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By Diana Diamond

When will this end?

Uploaded: May 12, 2020

Who would have ever thought that a tiny little virus, a microorganism, would have the wherewithal to cause our entire world to come to a standstill? Hundreds of countries have been affected by COVID-19; most countries have empty streets as residents stay locked inside their houses; million are infected and thousands have died. Who would have ever though this all could happen in one month?

I think we feared a nuclear bomb or two might explode, causing chaos and damage in one part of the world. But not the entire planet, as this little virus has accomplished.

We’ve been great locally about trying to control the coronavirus. We’ve stayed at home. Our roads are nearly empty, our traffic jams have disappeared – in fact, traffic has disappeared, we’ve patiently stood on lines spacing our selves six feet away from another, we are wearing face masks, our stores are uncrowded – and we haven’t complained

Our skies are bluer, the air is cleaner, and airplane noise has disappeared. In Italy, the filthy canals in Venice and now clean and blue, we may be controlling our CO2 emissions, our dogs are getting more daily walks, -- there are a lot of good things that are happening. Many are finding that working from home may be preferable from going to the office every day. So there are a lot of good things happening.

And terrible things. Thousands are unemployed, our economy is tanking (as are other economies around the world), people are going hungry, “vacation” is so last month in what we think about, our federal government response to the virus has been a series of nonhappenings which is why our deaths are higher than those of an y other country. It’s very scary.

So now we are asking, when will this end? Will we have a vaccine?
When will we be back to normal?

Humans live on hope, and our leaders hopefully promise us things will get better. We wait for summer heat that may, possibly, harm this little microorganism; we see a leveling off of viral occurrences, we see states trying to open up, for various practical and political reasons.

And yet, and yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday a big resurgence of the virus will come this fall unless we continue the lockdown. Opening up states for business does not help. The summer heat probably won’t get rid of this virus. And if we do have an autumnal breakout, we will not give up hope, but probably will get depressed. How many more will die?

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, and I am neither a scientist nor an economist, but when I look around I think we have serious problems facing us in the near and distant future.

Let’s say a vaccine is found, which would be great. But it will be awhile before we all get it, because it takes time – a long time -- to produce a vaccine for 360 million people.

And when will people feel it’s safe to go back to work? Or to a restaurant or a theater? After they have a vaccine?

What about our schools? Our children have lost a half-year of studying, and when they return to the classroom, students will be at different levels, depending on how much home schooling they have had. Will they need a vaccine first? How do we make up for half a year?

Look at our downtowns. Palo Alto is pretty much shuttered; restaurants are open for take-out only; some restaurants many not – or are not – surviving, as in bankruptcy. When they are gone, how do we find new ones to replace them? How do we find retail to move into our downtown? And when – two or three years from now? Our city budget is being cut $40 million – is this the beginning or the end of the cuts? When will hotels get filled up, and when will the city get the hotel taxes it relies so heavily on? And when will people shop in stores and pay sales tax again?

What about all those dreams about future projects – a new police station, a bike bridge across 101, BART coming to San Jose? Most are being put on hold. For how long? Each project represents a lot of construction people going back to work.

I don’t know when things will become normal again. I am (almost" /> sure it will not be this fall, but maybe next spring? I have hope; we all must have hope.

Our lives and our society will change, in what ways I do not know, but we are great people, and when we put our minds to it, can accomplish more than we know.

Hope springs eternal.