Millions may die even if the lockdown isn’t lifted

Gratuitous Guns

During the pandemic and still driving for Lyft, I’ve been traveling farther for rides than I have before, putting more mileage on the car.

Yesterday, I made it farther north and east along the Allegheny River than I’d been before on surface streets and noticed yet another gratuitous gun (figure 1).
Fig. 1. Gratuitous gun at the Springdale Veterans Association, photograph by author, April 18, 2020.

I had a passenger in my car when I saw it so I didn’t get a chance to take a picture. I got a few more rides before getting one that took me out of the area entirely.

I was wondering when I could get back to take a picture. As it happened, I had a ride out in that area again today, close to my quitting time, so I made it my last trip and returned to take the photograph in figure 1.

From what I have seen this area, it seems to be predominantly white, but not prosperously so. That said, it is only a short ways upstream from Fox Chapel and Oakmont which are both very prosperous towns.

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I was still hoping to get some grocery shopping done, so I stopped at a Giant Eagle Express, which turns out to be a glorified GetGo convenience store. But as I paid for a flat of bottled water, I had to pull my mask down for the face unlock on my Pixel 4 to work so he could scan the loyalty code and I could pay with Google Pay.

The cashier ribbed me. And he was ribbing. He made it very clear he was in opposition to these measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. I was too hungry to respond.

But he’s not alone. Many of my passengers, both Black and white, seem to embrace the conspiracy theories of the far right on COVID-19.[1] Many affirm that the economy needs to keep going, that is, that the capitalist god must be appeased.[2]

The only thing I can see here is that government has completely lost credibility with a large portion of the population around Pittsburgh. These people certainly have no reason to believe they’ll be made whole from the economic shutdown[3] as we plunge into what will likely be a new Great Depression.[4]

I continue to see more and more traffic on the roads, more people out and about. Some are clearly observing social distancing and wearing face masks. Some are not.

We’d best hope that I am wrong and that the restrictions can be lifted soon. Because if they aren’t, I think we’re going to see the consequences of lifting them too soon regardless.

  1. [1]Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “An impatient capitalist god demands human sacrifice. Now,” Not Housebroken, April 17, 2020,
  3. [3]John Cassidy, “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?” New Yorker, March 14, 2020,; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020,; Michael Hirsh, “Is $2 Trillion Too Little, Too Late?” Foreign Policy, March 25, 2020,; Michael Hudson, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” Washington Post, March 21, 2020,
  4. [4]David Blanchflower, “Pandemic Economics: ‘Much Worse, Very Quickly,” New York Review of Books, March 26, 2020,; Justin Lahart, “Great Depression Unemployment Levels Are on Tap,” Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2020,; Heather Long, “U.S. now has 22 million unemployed as economy sinks toward Depression-like scenario,” Washington Post, April 16, 2020,

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