COVID Frontline 3+ Months In

Here we are, a little over three months since counter-disease-spreading measures were implemented in the US (of course some countries started sooner and others later) to stem the tide of the COVID-19 virus. Now, with an increase in the number of cases worldwide (in the US some part of the uptick is attributable to the demonstrations that were held after the police murder of George Floyd, but too much should not be made of this factor relative to the insufficiently cautious reopening of the economy).

Unfortunately, developments since then have been decidedly mixed. Some people have over-reacted – e.g. driving around with a mask on while ALONE in their cars. A “middle” group doesn’t seem to understand fully what they’re supposed to do and why, e.g. having a mask on with only the mouth covered but nose exposed. Others have under-reacted, choosing to believe this threat to humanity is a “scam-demic.” The latter category of people, understandably so, are much more lax when it comes to implementing precautionary measures – masks, social distancing, proper attention to hygienic practices (hand-washing, cleaning/disinfecting), etc. But in so doing, they are endangering lives, in particular those of people in the groups at highest risk: the elderly, immuno-compromised, obese, various pre-existing conditions.

Unfortunately, this reckless behavior extends to our homeland in a BIG way. For this, I can only place blame squarely on the government for not acting in a way that conveys to the citizens the threat they face. While the initial step of closing the border with Iran was a good one, since then, the record has been spotty. People in the Republic of Armenia have not grasped the severity of the situation. Proof? Take a look at the accompanying table of selected COVID rates per million people. The RoA has the eleventh highest infection rate (in per-capita terms) in the world! In the table, which reflects data through June 18, I’ve included our neighboring countries and a few others with large Armenian populations, along with the highest and lowest “title” holders. This is embarrassing and deadly for us. It’s time to shape up.

Rank Country Rate
1 Qatar 28869.236
9 United States 6535.567
11 Armenia 6085.581
40 Canada 2645.371
42 France 2423.249
43 Iran 2322.231
50 Turkey 2166.576
67 Cyprus 1124.559
69 Azerbaijan 1084.013
78 Argentina 786.335
89 Iraq 602.996
113 Greece 307.3
137 Georgia 223.856
138 Lebanon 218.154
196 Syria 10.171
205 Papua New Guinea 0.894

Once again, the ARF family of organizations is coming to the support of our homeland. This time, it is the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) leading the charge with a fundraiser called “CovAID Armenia” which will deliver necessities to the villages of the country suffering from the pandemic. Please make a contribution if you can.

An extension of the lack of caution in the homeland is evident in our communities, too. If interviewees in Yerevan asked about their thoughts regarding the pandemic respond with pointless macho bravado about their mis-perceived invulnerability, in Glendale, the usual crowd hanging out at the Starbucks on Glenoaks Blvd. abutting the Jons supermarket are equally (masklessly) foolhardy. On one occasion, I remarked to them that they should be ashamed of their behavior since we don’t need another genocide, this time self-inflicted.

On the positive side, our organizations continue NOT to meet in person and are using online platforms, video/audio conferencing. These are annoying, but necessary, although they tend to exclude our oldest compatriots whose technology-savvy is not up to the task.

Personally, as a Los Angeles city employee, I have been called up as a “disaster service worker” (it’s part of the job that one accepts along with employment). I have worked at a converted recreation center that housed homeless people, later in various motels/hotels also housing the homeless during this period, and most recently at a COVID test site (Dodger Stadium). The work isn’t rocket science by any measure, but it is important to help reduce the impact of the pandemic.

On the outdoors front, when various park agencies reopened their lands about six weeks ago, the trailheads were incredibly full. Everyone seemed to have cabin fever. This seems to have abated in the last two weeks. It’s good to see people getting out, and for the most part practicing the necessary safety measures. I go to places that receive very few hikers/riders. For example, I recently saw all of two other people over the course of the 11-ish miles my friend and I hiked!

Please continue to take the simple, yet extremely necessary, precautionary measures necessary in these pandemic times and also, don’t forget to support the AYF’s CovAID Armenia effort.

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
Garen Yegparian

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