A date to denote pandemic denial

America is good at commemorating things.

Not Red Square-good, but we hold our own.

In my house, as a virus raged beyond our walls, we’ve batted about a date to remember, to designate, to have ceremonies and plaques and markers and names on walls, and all that.

It’s the date when a president deceived so many into thinking a killer virus was not that deadly.

The only problem: We can’t settle on an anniversary.

Should we commemorate Jan. 28, 2020, when National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told Donald Trump that the new coronavirus was the “biggest threat to his presidency”?

(By July, O’Brien was among the 4.5 million Americans who had the virus at the time.)

What about Feb. 7, 2020, when Trump told Bob Woodward that the virus was far deadlier than the flu?

(For the benefit of the public, Trump said it was on a par with the flu, “totally under control,” and would be down to zero cases by the end of the month.)

How about March 19, 2020, when Trump told Woodward he consciously played down the seriousness of the virus and acknowledged “it’s not just old people” who were in danger?

(A few days later he told “Fox and Friends” that children are “virtually immune.” Good to know, say parents of the 141 Americans under 21 dead from the disease. So far.)

So, which day should we commemorate all this?

On Sept. 11 we solemnly observe horrors that claimed the lives of more than 3,000.

On what day should we observe all this? The day the U.S. death toll reached 200,000? Or should we reserve a date for 400,000?

It seems we should have a day in perpetuity when we remember the demagoguery, science denial and rank deception that led to all this.

Let me suggest March 19 – 19 as in the forever suffix for this COVID.

However, instead of something limiting and sterile-sounding like COVID Day, let us broaden what we should observe. Make it about the worth of science, or what happens when we ignore it.

Nominally, let us attach to our day the social condition PODS – Perils of Dismissing Science. PODS is a disease unto itself.

March 19: PODS Day.

In addition to remarking and educating on pandemics taken lightly, with 9/11-style oaths of “Never again,” PODS Day each year could focus broadly on medical science, climate science and all those things that experts tend to link to reality.

March 19, let it be. Each year.

I remember where I was on Sept. 11, 2001. Where were you in March 2020 when Donald Trump played down the pandemic?

“My God,” said my wife. “We were in restaurants without social distancing or anything covering our faces.”

Yes we were. We were sharing indoor air streams and salad bar implements without a thought.

Maybe we need a special day to commemorate salad bars.

In those dangerous days of this pandemic, though he knew better, Trump was signaling that it was OK to grab those tongs. It was OK to jam into movie theaters and sporting arenas.

(“This is deadly stuff,” he confided to that audience of one. “You breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed.”)

Much derision was directed at Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert when, on March 11, his positive test shut down the NBA. It now seems we should be honoring him for snapping us to attention.

Our president was not going to do it.

As we approach a chance to remove him and his co-conspirators from office, let us remember the words of Ann Richards:

“We’re not going to have the America we want until we elect leaders who are going to tell the truth – not most days but every day.”

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado.


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