From ‘Marshall Law’ to canceled events, US hunkers down amid Coronavirus

medicine bottles
Photo/Indie Art South

Coronavirus is raging 24/7 in the news cycle now, even diluting attention to Democrats’ debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on Sunday. One GOP US senator’s Tweet is ‘trending’ right now, for all the wrong reasons, and the US is hunkering down.

On Facebook I saw a post that asked, “Do you know anyone who has the virus?” I didn’t respond, but yes, I do know someone who has it. He’s in the hospital, recovering. He’s not young, but seems to be doing well. I haven’t been around him in a long time, but I hope all his family and close friends are well too.

On Twitter, US senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been addressing the Coronavirus, and like many of us, he posted before he spell-checked. Rubio was trying to explain martial law, but the auto spell feature apparently revised the comments. Response from Rubio’s critics was predictable and funny.

Closer to home, Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry told us today that restaurants and bars will be limited to 50 people temporarily and limits on alcohol sales will be levied. Groceries and pharmacies are exempt from the limits on the number of people in an establishment.

Rebecca has naturally been concerned about this outbreak because her fulltime job is music. On Friday, in a cruel blow, she got news about several shows being canceled and she got that news right after she filed her taxes. Not a happy moment. While it’s true that public shows and corporate events are being nixed, bars and restaurants are still open, albeit operating under restrictions.

I’ve talked to loved ones about this new virus, and quite a few are shocked at my attitude. Am I afraid? No. Am I cautious? Yes. I’ve lived through many outbreaks in my lifetime—I’m not young anymore. This illness places me in a higher risk group, although not the highest because I have no underlying conditions and I’m not on any meds. My age alone places me in the risk group, so I am avoiding packed places but not curtailing my life completely.

I remember being one of the first in my state to write about AIDS back in the day. I remember people being afraid to hug others in some circumstances. I remember running into a friend of mine who happened to be gay. Unfortunately, he contracted AIDS. I ran into him after he was sick. I went to hug him and he held up his hand.  I told him that was BS and I would hug him whether he liked it or not. And I did. Why wasn’t I afraid like so many others?

I’d researched what was known about AIDS and knew it was very unlikely I’d catch it. Despite what we know about a very costly illness that can often be prevented, people still take risks. The CDC said there are more than 1 million in the US who have AIDS, with one in eight of those unaware they’re infected. As many as 50,000 people “become newly infected each year.”

I’m not overly worried about Coronavirus just as I didn’t overly worry about the H1N1 outbreak that occurred in 2009. I’ve always been a little overboard about washing my hands, and my personal routine includes a few things that I think protect me. I always wash my hands if I touch a pepper shaker or door knob in a public place. I gargle many times a day with plain water, and though it isn’t scientific, I figure if viruses like your throat and you keep it clean as you can, maybe that helps.

I swear by Lemon Balm and raw honey too. If I have a virus, I believe that herb, put into tea, helps.

I come from Celtic tribes on both sides of my family. In ancient times, Romans wiped out the Celts’ ruling class and quite a few of the peons too, but enough of us survived so that I am here today. I can’t count the risks my ancestors overcame in order for me to be here today, but I am very appreciative I still have quite a bit of our culture intact. I do what I think is in my self-interest when it comes to any kind of illness or other risk. I figure my ancestors did the same, or I wouldn’t be here.

For now, that means limiting contact with the outside world. This will pass, just as H1N1 passed. Media wasn’t as obsessive about H1N1 as they are right now about Coronavirus. Maybe if they had been, less people would’ve died.  To  this day, we don’t know exactly how many people in the US did die of H1N1, but we do know this:

“ Between April 12, 2009, and April 10, 2010, the CDC estimates swine flu caused 60.8 million illnesses, 273,304 hospitalizations and 12,469 deaths in the U.S.”

Perhaps it was the politics of the time or something else, but there wasn’t as much media panic over that 2009 outbreak as there is now. And that 2009 illness was, in my opinion, scarier because of the vulnerability of the young. We could take a page from Taylor Swift’s political pop and “calm down.”

We will get through this just as we have other crises. We will see some shortages of goods due to hoarding, and we will continue to see political dustups on social media. The best thing we can do is ignore the political hysteria and the toilet paper hysteria and follow best practices for staying well and if we do get sick, not spreading it to others.

This will pass. I guarantee it. Judging media coverage, we get more info from the press when a president they don’t like sits in the office, so at least we’ll be informed about every blip on the Coronavirus radar, unlike the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 when children and young people died and the total numbers remain unknown.

(Kay B. Day/March 16, 2020)

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