The coronavirus pandemic is a disaster with no modern parallels, with no escape and no safe harbor, Axios Future correspondent Bryan Walsh writes.
- The big picture: Even the worst calamities — from natural disasters to terrorist attacks — have happened in one place, at one time.
- But the truly global catastrophe of the coronavirus will touch everyone, everywhere, for a long time.
You could hear new urgency yesterday from President Trump, as he ditched the hopeful talk and warned at a White House briefing: "I’ve spoken, actually, with my son. He says: 'How bad is this?' It's bad. It's bad."
- The crisis was once expected to last weeks or two months. Now even Trump fears a long, sad summer: "[T]hey think August. Could be July. Could be longer than that."
- Six counties in the Bay Area have issued shelter-in-place warnings, the strongest U.S. clampdown yet as a host of cities and states force bars, gyms and other public places to close.
As America comes to grips with the extent of these social-distancing measures, it’s natural to reach for historical comparisons: Those examples can offer the comfort that the U.S. has made it through dark times before.
- But we're used to seeing terrible events befall a city, or a region — not the whole country all at once, let alone the whole world.
It may be more instructive to go all the way back to World War II, which saw the strict rationing of consumer goods, full-scale mobilization of civilian industry, even "dimouts" of New York's skyline.
- The American public, of course, rose to the occasion.
- The question is whether we can do the same now, at a time when the muscle memory of sacrifice has atrophied.
The bottom line: We're just beginning an endurance test that has no clear end.