Well, here we all are in the midst of a pandemic. In my memory, it is a time like no other. Schools and theaters are silent. The shelves in grocery stores are empty. Our town’s library is closed. Even 9/11, a horrible event, wasn’t this bad. People could still go out, meet each other, live their everyday lives. Schools weren’t shut. The library remained open. The coronavirus, a tiny but potentially deadly enemy, has taken away normalcy.
When the coronavirus struck China, I took note. Right from the start, it seemed to me that this was not business as usual, equivalent to, say, a cold or to the seasonal influenza. This particular virus, a novel virus, was something our bodies had never encountered and was terribly contagious. In addition, the mortality rate was much higher than the seasonal influenza. The numbers are still in dispute, but the death rate from the novel coronavirus is anywhere between 1% and 3%, compared with 0.1% from the seasonal influenza.
Even worse, perhaps, was the novel coronavirus’s rate of infection. It just swept through people, overwhelming hospitals and the medical community in China, making a bad situation even more lethal. Nevertheless, for a while in January, it looked as though China just might be able to contain the novel coronavirus. But no. Our society is too mobile. People travel from here to there without a thought, and cheap airfare encourages them to do so. We consider it our God-given right to go where we want whenever we want. Perfect conditions for a pandemic.
When the coronavirus spread to other countries, I knew it was only a matter of time before it would come to the U.S. Our mobile society all but guaranteed it.
Several weeks ago when the shelves were full, I stocked up on groceries and that precious material—toilet paper. A week or so ago, Clif and I began practicing social distancing, an unfamiliar term before the novel coronavirus. I felt a little foolish to turn down invitations to go out with friends, but I figured better safe than sorry.
I don’t feel foolish anymore now that the novel coronavirus has come to the United States. As it spreads daily, the novel coronavirus is something to be taken seriously. In fact, Clif and I consider it our civic duty to stay the heck away from other people. It is true that eventually we might become infected. However, if we can help it, we want to avoid being part of the first wave of sick folks that overwhelms the medical community. What’s happening in Italy right now is heartbreaking. They didn’t take the coronavirus seriously and now there are too many sick people and not enough supplies. This means many doctors are having to make decisions about who lives and who dies. Elderly people are dying without anyone to hold their hand.
Over the next few weeks or months or however long we stay home because of the novel coronavirus, I will be writing about how it has affected various aspects of our lives. Along with staying the heck away from other people, I feel it is my duty as a writer to face this horrible pandemic and to record my experience from the hinterlands.
But I will also continue to record what is going on in our very own backyard as winter turns to spring and the flowers begin to bloom. That is part of dealing with the virus, too. The return of life is a great consolation.
So dear blogging friends, stay safe, be well. And we will try to do the same.