Signs of social tension

One of the things about national or even global crises is that initially there is an upsurge of individualistic thinking by some people as they rush out and hoard vast quantities of stuff, thus denying them to others, even to those in greater need. Then we have the backlash with appeals for solidarity and sharing, that we are all in this together and that we need to be kind to others and cooperate. But as the crisis drags on, people’s patience and sense of good will may tend to wear thin and they start looking out again for just themselves or their immediate community.

In the state of New York, we may be seeing the start of the third phase as people in the less-populated upstate regions resent the surge in arrivals of people from New York City who are fleeing an area that has high rates of infection but in the process are spreading the infections to other areas.

As New York City has become the center of the coronavirus crisis in the United States many citizens, especially wealthier ones, have fled the city to second homes or rentals – but they have been met with hostility, fear and blame for potentially spreading the illness.

The flood of potentially disease-bearing city folk into countryside communities has even seen threats of violence and pleas from local politicians for them to stay away.

The Rensselaer county Facebook page is awash with people calling for an all-out ban on people traveling north from New York City.

“Put the National Guard right at the damn Hudson River or other points, nobody crosses that line,” wrote one commenter.

“Think about our families too, STAY DOWN THERE.”

Locals in these communities argue their hostility is not simply parochialism. Many harbor concerns about the ability of rural communities to manage an outbreak, given shortages of medical supplies, stretched hospitals and less access to food and groceries.

The more densely populated east coast is more likely to experience this kind of tension. New York City especially is the home for many wealthy people who also own homes in suburban and rural areas that they retreat to on weekends and for vacations. These people are abandoning the city in droves, causing some jealousy and resentment among those left behind in the city who do not have this option, as well as among the people in the communities they are moving to.


  1. raven says

    Signs of social tension

    It’s worse than just the rich fleeing the outbreaks.
    A lot worse.

    Engineer accused of crashing train said he was ‘suspicious’ of nearby coronavirus relief ship, Justice Department says
    Dakin Andone CNN Updated 11:47 AM ET, Thu April 2, 2020

    Eduardo Moreno, 44, told law enforcement investigators he was “suspicious” of the ship and believed it “had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover,” the Justice Department said in a news release, citing the affidavit.

    This terrorist tried to ram a train locomotive into the hospital ship Mercy moored in Long Beach harbor.

    The evidence that a navy hospital ship has anything to do with a government takeover is none.
    This is nonsense.
    The government doesn’t have to take over the USA because they already rule the USA.

  2. raven says

    More signs of social tension
    The head doctor leading the effort against Covid-19 has been getting death threats from lunatic fringers and now has 24/7 security.

    Anthony Fauci Faces Growing Threats To Safety--HuffPost

    The infectious disease expert will receive more personal security after getting threats and unwelcome messages due to his leading role in the fight against the coronavirus.

    The guns stores have been busy.

    Pennsylvania man upset over coronavirus shoots girlfriend
    1 day ago -- A Pennsylvania man upset over losing his job due to the coronavirus pandemic shot his girlfriend and then killed himself in an attempted …

    I was wondering what good a gun would do against a viral disease.
    The wingnuts have been using them to shoot other people instead.
    I still wonder how useful they are going to be.

    They are predicting around 100,000 dead in the next month.
    Think about what the social tension will look like by then.

  3. KG says

    initially there is an upsurge of individualistic thinking by some people as they rush out and hoard vast quantities of stuff, thus denying them to others, even to those in greater need

    In the UK at least, this is very much a minority response:

    True panic buying – as in, cupboards full to the rafters with ramen noodles or packets of pasta – is actually much less common than we think. When market analysis firm Kantar Worldpanel looked at data from 100,000 UK shoppers in mid-March, it found that only 3% of the population engaged in full-blown panic buying. The rest of the increase in food sales over the past month – an extra £1bn in the first three weeks of March – could be explained by consumers adding just a few extra items here and there. Chris Morley of Kantar wrote that the research suggested “huge volumes of consumers were adding a few extra purchases of products they normally buy, and adding a few purchases of categories that they don’t often buy into their trolley or basket [lentils being an obvious example] and were shopping more regularly than usual”.

    “I don’t like the term panic buying,” says risk expert Tim Benton. He admits that there have been a few examples of “stupidity” from consumers in the shops, but he argues that for the most part, our patterns of shopping in recent weeks have been a “risk-resilience issue” rather than a “panic response”. People have been told it is their duty to go home and stay there (and in some countries such as Canada, consumers have been explicitly told by politicians to stock up with enough supplies to last a week or two). At the same time, people can no longer have lunch or dinner outside of the home at cafes or restaurants or work canteens, which previously would have accounted for around 30% of all calories eaten in per day in the UK. “They can’t eat out, so they stock their larders,” says Benton.

    I suspect the “fleeing the cities” response is also that of a small proportion of people -- although we do have it in Scotland (where current infection rates are quite a bit lower than in NY, even in the central belt). The Scottish government has told people not to flee to the highlands, and communities there are putting up “Not welcome” signs -- stressing that they’ll be glad to have people back when the epidenic ends -- these communities are mostly tourism-dependent. Ferries to the islands have mostly stopped -- we’ve had to cancel a holiday we booked before the pandemic got going.

  4. grahamjones says

    KG, I live in a remote, tourism-dependent village in the Highlands. I haven’t seen any “Not welcome” signs but everything is closed apart from the Spar, and some car parks have entrances blocked. It’s a long long way to a hospital if you need it.

  5. mnb0 says

    “people from New York City who are fleeing an area that has high rates of infection but in the process are spreading the infections to other areas”
    OK, I have to admit it -- American (rightwing) government is even more stupid and incompetent that the Dutch (also rightwing) one. We at least have managed to avoid this medieval scenario.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *