COVID and losing the American dream

Posted By: September 19, 2020

IrishCentral founder Niall O’Dowd considers the ongoing impact of coronavirus in the US.

Niall O’Dowd@niallodowd. Irish Central. New York. Saturday, September 18, 2020
Coronavirus is not going away anytime soon, and its impact continues to be staggering.

Apparently, 80 percent of doctors globally believe there will be a second wave of Covid-19 this fall. It is bad news. Almost everyone I know is weary and wishing this pandemic away but it shows little signs of departing.

Here in New York the Irish community is facing its biggest test. The linchpin jobs in the bar and construction field are heading south and there is nothing to replace them.

Many immigrants, even the legal ones have left for Ireland figuring they can winter out the storm better with family in Ireland than staying here in NYC.  nephew reports that four of his five closest friends have winged their way back home. He feels like many, that their whole social structure is destroyed.

When Covid first showed up, I had the sense of my life being interrupted for maybe a few months max. But we soon learned that Covid was going nowhere–no respite in hot weather, no miracle cure so that we could get back to our self-important lives.

Covid has taught us all a harsh lesson that we are not superior beings capable of overcoming any calamity, nor are we particularly smart when preparing for such disasters such as what has befallen us. The mirage that we were free here in the First World from pestilence and plague has been shattered.

Several close encounters with other viruses such as the swine flu had merely reinforced our conceited belief that we could handle anything. Instead, the disease has led us on a merry dance.

Now it’s like playing that arcade gallery game whack a mole–you whack one mole, only for another to jump up somewhere else.The tide ofo infection has ce washing in again in Europe are we next again?

Covid-19 is still outfoxing us to the tune of 40,000  infections a day in the U.S., with close to 1,000 dying daily. The best estimates from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the only voice I trust, is that we may see normality in the autumn of 2021.

Another fall, winter, spring, and summer under Covid’s fearsome shadow will change our lives forever. Many who are just hanging on to jobs, homes, and dreams, will be forced to let go.

There will be deep impact in the Irish community, already obvious from the number of bars and restaurants closed down. Small construction companies too. Irish theater, entertainment, and culture groups are teetering on the brink as long as Covid continues.

There is a story behind every one of those small businesses. They represent the sum of the American dream for many Irish immigrants who came here for a better life and an opportunity to prove themselves. Many lived in hope of passing the business on to a son or daughter. Those dreams are in peril too.

Every shuttered bar is a nightmare. Construction sites silent and eerie bespeak the tragedy that has befallen. Many Irish have simply given up and gone home.

It is disastrous for the macro culture too. At this point in time, six months until St. Patrick’s Day, it’s hard to believe that Manhattan will be ready next March for the glorious march up Fifth Avenue which is the culmination and highlight of every year. Where wars, depressions, and recessions could not stop the march of the Irish, we may well be looking at 2022 before we hear the tramping feet, the skirl of the bagpipes, and the “kiss me I’m Irish” fun of it all.

Losing the parade would be a savage blow, as would losing the Irish American tourism season for a second year. The ties that bind America to Ireland begin in many cases with that first trip back to the land your people came from. Nothing can compare with connecting with your heritage and roots, finding new family members, and taking in Ireland in all its initial glory.T hat could well be denied again in 2021, a disaster for the millions who come and the hundreds of thousands who make their living servicing those visitors.

The stark reality is that all we can do is sit and wait and try to stay safe. Fate has dealt us all a dirty blow but help is on the way. Let us hope it arrives sooner than later. Covid cannot control us.