Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Pandemic Outrage

This room at Wilson High School in Pasadena was converted into a flu isolation ward during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Mark Landis)
We've all entertained the possibility of something devastating to hit the U.S. soil, no less the entire world, but I had imagined it a bit differently. If someone would've asked me before March of this year, "Something is going to wreak havoc on the entire world, including the U.S.! Millions of people will die,"---I would've instantly thought maybe a nuclear war, or some sort of terrorist attack planted in each country, in each state and in each province. The thought of some virus or plague is more science fiction than anything else, but then again, we came close with the Ebola outbreak, and it's still happening in some parts of the world. There's even a section on the CDC website on what to do if there is a "zombie apocalypse." FEMA also has a page dedicated to the "zombie apocalypse" in a more light-hearted way.

In January, when I first started seeing citizen's footages over on Twitter of the new virus in Wuhan with people just falling on the streets dying, body bags by the dozen taken into trucks and people in huge trucks disinfecting the empty streets, I thought, "Wow, that would never happen here. God help these people." It's as if we think the U.S. is invincible for some reason. We're not. We're extremely vulnerable. If 9-11 hasn't taught us anything, then we have a real problem. That tragic day hit the hearts of those who lived out in the west coast and throughout the world. And we got through it. People were actually being helpful, nice to one another and there was a sense of community. But with the Corona virus, it seems like people are dividing....politically...religiously...and personally.

The fact is, nobody (especially your average civilian) truly knows anything about this virus. I don't even think our top officials know much about it. Hospital protocols keep changing daily because they seem to find new ways of protecting their patients and themselves. New information always comes up, for instance---if you've already had COVID-19, you can get reinfected....or can you? Or, if you had COVID-19, now it's known to give strokes, blood clots and heart attacks. Some "experts" say to stay away from NSAIDS, (ibuprofen) as it seems to worsen symptoms of the virus. And some experts say it's fine. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the lockdown was only going to be two weeks. Well, two months later, we're looking at another extension, while businesses are shutting down and people are having a hard time collecting unemployment. The new update tells us that schools may not reopen in September. What will parents do? Keep homeschooling their kids? Keep sheltering in place?

Then you have your friends on social media giving their two cents. Everyone and their mother has become a virologist and scientist overnight. This is all new to us. Wearing masks in public is something we never imagined. "Oh, you're wearing your mask wrong! Don't wear a mask! Always wear a mask! Wear gloves! Don't wear gloves!" Nobody knows anything. It's all fear-based assumptions at this point. Some believe that the virus "isn't that bad," while other people are losing family members and seeing their loved ones suffer from a horrible condition. You can't even be with them in the hospital.

Do we keep the country on lockdown or do we just get out there as if nothing happened and hope for a herd immunity cure? Then you have the debate about the vaccine. Some folks believe the vaccine will be coming soon and that all will be fine. Others think it won't be anytime soon, in fact, it'll be about two years. Some religious folks feel that we are living in the end times of the Revelations in the Bible. I'm Christian as well, and feel that we are definitely close, but no one knows the hour nor day. They got through a pandemic 100 years ago, we can hopefully do it again....right? Or do we have to live with this new virus that will always be here? Will we always have to wear masks and keep a safe distance from everyone? Or will it mutate into something of a lesser scale, making it into a cold or flu-like illness (to which it is for many healthy people?)

I don't have an opinion, because there are no "secure" facts. I understand each side of the coin--whether you are for the shutdown or you're all about getting back out there and reopening your business again. Maybe I would have a stronger opinion (on each side) if my income was based on the small business that I own down the road, or if I was elderly or if I had an autoimmune disease, but I don't. I have asthma, so it does worry me, but my opinion lies somewhere in the middle with all of this.

Here's another "logic" I don't quite understand. Some people believe, that if you are healthy and want to reopen and live life again, then do it. If you are unhealthy and have a low immunity or you are elderly, then stay home. So my question is, if someone has the virus and they're not showing symptoms, then how do you know that everybody is "healthy?" But I get their point. Quarantine the sick, and let the "healthy" people out---but it's not that simple. My mind toggles around each scenario, each strong stance against this or that.

I do have a strong opinion on one thing: social media is the devil. It somehow turns people into "virologists" and "doctors," yelling and screaming their strong opinions--even public shaming others for their beliefs. People are dividing and we're becoming animalistic morons. Since literally nobody knows the facts, and I don't give a rat's ass if you're one of those conspiracy nutters---the truth is---nobody knows the truth. Is it hidden? I don't know. And guess what---neither do you. This is all new to us. We never wore masks into grocery stores or to just get gas for our cars. We never had to disinfect our steering wheels after shopping for food or stand two meters away from loved ones. So give people a break if they're doing something you don't agree with. Stop the bullshit and realize that we have so much misinformation out there---it's enough to blow our minds. We're confused and it's solely based on fear. All of our anger and public shaming on social media is based on one thing: FEAR.

Fear of what?

For some, it can be the fear of getting sick, or the fear of their loved ones, parents, grandparents and immune compromised family members getting sick.

It's also the fear of the government taking complete control. Some people fear that we are all going to be placed into FEMA camps like they did in Nazi Germany. Here's a scenario: say officials take you away from your home because you have too many people living with you, is it because they're throwing you into a FEMA camp, or is it to quarantine you into a safe facility or hospital so it'll stop the spread of the virus? Who do you trust? Many people say that history will repeat itself, and that's something I also believe in, but in this case, I also see the logic in safe quarantining.

In the beginning of this pandemic, I did have a strong opinion. I was all about the "shelter in place" for two weeks, so that the virus would go away, like we were told. But that didn't happen. For my own personal reasons, I will remain sheltered in place, just because I don't think my asthma can handle the blow, but for my seemingly health friends and family who own small businesses, I really can't give them advise, because they're losing what they worked so hard for, and also losing their homes! They can't put food on the table and at this point, everything is---UNCERTAIN, which is a scary feeling. So, should we die in fear of dying while sheltering in place? Because that's what this lockdown is doing. Or is the lockdown to save our lives, to only go out into the world to realize that our lives are now lost and homeless? If you're wealthy, you probably have nothing like that to worry about, except for a few stocks that crashed or maybe you had to sell your Bentley Continental GT Convertible. Whatever position you're in, are you completely sure that what you're going on are solely based on facts?

For now, I'm the monkey in the middle. I truly have no opinion. Also, my political views have shifted straight into the middle as well.

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