We need a civilian army of anti-Covid warriors to beat
West Thurrock council is seeking £11-an-hour Covid-community support officers, whose job it will be to ensure that residents maintain a respectable two metres apart and eschew such perilous activities as picnicking or playing football.
Advertised by a private security firm previously deployed by the Essex authority to hand out litter fines, the role pays a pound or two above the minimum wage and will hopefully provide someone out there with gainful employment. But hiring a professional ticker-offer does seem a woefully inadequate response to the corona-crisis.
Indeed, West Thurrock’s job search feels almost emblematic of the timid and tardy measures most Western countries have thrown at the virus thus far.
As Boris Johnson said when he returned to work in Downing Street last week, Covid-19 represents “the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the War” – yet for much of the time it hasn’t felt like it.
Winning an existential conflict requires the near total mobilisation of the population, the enlistment of millions to the armed forces, agriculture, health care, and homeland security.
Even in peace, troubled times have required a mass response – President Franklin D Roosevelt’s creation of the New Deal to battle the economic devastation of the Great Depression employed 20 million by 1935.