidence of a big rip in the seams of the world's public health garment. China placed big stitches in the ripping seams by immediately locking down cities. As a result, the country with the biggest population in the world, 1.4 billion, ended up with just 83,966 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and 4,637 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. At the time China took its drastic actions of closing down Wuhan and other cities, the U.S. had just one case. The president said, “We have a plan, and we think it’s gonna be handled very well. We’ve already handled it very well.” It was time for a stitch in the ripping seam, but the president was just hoping for the best. A stitch in time saves nine.

  The COVID-19 virus was wreaking devastation in other countries. Over and over, these facts were brought to the attention of the president by U.S. intelligence agencies and others. However, no steps were taken to repair or prevent the further ripping of health seams. On January 30, the president said, “We think we have it very well under control. We have a very little problem in this country, and those people are all recuperating successfully.” The president was just hoping for the best. A stitch in time saves nine.

  The President did not act on reports of ripping seams. In fact, he moved in the opposite direction. His secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, told him on January 18 and January 30 that a dangerous situation was developing. That was a call for stitches. The president’s response was to state that Azar was being “alarmist.” He was just hoping for the best. A stitch in time saves nine.

  On January 31, 2020, there were five known cases of the coronavirus. The president finally recognized that the seams in the national health garment were ripping wide. He ordered a limit on certain flights from China. However, that was like putting one stitch at the end of a wide ripping seam when many stitches were required. China was an easy target politically, but no limits were placed on flights from Europe. So, tens of thousands flew from China to Europe and then traveled to California, Washington, New York, and other places. The president just kept hoping for the best. A stitch in time saves nine.

  On February 7, there were 11 known cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. It was an urgent time for stitches. The president said, “The virus hopefully becomes weaker with warmer weather and then gone.” Then on February 10, there were 12 cases. It was time for stitches, but the president said, “The heat, generally speaking, will kill this kind of virus.” On February 23, it was time for stitches, but the president said, “It is very much under control.” On February 26, it was an urgent, urgent time for  stitches, but the president said, “When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to zero, that’s a pretty good job well done.” On March 10, there were 300 confirmed cases, and the president said, “Just stay calm, it will go away.” The president was just hoping for the best. A stitch in time saves nine.

  The National Defense Act is a powerful national weapon. It allows the president to direct businesses to produce certain products to fight a national emergency, including tests for the virus, ventilators, masks, gloves, coverings, etc. It was time to place stitches in the supply chain. However, the president never fully employed the act to produce the products needed to help fight the pandemic. He belatedly called on General Motors to produce ventilators, but no provisions were made for tests or gloves or masks or other products. In stark contrast, he quickly imposed the National Defense Act to force workers in meat plants overrun with the workers infected with the coronavirus to return to work. The doctors and nurses and medics and others were endangered because no stitches were placed in the ripping supply chain. A stitch in time saves nine.

  The COVID-19 virus is in nearly 200 countries. The U.S. is the only country whose national leader did not take full charge of the pandemic efforts. Most leaders prepare for the worst and hope for the best. This president just kept hoping for the best. He even hoped that hydroxychloroquine and Lysol and light would cure the virus. Timely stitches would have saved tens of thousands of lives, hundreds of thousands from illnesses, and millions from joblessness. A stitch in time saves nine.

  No timely stitches were placed. As of the writing of this Sketches - May 6 - there are nearly 1,181,885 cases of the virus and nearly 70,000 deaths. And the numbers are still rising fast. The United States of America has at least four times as many cases as any other country in the world. Millions are suffering. Food lines are long. Virtually the entire economy had to be shut down. All because the leader of the richest, most powerful, most advanced country in the world did not timely place stitches in the seams of the ripping public health garment. A stitch in time saves nine.

EPILOGUE – We all miss opportunities in life, allowing seams to rip further. However, when we miss opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, that is a clear reflection of our judgment and/or our purpose. A stitch in time saves nine.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represented District 23 in the Alabama Senate from 1983 to 2018.

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