Typically, I limit Sundays to writing about writing. Today I’m stepping out of my publishing schedule to make yet another pandemic-related public service announcement.
Because new data is hitting the presses every day, and a lot of that information is false and put out to generate fear. I try to look past the flashy, fear-mongering headlines for the real stuff, the stuff that no one reads because the text is thick with technical terms that make most people’s eyes glaze over.
In Thoughts on a Pandemic, I posted links to a few websites that have information on exactly what a coronavirus is. Today, I want to not only expand that list but give some of my thoughts on the world at large during this global emergency.
I’ll start by saying that I am on my sixth day of isolation. I went into town last Monday and slid in under the wire on some business that included the county Sheriff’s Department. Unfortunately, I had to get pretty close to the deputy for the fingerprinting stage of the process. That started my isolation time all over again, so now I’m at six days instead of nine. It’s not like I’m stuck in a box or anything. I’m blessed enough to have a bit of property to yet explore, so I’ll get to play Ranger in my five-acre wood.
As a denizen of the Facebook community, I’ve seen my share of funny and not-so-funny, memes that surround the current situation. I read news reports all the time of people competing for the ultimate 2020 Darwin Award. I sometimes wonder whether I’m overreacting. But like I told First Reader, right now, I’d rather over-react than under-react and be denied a ventilator because I’m neither rich nor famous.
What does the Centers for Disease Control say about the situation?
CDC is responding to a pandemic of respiratory disease spreading from person-to-person caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The disease has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). This situation poses a serious public health risk. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this situation. COVID-19 can cause mild to severe illness; most severe illness occurs in older adults.~https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fsummary.html
The CDC page also states that different parts of the United States are experiencing different rates and levels of infection through their communities.
The Summary page has a list of recommendations to help slow the spread of the virus, which includes a special warning for older folks and those with chronic health conditions.
What are other news outlets telling us?
The New York Times reports that more than a quarter of a million people have been infected and going on 15,000 have died of the disease. In a world of more than seven billion people, that doesn’t sound like a lot, and in the grand scheme, it’s not. But that is a number that reflects the moment. What has our doctors and world leaders most concerned is that this virus seems to be just getting started.
As I write this post, I keep finding more and more information on the spread of the coronavirus as I input search strings. Here’s a list of some of the news I’ve found from around the world.
- ABC News reports that we could see more than 70,000 confirmed cases in the United States by the end of next week.
- The Atlantic has an excellent article about how the virus spreads and what makes it so dangerous.
- The BBC World News reports world leaders urging the citizens of their countries to heed the warnings.
- The Hindustan Times reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is appealing to his countrymen and -women to stop traveling to slow the spread of the virus.
- Reuters reports that German officials are warning people to observe social distancing or face curfews.
What is this “social distancing” we’re supposed to observe?
Medically speaking, social distancing means to keep a physical distance between you and others so as not to spread disease. Many of us do this already when we have a cold or the flu.
A few years ago, I was exposed to and diagnosed with pertussis, or whooping cough, on a flight either to or from California. Not only was I chased away from my desk at work when I returned, but my doctor ordered me to stay home for a month. Luckily, I was able to work from home, so I didn’t lose any income.
When I peeked into my email today, I saw that my doctor’s office has sent out information about the virus and its spread in my region. They have set up a hotline and recommend virtual doctor visits, rather than in-person visits, if possible. They also made sure to include the following list of resources for us to check out the facts for ourselves.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
- Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE)
- Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment (WCDPHE)
What this all means is that right now, the infection rate is growing exponentially. I think we’ll see a lot more cases before the curve flattens, and only time will tell whether or not we will build any immunity to this new strain of the virus. Some people are taking the situation seriously, others, not so much. I think if people don’t take this more seriously, we’ll be saying goodbye to some of our friends and family.
I, for one, plan to be as cautious as I can and hope that by limiting physical interaction with folks, I’ll manage to dodge this bullet. I only pray my tribe can do the same.