I fully expected to be a bystander to the madness of COVID-19. Being a journalist, I knew the odds of exposure — we have covered them extensively already in West Life. But it was still an intangible when it came to my everyday life. Then came last week. First, my beloved Jazzercise classes (I teach it) were canceled. Cancellation of my WW meetings — which I had JUST signed up for three weeks before — followed. And the final blow to my psyche, on March 15 a co-worker found out she had third-hand exposure to someone who had tested positive. Even though it was a far-removed exposure, within hours the whole West Life staff went into work-at-home mode. The phrase “better safe than sorry” had never taken on more meaning.
Working from home has meant some monumental changes. I own a desk that I put in our spare bedroom (oh my gosh, what a bargain at a consignment store a year ago), but its drawers have remained empty. If I was editing or writing from home, it was at my dining room table with my laptop. But with the more-or-less instant work-at-home status, I wanted something more official. The drawers are now filled with all my pens, Post-Its and an ibuprofen bottle (who doesn’t have one of those in your desk?).
I join others struggling to deal with the isolation, even though I’m sharing the space with my teacher-husband and Cleveland State University son. I troll social media sites way more than I should. The experience is not good for my mental health. I get angry at people bleating like goats that the social isolation and closures are stupid. After all, they smugly snarl with memes and emojis, there are more deaths from the flu. Such stupidity. Such blindness. Such stubbornness in the quest to be correct.
Let’s look at the scientific facts. An analysis released March 16 from Imperial College of London predicted a scenario in which 81% of the U.S. population could get infected during the next few months if no actions are taken to slow or contain the spread of the virus.
According to NPR.org, “Initial data shows that coronavirus is deadlier. In the U.S., seasonal flu kills one in a thousand people (0.1%) who get sick from it — the death toll last season was more than 34,000. Worldwide, an estimated 300,000 to 650,000 die from flu each year. By contrast, COVID-19 is currently estimated to kill at least 10 people per thousand infected (1%).”
“It's about 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, in congressional testimony on March 11. Fauci is the fellow we daily see standing behind President Trump in the COVID-19 updates.
I share that quote not just to prove the “flu” argument is dangerously stupid, but to get people to just stop arguing and get with the program. Just. Shut. Up.
I will end my musings with some good news. When the weather has allowed me to walk in our wonderful Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, I have been heartened by the number of families and couples (most separated by a respectable distance) enjoying the great outdoors.
And I came across this on the internet: The Venice canals, because boat traffic has come to a halt, are clear and sparkling blue. Dolphins have returned after decades of avoiding the waterways, as have swans. It is a beautiful sight.
Look it up if you haven’t already. It will make you smile.
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