“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” R.E.M.
What a week, huh? How you doin’? Everyone ok out there in isolation land?
It feels like eons now, but it was just over a week ago that I sat on the couch with an upset tummy watching CNN. Instantly, the coronavirus became real:
- Trump gave a solemn (he stayed on script) address from the Oval Office which was meant to calm, but ultimately rattled the masses
- Breaking News– Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, in Australia filming, diagnosed with coronavirus
- Breaking News– NBA suspends season after player tests positive for coronavirus
Each item has impact, but come on. We know Trump lies, so the fact that he couldn’t get all the facts straight in his address? No biggie. And Tom Hanks? While it’s shocking that someone famous, someone we think we know, has IT, Hanks being ill didn’t shut down the movie industry. “NBA suspends season”!?!? Ok coronavirus. You’ve got our full attention.
Then? Over the next few days? Like “The Amazing Triple Spiral (15,000 dominoes)” I watched on YouTube recently with my grandson, all the various pieces of fabric that hold our society together were falling, click-click-click: schools, concerts, theatres, various sports, amusement parks, the stock market!
Buckle in and buckle up, folks. What a ride!
Prime Minister Trudeau’s wife tested positive, so he’s in self-isolation, holding daily pressers from a podium in front of his house, while camera crew and journalists stay a safe six feet away. I mean, just the fact that the PM is “holding daily pressers” is crazy. It’s a fast-moving target – “fluid” in newspeak – this pandemic, and all are scrambling to respond.
It’s not like we didn’t see IT coming. I mean, we’ve been watching the horrifying news on coronavirus from China since January, then cases were discovered in various other countries, notably in Italy, which has a high mortality rate and horrifying hospital conditions. Did we think coronavirus would somehow just never gain entry into North America?
And, as pandemics go, history is jam-packed: Black Death, small pox, Spanish flu. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch Bill Gates’ TED Talk: The next outbreak? We’re not ready Vancouver 2015, in which he predicts our current state of chaos. A 2017 study from the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) by N Madhav and others states, “Evidence suggests that the likelihood of pandemics has increased over the past century because of increased global travel and integration, urbanization, changes in land use, and greater exploitation of the natural environment (Jones and others 2008; Morse 1995). These trends will likely continue and will intensify.” Also, since you’ve lots of time to “quarantine & chill”, you could check out a new series on Netflix, “Pandemic”.
Canada has a “Pandemic Plan”, but I don’t think we have a pandemic team. The US had a “Pandemic Response Team”, disbanded in 2018. There’s been a shortage of tests (hindering containment and accuracy of statistics) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), prompting the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to say, “healthcare workers who can’t get a mask should use a bandana or scarf as a ‘last resort’ as supplies run short.” A “bandana or scarf”?! To protect people most at risk? And another truly frightening thing? Why we must work hard now at “social distancing” to “flatten the curve”? The US population is 330 million and there are approx 100,000 ICU beds and ventilators; Canada’s population is 38 million and there are approx 5,000 ICU beds and ventilators. With this illness, severe cases have required several weeks on a ventilator.
If too many people get seriously ill at the same time? Healthcare professionals are left in the excruciating position of having to make wartime-like decisions – like they’re doing right now in Italy – about who gets treatment and who doesn’t. Says reddit.com: “Your grandparents were asked to go to war. You are being asked to sit on a couch. Think about it carefully and act accordingly.”
If you’re confused on social distancing there’s a great article in The New Yorker called “How to Practice Social Distancing”. Basically, hunker down with the ones that brung you, the peeps you live with, while keeping all others a safe six feet away. The best advice I’ve heard is to go about your business like you have coronavirus; some stats say four out of five people infected got it from someone who didn’t know they had it.
Hosting a party with fifty of your closest friends? Hanging out on a crowded beach in Florida? The complete opposite of social distancing. You are being a “Covid-iot”, a term coined by my morning radio hosts, Taz and Jim on FM96, streaming from their separate homes, in quarantine for 14 days after returning from Florida.
Think Covid-19 is like the flu? Think again. Check out this article on Vox, “Why Covid-19 is worse than the flu, in one chart”. Here’s how:
- Rate of infection (how many infected by someone infected): flu 1.3, Covid-19 2-2.5
- Incubation time: flu 1-4 days, Covid-19 1-14 days
- Hospitalization rate: flu 2%, Covid-19 19%
- Case fatality rate: flu .1% or less, Covid-19 1-3.4%
The term “novel” virus means new; IT just jumped from animal to human so our bodies are also “fluid”, scrambling to figure out how to fight IT off. On one recent podcast I listened to, an expert explained that although a certain percentage of the population will get this virus over time, delaying it as long as possible not only eases the healthcare burden, but gives time for a vaccine to be developed and also may ease the punch.
Challenging times though, right? My husband B and I spent Sunday at the cottage, and it was a normal day – a sleep in, breakfast, a walk on the beach, hot tub, some reading – but just knowing IT was out there? Odd. I’ve not been sleeping well. I’m a news junkie, but need to ration the news right now. It’s too much to process. Like really, who would imagine that by yesterday this shocking headline – “California governor orders all 40 million residents to stay home” – would seem commonplace, one among a multitude of shocking headlines? And while I’m lucky in that my financial situation is not affected (except for the volatile TSX!), others around me worry about jobs, money, their future.
In times like these we must stay positive and practice gratitude for what we have. Technology allows us to stay connected, work safely from home. As one of my daughters pointed out on Instagram, “The outside is still open!” The supply chain is still in order, heat and lights are on.
Control what you can. Wash your hands properly and often (there are great YouTube videos on the proper technique and you probably have time to watch); this bug is powerless against soap. Sneeze or cough into your elbow. Clean that elbow, use it to bump; don’t shake hands. Stay home as much as possible. Stay in touch with friends and family through FaceTime, phone, text, email, mail.
Don’t be a Covid-iot. Stay safe, stay strong my friends.
Website photo: My grandkids social distancing and dancing like no one’s watching (just Mama), wearing their homemade crowns. Photo credit, Jetanne Di Cola.