This letter is for all of the states now on our quarantine list, which, it turns out, is pretty much all of them outside the Northeast.
Hi! This is Connecticut. You know, the little northeastern state with great pizza, high quality of life, and New England charm? Doesn’t ring a bell? We’ve got small cities and a beautiful shoreline and grouchy people and … still no, huh?
Okay, fine. We’re the one between Boston and New York with the traffic jams. Know who we are now? Good.
We’re having a hard time understanding why you let things get this bad. There’s a lot about the rest of the country that doesn’t always make sense to us, like the distinct lack of split-top hot dog buns west of the Hudson, but usually we just chalk it up to regional differences and get on with our lives.
But this is different.
The coronavirus is still raging out of control in most states, five full months after it first started showing up in the United States. In other parts of the world, things are actually going back to normal. In Taiwan they’re having baseball—with fans in attendance! And we here in the Northeast were actually on the same track.
We were beating this thing! We were hit early and we were hit hard, just like our neighbors in New York, but we had smart, capable people in government and brave, hard-working healthcare personnel, and by May we were seeing a dramatic drop in cases and deaths.That downward trend continued until mid-June, when things kind of stalled out.
Now our numbers are going back up. It’s slow, but it’s steady, and we’re bracing for it to get worse before it gets better. Given how bad things got for us in April, and how hard our people worked and how much we sacrificed, this is absolutely gut-wrenching.
Was it all for nothing?
Do you realize that by bearing the brunt of the first wave, the people of the Northeast bought you precious time to prepare? We had only days to decide what to do as the virus spread, undetected, through our population. Everything happened here in two panicky, rushed weeks in March, and then we shut it all down and coped as best we could.
You had so much more time. You could have prevented the virus from ever becoming as bad as it was here.
But what did you do with all that time? Did you ready mask mandates, did you make sure to close bars and beaches, did you get what equipment you could for your hospitals and educate your people?
No. Too many of you decided that it was more important to protect the economy than the people. Too many of you fell for the anti-science, culture-war nonsense coming out of the mouth of the president. And look what’s come of that—the economy is still in ruins, and there are 150,000 Americans dead.
That’s why we’ve had to make our list. If anyone travels from one of those states to Connecticut, they’re required to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
But it’s not like we can put up guard posts on I-95 and I-84. We can’t wall ourselves off from the rest of the country. So the virus is coming back in, and descending on a population who thought, rightly, that they had done their job to defeat it already.
We’re not going to jump up and down and yell about how this is all your fault, even though we’d be justified in doing so. We will share what we’ve learned, and hope you can turn things around before they get even worse.
Masks and shutdowns work. Educating the people works. The leaders of states suffering from the virus now must not be so afraid of the political consequences of doing the right thing, of leading, that they simply allow people to die. Mandate masks. Shut down the economy. Close the bars. Forget about school. Test, report, and trace. You have to.
But here’s the most important and painful lesson we learned: you are on your own. The federal government did not care if we got PPE and ventilators. The people at the very top in Washington were content to let us die because of politics. They don’t care, and help is not on the way.
Which means it’s up to you, and only you, to stop this thing. We believe in you. You have a friend in us, and we’re rooting for you all the way.
Just please, for goodness’ sake, cancel your travel plans.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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