Remember back in early March, we all hoped this virus would be just a temporary pandemic, causing a simple, brief shut-down of the state and our nation?
We all imagined that American medical scientists and our world-class labs, would, quickly, come up with a dosage, an injection, or a medical treatment to end this covid-19 virus.
Back to "normal" was a mantra at the time. We all predicted this to be just a temporary inconvenience for, well, almost everyone.
Suddenly it's been 130 days (as of last Wednesday) and we are no closer to finding "the trend," "the bottom," "the solution" or "the fix" for this viral pandemic sweeping Benton and Washington counties, Northwest Arkansas, our state or the nation.
And it is beyond me how any politician, as hard as they may try, can even fathom running a political campaign or re-election campaign based on their record or activities on covid-19 during this pandemic.
Although, I am sure, some will try.
Already, I hope voters are seeing though both the political candidates' "pros" and "cons" of this pandemic.
For example: State Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway, Senate District 35 in both Faulkner and Perry counties, has always eschewed wearing a "mask" or facial covering. He has moved time and time again against advancing funding for covid-19 spending. He is now in a hospital diagnosed with the virus.
Rapert has also been a constant opponent to basic Medicaid health care funding, such as providing insurance for the poor prior to the virus outbreak.
Today as a state employee, Rapert is glad, I am sure, that he has state health insurance. Will he continue to crusade against funding to help stop the virus from spreading?
Only time will tell.
Now examine Benton County's Sen. Bart Hester of Cave Springs and his recent scurrilous legislative activity. Already spurned by his senate colleagues for the Senate President Pro Tempore position, Hester this past Tuesday voted to deny $7 million of health care funding ear-marked for the Latino and Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas. Both these groups no doubt live in Hester's district (which includes parts of Benton and Washington counties).
And there have been other accusations and "fits of temper" by those on the "pro" side of the viral outbreak.
Allegedly, a first-term Democratic state representative at a covid-19 press conference was said to have blurted out loud for all in attendance to hear that "...the governor was lying," about some statistic during his presentation.
She was apparently ignored by the governor and his staff but seemed very happy along with her supporters of the outburst, even though she provided no proof of her accusation.
So there has been "ugliness" on both sides of this issue, with other tales of inappropriate social media posts and downright vile and frivolous accusations made against other members of the Arkansas General Assembly.
Here are the undisputed facts that not a single legislator or legislative want-to-be candidate should try to run on in 2020:
• Since March 11, when the first Arkansan died, there have been 433 other deaths.
• And since mid-March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has made over 120 daily briefings on the state's actions on the virus.
• As of last Wednesday, 40,968 active cases of the virus have been found in the state.
• Arkansas which initially ranked as one of the lowest covid-19 states in the nation is now hovering, ready to tragically break into the Top 30.
Still despite these numbers, will there be candidates running for office saying this viral outbreak is nothing but a political hoax?
There will also be those running for office, claiming they have been solely responsible for ensuring funding, protocols, programs and combating the outbreak that could not have been done without their due diligence.
To be honest, I hope we see neither side try such election or re-election tactics.
Every day, I see a field of politicians who are just as bewildered by this outbreak as are all the rest of us.
--MAYLON RICE IS A FORMER JOURNALIST WHO WORKED FOR SEVERAL NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PUBLICATIONS. HE CAN BE REACHED VIA EMAIL AT [email protected] THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.