The governor keeps the pandemic going.

As Ian Donnis tweeted earlier, I was in Providence this afternoon at the Public’s Radio studio for an all-too-brief conversation with National Education Association of Rhode Island director Bob Walsh about the obstacles to improvement of Rhode Island’s education system.

Arriving a bit early, I walked around the area, and it struck me that the pandemic is still going on in Rhode Island’s capital in a way that it isn’t elsewhere.  Living out here in the Far East town of Tiverton, with regular trips into Fall River and North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, it has seemed obvious to me that the pandemic is over.

In some stores, the employees are still wearing masks, but that’s it.  The pandemic’s over.  Done.  Even a trip to Boston a couple weeks ago had that feeling.

Not in Providence.  It’s hard to define, but it wasn’t merely the higher rate of masks on chins.  Mainly, it was the lack of traffic and the relatively empty park, unopened restaurants (some even boarded up), and surplus parking available behind the Rhode Island Foundation building (which was empty, too).  It felt like the lone patient who is not recovering well in the sick ward.

I had something the same feeling when I tuned in to a financial town hearing (FTH) in Tiverton recently to watch a handful of town officials quickly go over their budget proposal from the comfort of their homes, rather than from the high school auditorium in-front of a live audience, as is customary.  The sensation also permeated the Newport Superior Court, yesterday, after the friendly police officer asked me to put on a mask before entering.  What?  Why?

Maybe my experience in Providence, today, had more to do with the specific area I walked and my timing than anything truly characteristic, but when I came home and saw that Governor Dan McKee has once again extended the government’s emergency powers, it struck me that our government decisions are being made from that… well… that dead zone.

Hints that governments might shut the gates on life once again if a dreaded variant flares up have seemed absurd to me, but not after my trip to Providence.  Some there are who like it this way, and they seem to be disproportionately powerful, but this is not healthy.

We need life to resume, and most especially, we need to open the windows and air out the halls of government for a good, long time, because things are growing there that will be the death of us.


Featured image by Sebastiaan Stam on Unsplash.

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