That’s the Zen version of Confucius’ “No matter where you go, there you are” axiom, but regardless of the iteration, we are most certainly “here.” And “here” is a brand-new place even for a 61-year-old journalist who thought he’d seen and written about everything.
And by “new place,” I don’t mean working from home and “social distancing.” That’s nothing new to me. But no English Premier League, no Cubs or White Sox, no dance classes, no Graham Nash at ECC, and no going out to eat really is a rather strange place.
Normally, I delight in avoiding the rabble, but it’s not nearly as much fun when you’re forced to do it. And the absurd amount panic is something new, too! But since that’s far more dangerous than any virus could possibly be, let’s review!
While the coronavirus unduly affects our senior citizens, and particularly those with preexisting conditions, it doesn’t threaten those under 50 in nearly the same way. Again, the covid-19 mortality rate for per age group is:
- 0 to 39 – .2 percent or 1 in 500
- 40 to 49 – .4 percent or 1 in 250
- 50 to 59 – 1.3 percent or 1 in 76
- 60 to 69 – 3.6 percent or 1 in 27
And those statistics include Wuhan China, where medicine ain’t exactly the best. In addition, what those stats don’t consider is the plethora of mild non-reported cases where the sufferers simply thought they had a bad cold, or the flu, and never went to a doctor. Add that factor into the mix and those younger mortality rates get cut in half.
Please remember, as bad as the media is making this pandemic out to be, only 6,000 have succumbed worldwide with the majority of covid-19 deaths coming in China. The reason we’re suddenly being so careful here is 15 percent of the U.S. population is 65 or older, and if just five percent of them got sick at the same time, it would quickly overwhelm the available hospital beds and ventilators.
So, we make sacrifices for the greater good! It is a trait that generally separates humans from animals – perhaps only on good days, but it’s a start!
But the panicking needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. If you read my “roving reporter” weekend Facebook posts, Sunday morning grocery shopping at the St. Charles’ Meijer was just like your average Monday morning. With some minor exceptions, the shelves were well stocked, people were nonplussed, and we walked right up to a lineless checkout counter.
As an aside, some of your collective responses to those “weekend reports” were both hilarious and heart-warming. Don’t ever do that again! But I digress.
So, precautions, yes! But panic and hoarding, no!
I certainly understand avoiding any major crowd, but what I don’t understand is the current cowering in the crawlspace mentality. It’s not as if they cancelled ‘The Masked Singer!’ My friends at Big Bear Painting have seen a slew of cancellations which makes absolutely no sense. Since I don’t plan on kissing a painter of either gender anytime soon, we just asked them to hit a few rooms here.
And while we’re all “here,” even if it’s simply out of respect for the annual flu, let’s eliminate the unnecessary and plague imparting act of shaking hands. Comedian Bill Maher suggests embracing the Japanese tradition of bowing, but I’m convinced that single handed Vulcan salute would be a heck of a lot more fun.
Who doesn’t want to “Live long and prosper?”
When we get through this, and we will get through this, let’s reconsider the notion of reasonable national health care. Nothing spreads a pandemic faster than folks who have no paid sick days, and those who can’t afford to see a doctor. You don’t think heavy political contributors like health insurance companies work for us, do you?
Even the government couldn’t possibly “screw” our health care system “up” any more than it is right now. The “retail” prices on pharmaceuticals like insulin and asthma medications go so far beyond price gouging it isn’t funny!
We humans are only as strong as our weakest link.
Since we have no choice but to collectively endure the coronavirus, I can’t help but consistently return to John Donne’s famous sermon, ‘Meditation 17:’
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
If our parents can successfully navigate two World Wars and the Great Depression, the least we can do is endure this pandemic with our dignity reasonably intact. So, instead of panicking, let’s consider the elderly and those paycheck-to-paycheck folks who are going to have a really tough time with this shutdown and respond accordingly.
Let’s remember that, while most of us will be just fine, we have a duty to ensure those who are at risk are taken care of first. Let’s not forget that, as the late great Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once said, “The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in time of crisis.”
So, let’s be great!