‘It is, yet again, another classic case of government thumping its chest over some imaginary accomplishment. But in reality, when the press conference finished and reality has to set in, the burden is immediately passed to the private sector to do government’s job.’
IT’S an event no one wanted to celebrate: yesterday marked one entire year of being in quarantine. By now, we’ve all experienced various forms of quarantine: enhanced community, modified, general, localized, fortified, enriched with Vitamin C. While the latter two are obviously jokes, the situation we have found ourselves in the last year is no laughing matter. Businesses have been shuttered, livelihoods diminished, lives have been lost. To say that it has been a difficult year is to severely understate reality.
The question is: are we better off today than we were 366 days ago? In the last few days, I have found myself ordering household supplies online, including medicine and other necessities. Our family made the decision to limit even essential trips outside of our home in light of the surge of COVID-19 cases. That’s not to say that we were freely going out as we did in pre-pandemic times, as we have continued to refrain from taking leisure trips and small family gatherings. It was a literal flashback to a year ago, where I was able to take a trip to the grocery the Tuesday before lockdown was officially declared.
Again, you see the signs: chat groups are sharing photos of “full capacity for COVID cases” notices displayed at hospitals. Local government officials are trumpeting their curfew measures, as if the virus is somehow nocturnal. You hear stories of acquaintances of friends and co-workers who have caught COVID, and sadly, more deaths. And it makes you think: are we any better today? Perhaps the only thing I can think of is that some of our health workers have already received vaccinations. If government continues to gaslight the population into thinking that it is actually doing something of substance, then we can reasonably expect cases to continue surging. In that situation, it is only our healthcare workers who will be left holding the line, yet again. It is a small consolation that some of them are now better protected as they fight this battle for the rest of us.
We have not even begun seeing the vaccines procured by government funded by loans. As I understand it, the two vaccine shipments that arrived in the last two weeks were donations from the Chinese government and the European Union. There was also a suggestion from the Department of Labor and Employment that employers should shoulder the cost of vaccination for their employees – again, something not quite right about this “suggestion.” First, the bigger companies have already arranged for vaccinating their employees, as not everyone will be identified as part of the vulnerable (thereby priority) population. Second, this is terribly tone-deaf to the situation of small businesses – how can a small business owner even begin to think about accessing vaccines for his or her employees? It’s not as if the market is flooded with supply, and anyone can just go to a mall to buy these vaccines off the shelf.
It is, yet again, another classic case of government thumping its chest over some imaginary accomplishment. But in reality, when the press conference finished and reality has to set in, the burden is immediately passed to the private sector to do government’s job. We have seen the private sector step in numerous times – extending aid to the hardest hit, organizing food drives, ferrying our health workers who could not take public transportation to work, etc. How long can we actually keep this up? Another year, or more?
I don’t know about you, but seeing projections and calculations about when the country will return to pre-pandemic normalcy at our current vaccination rate is just horrifying.
Here’s to hoping that things will not be as bleak as perceived. And hopefully this lockdown anniversary will be the last for all of us.