Social distancing sign, Tempe, Arizona. Credit: David H. Guston
Three potentially momentous changes may end up reshaping how the United States and world manage the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
First, vaccines. While vaccine roll-out has been logistically challenging and slowly implemented, the vaccines now available may begin to stem the tide of infection and death — about 25 million cases and more than 440,000 deaths in the US alone as we write. The US had administered more than 33.5 million doses as of February 2nd, with more capacity being added daily.
“And who by fire//who by water//who in the sunshine//who in the nighttime…”
These Leonard Cohen lyrics are drawn in part from a Hebrew prayer called the U’netaneh Tokef, which is a central part of the liturgy of the Jewish High Holidays — Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) — currently being observed by Jews around the world. Cohen’s sly lyrics add a modern twist on the original prayer, which includes such “Life of Brian” versions of death as stoning, plague, sword, beast, and strangling.
“who by high ordeal//who by common trial…”
But Cohen’s update…
My grandfather Abe Gussowski was born in a shtetl near what is now the Poland-Lithuania border, a couple of years after the Wright brothers flew their first powered aircraft. He survived more than a decade after the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Struggling from immigrant child, to the Merchant Marines, and then to mechanic at the aeronautics division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation — a direct descendent of Orville and Wilbur’s original company — Abe might have had some gear-and-grease sense of what it took to get men to the moon and back again. …