My Hometown, Durham NC, is surrounded. Besieged.
I’m stuck in the epicenter of a battleground state, targeted from all directions by the Superspreader presidential campaign.
At least, that’s how it feels.
Yesterday I made a list of all the visits and rallies in North Carolina by principals of the Republican presidential campaign during the last two months.
The tally came to twenty, including several which are set for later this week (and I might have missed one or two).
Twenty essentially maskless rallies, many with ten thousand-plus crammed in, shouting, cheering, breathing hard.
Then hauling their infectious enthusiasm back home, and to work and the shops: city & country, up and down the major interstates — west and east on I-40 & I-85, north and south on I-95 and I-77. The first two pass right through Durham, and the others bracket it east and west.
I can’t predict who’s going to win the voting here next week. But I can tell you who is winning the campaign, namely the virus.
The numbers are pretty simple, and damning. In June & July, the state COVID virus case total went from around 60,000 to 123,000, which was an average of around 1000 new cases a day. That was bad enough.
But soon came Labor Day, and the Superspreader Campaign kicked into high gear. The wannabe rulers began their frenetic royal progress through the state, parachuting in more than twice a week, drawing barefaced sardine crowds almost every other day.
Practically all of them have been involved: the Donald himself eight times: multiples for Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Lara, Tiffany — and who could forget Mike “No Quarantine” Pence? (Only Jared seems to have been left behind. My guess is, he’s either planning World War Three, or doing child care.)
But the number of their visits isn’t the crucial statistic. Look at this: in September & October, Carolina has racked up new cases on the average of 1500 per day. That’s up 50 percent from midsummer. On October 27 the case total was 258,292 cases, and 4,144 deaths.
In addition to the number, the distribution of the Superspreader rallies is also unnerving from a Durham viewpoint: their contagious crowds gathered in Wilmington & Raleigh to the East of us; Winston-Salem & Greensboro to the west; Fayetteville & Lumberton south; Greenville up north, and several stops southwest near Charlotte, our largest city.
Like I said. Surrounded.
Why has the regal roadshow skipped my city? Likely because Durham is in the bluest of the state’s one hundred counties. If anything limits the viral invasion, maybe that will.
But COVID, as we should all know by now, is nonpartisan. In truth, my only real hope here is with the clock: next Wednesday, the toing and froing should finally stop. Whoever wins the ballot count, I’ll be hoping for at least a lull, if not a break, in the autumn viral surge.
Who knows— that may be the only break we get.
PS. Joe Biden came to Durham a week or so back. Had a small rally, a drive in, people honked from under well-spaced cover. Then he stopped at a local Cook Out burger place to get a milkshake. Picked it up himself, with Secret Service guys hovering; they all wore masks.
Cook Out claims to have 40 milkshake flavors,
Biden went for vanilla.