As the Coronavirus has continued to spread throughout the world I am struck by the wide range of reactions and attitudes of people. Some people have taken a cavalier attitude, choosing to downplay or even ignore the warnings of various medical professionals and political leaders. I have noted that this has been particularly true of younger people who are in generally good health. I suppose, they think they are invulnerable. Also, some of them reason that even if they were to get sick they would fight it off. They should be mindful that various medical professionals have cautioned that even if they do not get sick or if they recover from a mild case of Corona they could infect others who are more susceptible, such as an elderly relative, an infant, or a friend with a compromised immune system.
Many of them have been resisting the recommendations to “shelter in place” and not to congregate in gatherings of more than ten people. I have observed less and less of this attitude in the last couple of days, as more and more states, counties and cities have promulgated restrictions on large gatherings and have closed restaurants, bars and other venues, but it still exists to some extent. For example, many college-age students are insisting on participating in the traditional “Spring Break.” They plan to congregate on the public beaches and party wherever else they can, although some governors such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis, have warned they will enforce the CDC’s guidelines on “social distancing” and “social responsibility.” It should be interesting too see what transpires.
On the other hand, many people have been panicking. For example, in the last few days I have noted news reports of “runs” on items, such as food, medical supplies, and even toilet paper. People are buying more food than they could possibly eat in a month. There have even been reports of brawls in stores over some of these items. I’m sorry, but that is just ridiculous. People see that on the news and it just feeds more panic and desperation. Don’t be surprised if one day someone is killed over a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread.
Many supermarkets’ shelves are empty as if they had been attacked by a horde of locusts. Do people really think we will run out of basic necessities such as food to eat or water to drink or toilet paper to wipe their rear ends with? We’re not in the midst of a famine or similar disaster. In my view, the worst case would be just temporary disruptions in the supply chain. One might not be able to get a preferred brand of milk or bread, but there will be some available.
As I write this, the latest statistics available: worldwide cases – 190,000; deaths – 7,500. US cases – 6,000; deaths – 90. The states with the highest number of cases are Washington with close to 800, followed closely by NY. Remarkably, West Virginia still has none. Good for them.
By now, we are all familiar with the basic symptoms of the Virus, but I think they bear repeating: runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough and shortness of breath. Severe cases could lead to pneumonia.
What to do if you think you are sick?
- The number one rule, as various doctors have cautioned, is stay home.
- Do not go to a hospital or clinic. Do not go to work. Don’t send your children to school (assuming their school has not been closed). Contact your doctor for instructions. If you were to go to the hospital and you are not sick, chances are you will catch the virus from someone there who is, and if you are sick you will likely infect others who are not. In most cases, the best course will be to self-quarantine at home. Be wary of infecting at-risk members of your household, such as children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep your doctor apprised of your condition.
Various medical professionals and political leaders from the president on down have stated we are entering a crucial period. The virus is likely poised for a substantial uptick in infections over the next 15 days. In preparation, more and more political leaders have restricted group gatherings and closed schools, restaurants and bars and other venues where people gather. In addition, more and more businesses are laying off employees or encouraging them to work from home.
- In NY, NJ, Washington DC, CT, and various other locales all restaurants and bars have been closed, except for takeout orders.
- More and more schools have been closed, with students to be taught by virtual learning.
- Several states, such as MD, GA, LA and KT, have postponed scheduled primaries.
- Various utility companies have suspended pending “service disconnections” and/or waived penalties for late payment of bills.
- More testing kits and drive-in facilities are becoming available, in some cases, with the assistance of private companies, such as Target and Wall Mart.
Basically, there is no need to leave one’s house except for emergencies or to obtain basic necessities. This Virus is highly contagious, much more so than the flu. The best defense against it is to avoid close human contact and shelter in place.
We can beat this contagion if we are smart, stay calm, listen to our leaders, and use common sense. I believe we need to engage in moderation. We need to stay in the vast middle ground between cavalier and panic. We should be respectful of the Virus and what it is capable of, but we should not fear it. I am reminded of the famous words of FDR in 1932 in the depth of the Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That was true then, and it is true now.