Oh, no!!! Not another person talking about COVID-19!
Yes. Here I am, talking about it. You’re welcome. (Evil laugh!)
By the way, for some reason every time I see a picture depicting the coronavirus cell, I have this urge to pop it. Don’t ask me why, I just do.
Now, I’ll be honest. When I first heard of the novel coronavirus, I felt a sense of safety and security. It was, afterall, happening far away, “over there”, somewhere else. It wasn’t in my neighborhood. I thought that with the distance it would never become my problem.
From mid-January when the United States had its first reported case of COVID-19 until today with nearly 460,000 confirmed cases (and growing) nation-wide, it’s hard to ignore that we, indeed, have a problem.
COVID-19 — What’s the big deal and why is it different?
COVID-19 has a lot of the same characteristics as other coronaviruses, except that we don’t have any vaccines or proven ways to combat this virus. That means those who become infected have to either be guinea pigs to help healthcare professionals figure out what works, or they have to toughen it out…. or die. Numbers show that the death rate is more than 10 times that of the seasonal flu.
What worries professionals the most about COVID-19, is the fact that it’s easy to spread, can be spread without symptoms for up to two weeks, and that it can turn into a serious type of pneumonia. Infected patients who struggle to combat the disease may need a ventilator and intensive care in the worst cases. As numbers continue to soar the question has been whether hospitals can handle the amount of people who will need this high level of care. The idea of “flattening the curve” really refers to keeping the growing number of cases within the limits of our healthcare system.
Since the United States is not the first to deal with this spreading pandemic, we have been able to look at the challenges and responses of other countries. In Spain several areas have surpassed capacity and ventilators are being reserved for those who are younger. This leaves the older population (65+) to struggle alone and survive if they can, once they contract the disease. Germany proves to be doing well as far as their overall death rate. China, where the virus originated, has been able to get the virus under control by implementing an extremely strict quarantine. Japan, South Korea, and other countries in that region seemed to be able to get things under control rather quickly. I wonder how culture plays a part in each country’s ability, or struggle, to get the spread under control.
What seems to help reduce its spread?
The best advice I’ve been able to see anywhere, and which seems to be consistent with successful strategies, is to act as if you are infected. Stay away from other people and be consistent about washing your hands. States across the nation have already implemented social distancing measures. These measures include the transition to online at-home education and employees working from home. All those who made fun of homeschoolers or said teleworking is unproductive have a chance to see things for themselves. Of course, there are certain jobs that have been deemed essential and these people continue to report for work at various locations.
The Economy and the Stimulus Package
Since the discovery of COVID-19, our economy — which had experienced tremendous growth over the last few years — has taken a sharp downturn.
As an answer to our economic problems, the federal government passed a 2 trillion dollar stimulus bill that focuses on helping individuals, small businesses, and struggling industries. I have wondered at the wisdom of adding to our growing 23 trillion dollars of debt. Still, that debt will only get worse if we don’t have an economy at all.
Anyway, this is something that deserves a lot more attention than I can give it in this summary article. Time will tell how this stimulus package ends up working.
What to do with contradictions and disagreements?
There is so much more to discuss with everything that has been impacted by COVID-19, but I want to end with some thoughts on how to deal with contradictions and disagreements. This, I think, is just as important as anything else we face. Here are some guiding principles:
Look for the good in everything we read, hear, or discuss. If you read an article that seems rather extreme, look for the underlying message you can agree with. Does it help us remember something important? Does it provide a suggestion or idea we could really use? Even if we don’t agree with everything, if we can look for the good we have a better chance of connecting and working together.
Be patient and give space for the variety of reactions and emotions you may encounter. Maybe someone isn’t taking this seriously enough. Maybe someone is taking it too seriously and spreading anxiety. Be patient and give everyone a little more room to process what is going on. After all, there are a variety of new challenges that must be faced. We also have a variety of blessings and resources that take time to recognize and appreciate. This pandemic will stretch all of us. Understand that not everyone is as limber and flexible as you might be. And if you’re struggling to remain calm and count your blessings, that’s okay. Give yourself the space you need to process how this personally impacts you too.
We will get through this.