I read reports this morning of people who flew home from Europe being forced to wait up to seven hours to collect their baggage and get through customs at O’Hare and DFW airports. During that time, they were sardined in with thousands of others who had just visited some of the countries that have essentially closed due to the spread of COVID-19 — so much for social distancing. While they may not have caught anything in Italy or Spain, what a good idea it was to make them hang out shoulder-to-shoulder in a likely-germ-infested queue before finally getting through and returning to their home communities — untested! Several travelers say that, even when they got to the front of the line, there was no process for identifying and quarantining people who had been to affected cities overseas. How could that go wrong?
I’m guessing the long lines at the airports were caused by bad planning by whoever’s in charge of staffing those portals. We ran into a similar problem — though it only lasted 95 minutes — when we returned from Europe last fall. I wrote about the experience here.
My brother-in-law forwarded to me an email he got from the Encore Boston casino, announcing it will be closed for the next two weeks because of COVID-19. That’s the first time I’ve seen casinos take such a bad beat — since the ones in Atlantic City that Trump bankrupted, I mean.
Then, with all the major leagues suspending play indefinitely, there are all the sports books that now have virtually nothing for people to place bets on. What’s the over/under on when March Madness will begin?
I hope there will be some relief for all the people who work where businesses have closed and events have been cancelled. They now have no income, and most are likely to have no financial cushion to fall back on. This is where Corporate America could really step up and make a difference, as Mark Cuban and some other NBA owners (and players!) are doing for the hourly employees who staff the arenas where the NBA usually plays. How about Disney keeping up payroll for the people who staff the parks it has closed in Anaheim and Orlando? What about some sick leave for all the fast food workers, so they don’t have to show up for their shifts and infect co-workers and customers? Will Delta and American Airlines continue to pay their personnel now that they’ve cut back their flight schedules so severely?
The list goes on and on. Yet it was more important for Mitch McConnell and his Senate co-weasels to take a long weekend than to sign the bill that will help Americans in need. At least the oil companies will make money from Trump’s order to fill up the Strategic Petroleum Reserves!
Meanwhile, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will have a debate tonight in a CNN studio without an audience. Hopefully, with the field culled from its original 21 candidates to the final duo, the moderators will allow it to be more of a conversation than a stick-to-the-rules affair. We don’t need any arm-waving and other gesticulating to get attention, nor nonsense questions about topics that aren’t top of mind right now. Let Biden and Sanders — who are supposedly friends — explain what they would have done differently in dealing with the Coronavirus, urge their followers to protect themselves and others, and pound Trump and his administration for the horrible job they have done in that regard. Then and only then should the debate turn to the differences between the two Democrats on various issues. I don’t expect Joe to bite too hard at Bernie, whose support he’ll need in the general election, and I hope the latter doesn’t needlessly and recklessly attack the former, either.