Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Slow the Spread

On Saturday, March 28, there was a postcard in our mailbox: "Slow the Spread, President Trump's Coronavirus Guidelines for America." See above. I'm guessing that everyone in the country received this postcard.

I live in Vermont. This is Bernie Country, not Trump Country. Among my family and friends, the almost universal response to this postcard was to promptly send it to the recycling bin. But I'm a curious fellow, so I read it. My take? I thought it was well done.

I am now searching for new family and friends, but in the meantime let's take a closer look at the postcard. It was a joint effort of the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So far so good. Furthermore, there is a website that I didn't know about: coronavirus.gov. Take a look. It's a good resource. The website is well done, too.

If it were me, I would have put "Slow the Spread" in a larger font. That is the main message. My previous two blog posts support this message:
What jumps out on the front of the postcard is "President Trump's Coronavirus Guidelines for America." That is off-putting to the half of the country that does not support President Trump. But for the other half of the country, what better way to get their attention?

I don't recall ever receiving a postcard like this from any previous president. That in itself is noteworthy and drives home the point that these are not normal times. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld (link), we go to war against the coronavirus with the president we have, not the president we might wish to have.

My main quibble with the postcard is about the date: March 16, 2020. That was a Monday, one business day after President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday the 13th. That was quick work, but the postcard did not arrive until March 28. What took so long?

Perhaps I am too critical. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont mailed similar guidelines to our house and they did not arrive until March 30.

Let's take a look at the back of the postcard (click on the image to enlarge):
There is a lot of good information here, presented clearly and succinctly. It is an appropriate amount of information for a postcard, and it hits the major points that people need to know to "Slow the Spread."

I especially like the first point:

Listen and follow the directions of your STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

With tongue-in-cheek, I pointed out to my family at the dinner table that I was a local authority (elected selectboard member), and that they needed to listen to and follow my directions. They ignored me. They are busy searching for a new husband/father.

Joking aside, I am pleased with both the substance and the tone of the point about state and local authorities. I am also pleased that it is the first point on the back of the postcard. It shows that the federal government recognizes the importance of state and local governments. An excessively authoritarian president would not be making this point at all, let alone as his or her first point. Whatever his faults, and they are many, we need not fear that President Trump is a Hitler or a Stalin or a Mao.

The main burden of responding to the current pandemic lies with the governors, and there is a lot of good work being done across the country. Vermont Governor Phil Scott is widely praised for his actions (see his executive orders), as are the governors on either side of us – Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York and Governor Chris Sununu in New Hampshire.

We are all in this together. The virus knows no state boundaries or political parties.

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