I flew there (a whole other story) last week to visit my son in Providence. Like a Corona Coward, I escaped from Alabama, one of the fastest COVID-19 spiking states (average of 1,100 cases per day during the past week) to Rhode Island, the state with the fastest decrease of the disease in the past three weeks (average of 64 cases per day to just 32 cases during the past week).
And landing magically from one state to another, it was readily apparent why the Ocean State was way ahead of the Yellowhammer (it's a bird) State in combating the pandemic. Led by a strong, straight-ahead governor, Gina Raimondo, aggressive measures were put into effect early on and remained in force until the number of cases declined substantially this past month. Compared to Alabama where Governor Kay Ivey, affectionately known here as Memaw (Southern for Grandma), is so afraid of offending someone that she is all but ineffective.
In Rhode Island, virtually everyone wears a mask, even the street people. Hand sanitizers and social distancing measured reminders are ubiquitous, inside and out. Most restaurants are open now, with tables at least six feet apart, but very few diners enter, opting instead for outside tables only, where completed tracing forms are required before orders are taken by masked and gloved wait-people. Wooden barriers no longer block residential streets, but they can still be seen on the side of intersections, waiting quiescent just in case people movement needs to be restricted again.
So "hope" is good, but even better when coupled with strong, scientifically-based action. Instead of Memaw's hemming and hawing and Alabama's feckless, somehow (in the context of our lamentable history) vaguely racist slogan of "We Dare Defend our Rights."