In 1987, the band R.E.M published a song entitled “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.” 

They were a few years premature.

Earth, this planet, and the world as we know it faces our greatest global crisis in over a century. 

The president of the United States, the man who is supposed to be the leader of the free world, opens a news briefing on the pandemic by announcing he is now “Number one on Facebook.” The man who was going to drain the swamp has become its most toxic creature.

“What have you got to lose,” Donald Trump asked African Americans, in 2016, urging their constituency to vote for him. 

We now know the answer: your lives. I have absolutely no faith that Donald Trump will ever thoughtfully guide our country out of this catastrophe. Every day he is making things worse.

The entrance at the door to Dante’s Inferno reads “Abandon all hope, Ye who enter here.”  Today, I do not see light at the end of the tunnel. I see a madman and moron blocking the way.

To save our lives, we must resist. This pandemic has exposed the weakness in the White House. He is not up for the job, and never has been. A TV show you can cancel weekly. We must wait until November. That day can’t come too soon.

Trump’s latest pandemic debacle is to empower those who want to protest in the streets to do so. To “save the economy,” our commander-in-chief has decided to play Russian Roulette with our lives. 

The president who got upset when some football players kneeled rather than say the pledge of allegiance is encouraging his followers to take to the streets and “Liberate Michigan.”  Let his legions go — spreading a virus, untested and unchecked. 

While doctors and scientists say otherwise, Trump says “Go out and play.” Yes, go ahead. Live free and die, killing others asymptomatically while you do.  Trump is right about only one thing. If he is the cure, it’s worse than the disease.

If you fall along the way, you are simply an acceptable loss in the war against the Coronavirus. Joe Joyce, a 74-year-old bar owner from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, and a long-time Trump supporter, was one of those victims.

Joe Joyce left Florida for a cruise to Spain on March 1. He sailed to his death because that day, at a rally in the Carolinas, Donald Trump did not tell him not to go.

On that day, Donald Trump, armed with months of intelligence that a deadly virus was spreading throughout the globe, told his gleeful audience that “the whole thing a hoax.” They cheered. Joe Joyce sailed. 

There was a way he might have avoided the trip, his daughter Kristen told the New York Times this week. 

 “If Trump had gone on TV with a mask on and said, ‘Hey this is serious,’ I don’t think he would have gone.” 

You see, Joe Joyce like millions of Americans believed in the president. They follow his lead, and they are marching to hell, but not for a heavenly cause.

Scientists are on the networks daily, reminding us that the pandemic has not spiked, deaths have not peaked, and cures have not been found. Based on that, they are telling us to stay safely at home. Researchers who have studied plagues have told us as much as well.

Had America a president whose voice was true and message clear, our country would listen. Instead, we have caravans of citizens arming themselves with guns, driving in pick-ups down I-95 in Daytona, holding up signs reading, “Make America Free Again.”

Wasn’t Donald Trump the person who said at the Republican convention “only he can save us”?  He is killing us instead. 

The pandemic is not tamed, hospitals are filled, and refrigerated trucks have become mobile morgues, tagging unnamed bodies by their toes. But this weekend, go get a pedicure in Georgia. America is free, open, and back in business. 

History has taught us that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. If science and common sense are going to play second fiddle to presidential policies, the pandemic that is COVID will get worse, not better. 

Ours is a nation that has dealt with pestilence, dust bowls, hurricanes and tornadoes. We have tamed, if not cured AIDS. We have survived Polio and the Spanish Flu.  

There will be a day when America arrests the pandemic that is COVID-19. Like “Annie” in that Broadway show, I do believe the sun will come out tomorrow. I would like to be there for it. 

Unfortunately, we are not being led by a unifying force. There is no JFK asking not what we can do for ourselves, but what we can do for our country. There is a clown issuing orders about immigration.

Meanwhile, in hospitals across this nation, there are doctors and nurses fighting for our lives. Still, there are patients dying every hour. Don’t forget about them when you put that suntan lotion on your face in Daytona.

When Joe Joyce first got sick two weeks ago, his daughter said that he resisted a coronavirus test.  “He didn’t think that he could have it,” she had told the NY Times, “because he wasn’t 100% confident that it was a thing.” 

It’s a thing, folks. It’s a thing. It’s not a hoax. The virus does not have a political viewpoint. 

Like Edgar Allen Poe’s 1842 short story, “The Red Masque of Death,” it has taken on a human form, and it may be hanging out in your abbey. Be ever so careful.