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Charles Meredith: Plenty we can do

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Dear Friends,

Good morning. My original intent for this column was to write about the 143rd anniversary concert of the Quakertown Band, scheduled for March 29. Alas, the coronavirus quarantine changed everything. Who knows when that concert will be heard? There are about 50 men and women in the band ranging in ages from teens to those in their 70s.

The Quakertown Band has special memories for me because I sang and played trombone with the band for 30-plus, years. When will rehearsals resume? Probably not for quite a while. Penn Medicine predicts that the peak of virus infections in the Philadelphia region will be in mid-May.

My second most favorite Quakertown organization is the Quakertown National Bank, now QNB Corp., also founded in the same year as the band … 1877. I was a director of QNB for 45 years and am happy that it remains independent and locally owned.

Grumbles, one of my favorite organizations, is also on lockdown. Complaining about everything with my pals will just have to wait a while.

Thanks to Larry Bliss of Bliss family bike racing fame, my new friend Harry Branson is sharing the same frustration. The West Rockhill resident is an avid bridge player and the director of his local bridge club. I think about Harry as I try to solve the bridge puzzles in two daily papers I read. (Unsuccessfully, I might add). If the bridge contract calls for four spades, I can make three … if it’s in three no-trump, I can make two.

Harry sent an email to me describing his frustration with being self-quarantined. “I’m suffering from cabin fever,” he began. “No Monday bridge; can’t be with my friend Bill; no Tai Chi with a beer afterwards at Becker’s.

“We are suffering from an enormous lack of leadership. In school we were taught that leadership is by precept and example. Dr. Anthony Fauci [the president’s advisor] has both, but he’s about the only one. When I joined IBM, their basic beliefs were pursuit of excellence, respect for the individual, and the best customer service. None of that is present in this administration.”

Harry added, “I don’t mean to sound preachy, but things could have been different. Hindsight is always 20-20, but a lot of people predicted what’s happened since January 2020.” Harry’s right on the mark.

(Incidentally, like Mighty Betsy and me, Harry and his Betsy will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in June). Bravo, us!

Harry also enclosed an email about Dean Koontz, the author who wrote “The Eyes of Darkness” in 1981. His story described a killer-virus and the Chinese scientist who brought a biological weapon called “Wuhan-400” to America.

“In around 2020, a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments,” the author predicted in 1981. “Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again 10 years later, and then disappear completely.”

Friends, that book, “The Eyes of Darkness,” is positively eery.

Meanwhile, Thomas Friedman wrote an intriguing column in the New York Times (March 23). Friedman echoed what one of MB’s and my care givers, (Alice Agnew) has been saying for weeks. The subject is how to end the coronavirus.

“Use a two-week isolation strategy [nationwide],” Friedman wrote. “Tell everyone to basically stay home for two weeks, rather than indefinitely. (This includes all the reckless college students packing the beaches of Florida.) If you are infected with the coronavirus, it will usually present itself within a two-week incubation period.

“Those who have symptomatic infection should then self-isolate which is exactly what we do with the flu,” Friedman continued. “Those who don’t, if in the low-risk population, should be allowed to return to work or school, after the two weeks end. Effectively, we’d ‘reboot’ our society in two or perhaps more weeks from now.”

While Friedman’s column made sense, his prescription won’t happen because the president doesn’t understand the science, nor have the courage to level with the American people.

He’ll pay a big price for those failures in November, says I. But as Mighty Betsy always opines, “Charlie’s often wrong but never in doubt!”

Sincerely, Charles Meredith


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