29 March 2020

NOTE FROM NORM: Winning The War By Staying At Home

In the best of times Governors like Minnesota’s Tim Walz, New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom and I would stand miles apart on major public policy issues.

But these are not now the best of times.

Hopefully with strong leadership in Washington and that of other Republican and Democratic Governors across America, we will survive the worst of times.

We are at war.

At war with a pandemic.  Something called COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is attacking our world.

From one corner of the globe to another we are seeing this virus hurting and killing people of all ages, gender, health and wealth.

Its aim is to kill.  In its path will be anybody it can find to infect and then hope that those it has infected will do its dirty work for it and find others to infect, make sick and hopefully to kill.

The enemy here is not a foreign country.

It is a virus.  Yes, it originated in China but so what.

Let’s end the squabble on what you call something and , focus right now on finding a cure.

The virus is the enemy.

Not other nations.  Not other races.  Not other Americans.

In a blink of an eye our economy, which was running on nearly all cylinders, suddenly finds itself hobbled by the impact of this virus.

Almost overnight millions of Americans find themselves out of a job and desperately in need of financial help.

The stock market tanked.  Companies are going out of business.  And, there is an anxiety and fear that is palpable nearly everywhere one goes.

The streets of our major cities are like ghost towns. I flew the other night from DC. I was the only person going through security at a time it would normally be packed. There were 12 of us on the plane. And 187 empty seats.

I was masked and gloved. Kind of required when  you have half your lung capacity and are still fighting cancer.

But the staff checking you in and the plane’s crew wasn’t. I spoke with a number of them. They were fearful of the prospect of furloughs and lost wages.

Yet they were the lucky ones–they still had jobs.

That’s not true for the vast number of Americans whose businesses are shuttered. It’s not true for those who work in our restaurants , bars and the  hospitality industry who find themselves out of work.

Yet  the midst of this hopelessness it is essential that we strive to find  light at the end of this tunnel of darkness.

We have tools to fight this war and to win.

Congress and the President have worked together to pass a bill targeting over $2 trillion in relief to America.

We have brave doctors, nurses and others in health care and medicine who are on the frontline doing battle to save lives.

We have scientists and others looking for ways to protect the world faster and sooner than one could have ever thought possible.

We have those in grocery stores, pharmacies, dentist offices and truckers and so many others making sure we are fed, cared for and supplied and re-supplied.

The world is fighting back.

But the war is far from over.

As we await a proven and tested vaccine. As we await more effective treatment. As we await the development of herd immunity to this beast for which there is still no immunity-hope and faith must not be abandoned.

This is a war. And in war, not every battle is won-and yes there are casualties. This beast does kill.

But as new treatments are touted, faster and more widespread testing becomes a reality, and the race for a vaccine proceeds at breakneck speed, we close in on this enemy and defeat it.

Every war needs leaders.  And, it needs soldiers to fight the war.

America has both at every level of government to both lead and fight the war.

And, it has millions of us being called upon to take up arms against this enemy and do one simple thing:

Stay home.

I live in Minnesota where my Governor, Tim Walz, has called upon Minnesotans to stay home.

To remain at home – to avoid large gatherings – and to be on the frontlines in allowing health care professionals in Minnesota to get ahead of this beast called COVID-19.

As I noted earlier, I know what it’s like to battle a beast.  Mine has been cancer.

Now, like all my fellow Minnesotans, another beast has emerged to try to take my life on the same equal footing as everybody else.

Governor Walz and his decision to call upon Minnesotans to make this sacrifice is something all of us should heed.

This is War and our leaders, whether we voted for them or not, are equipped with information that is giving them guidance in making decisions in our best interest.

Many Americans are familiar with FDR’s admonition that “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

But the lines FDR spoke before them, and after them, are most relevant at this moment in time.

Before those lines he asserted that “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”

And after those lines he emphasized the nature of fear being “…nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Most importantly, I believe, he shared that “In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

It is time for all of us – Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservative or whatever ideology or party or philosophy defines you – to “…give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

There is no Governor who will willingly close down his state.  No Governor who believes that he will be re-elected on a platform of “I shut down my state.”

But, I believe, as sure as I believe in G-d and the goodness and greatness that is America – that each Governor calling upon his or her citizens to stay at home to defeat the enemy COVID-19 in our war against the pandemic – is making decisions and choices based on the best information they have available.

If Governor Tim Walz – or any other Governor of any other state – tells you that one of the most significant weapons we can deploy to win the battle, and the war, against COVID-19 is to stay at home.

Then stay at home.

Wash your hands

Practice social distancing-especially with mom and dad!.

Take care of yourself.

Take care of one another.

And, most of all, be the kind of American right now that you want to be when this is all over.