Every generation has their “where were you when … ” moment. One of my earliest memories was when President Kennedy was assassinated. Mom was ironing and I was playing with trucks on the floor.
The news came over the television and my mother set the iron down and just bawled and moaned uncontrollably. I remember it like it was yesterday. It scared me and I still can smell the odor of the shirt she scorched. The memory of President Kennedy’s assassination is seared on my memory because of my mother’s emotional reaction.
I saw a Sioux Falls television news anchor call our present situation “unprecedented.” That’s poppycock. There are plenty of medical precedents in history; the wave of polio attacking children and the panic it brought about, the Spanish flu with the millions of deaths it caused, the scourge of smallpox as well as the bubonic plague and the annihilation it produced. Economically, we have the precedents of the Great Recession of 2008, the stock market crash of 1987 and the Great Depression of the thirties. That may not be hyperbole, according to the President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve unemployment could reach 30% of the populace before we ride this out.
When the Great Depression spread misery across the land, the government acted and our government has taken some welcome steps in our current crisis. President Trump has invoked the Stafford Act to declare a national emergency and the Defense Production Act in order to get industry to pitch in, for example suggesting the auto industry make ventilators for the time being. Congress has been working on relief packages of one kind or another.
Private industry has pitched in; from television programs like The Resident donating actual medical supplies they use as props in the show, to the 3M plant in Aberdeen ramping up production of surgical masks and the like, to a Tennessee distillery stopping the production of whisky and converting its facility to the production of hand sanitizer. Good-old American know how and can-do spirit has kicked in.
The Food and Drug Administration needs to do its part as well. A study in France, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, has found that a specific formula of hydroxycholoroquine combined with azithromycin is effective in combating coronavirus.
We can set up studies ourselves but the U.S. should accept these French findings and get started on this treatment regimen immediately instead of reinventing the wheel all over again.
We know these medications are essentially safe because they are approved for other maladies, malaria for example. This kind of off label use is common in medicine. When my son had a planter’s wart on his foot, instead of cutting it out, the podiatrist prescribed Tagamet — a medication normally used in the treatment of stomach ulcers — and the planter’s wart went away never to return.
The good news is 100,000 people worldwide have now recovered from the coronavirus. However we need to do whatever we can, try whatever seems reasonable or has worked other places to recover quickly from this calamity. Our state and local governments are financed primarily through sales tax.
Seventy percent of our economy is based on consumer spending and it’s tough to spend when few places are open and consumers are homebound. Most of South Dakota’s economy is made up of self-employed citizens, small businesses with a few employees or professionals in private practice. There is a limit to how long they can be asked to hang on in the current climate.
Americans are tough. Our ancestors have weathered depressions, world wars, past pandemics, natural disasters and other catastrophes and so will we. Nothing can take our faith, hope, patriotism and resilience unless we allow it to. And we’re not about to let that happen.