But many, many individuals and institutions—businesses, houses of worship, schools, governments—have chosen dramatically to modify their normal routines, at great cost, precisely for the purpose of slowing the spread of the virus, preventing the health care system from being overwhelmed, and making sure doctors and hospital beds are available for elderly or previously individuals who get Covid-19 and need the care.
Many other necessary employees—the checkout clerks at Walmart and Trader Joe’s, the gas station attendant, police officers and firefighters—are showing up for work, notwithstanding that by doing so they are exposing themselves to a greater risk of infection. Whether that amounts to “compassion” or simply professionalism is an interesting question, but it is less bleak than the Brooks headline would have it.
If there is a “division” that stands to be heightened by the novel coronavirus or by Covid-19 it seems less likely to me to be the class one and more likely to be a generational one. As 70-something-year-olds President Donald Trump, former vice president Joe Biden, and Sanders compete in a presidential campaign, young people are being asked to stay home and contract the economy in part so that their elders don’t die. Cue the “OK, boomer” comments. So far, the youngsters are taking it with, all told, minimal grumbling and remarkable good cheer.