We “know” SARS-CoV-2 is well beyond containment. Schools are being closed, athletic events canceled, etc. In larger cities, more and more activities are being shuttered. There’s a ripple effect across the country. Here in Knoxville, I’m not getting much of a sense of panic. A low level of anxiety, perhaps. But life seems to be going on as usual.
I say “we know” but actually we don’t. I’m getting emails from people telling me not to spread panic and also to stop talking about the president or saying he’s lying.
Perhaps we’ve all seen too many movies and watched too many TV shows to grasp the full measure of the reality. We believe that the hero will swoop in with a cure at the last minute. All will be good. I write fiction and in my pandemic novel (every thriller writer ends up doing one), I have a form of that “happy” ending: Z-Final Countdown. Unfortunately, reality will be grimmer. Strangely, I used to not understand the importance of “happy endings”. My first published novel Eyes of the Hammer came out roughly the same time as Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger (much better title) with roughly the same plot: special operations interdicting drug trafficking in Colombia. At the end of his book we “win” in the war on drugs. At the end of my book, my hero sees a drug deal going down in the Bronx. That gives you an idea where I come from. You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you. And this thing is out there.
On a national level, the response is being bungled without firm leadership or guidance. We should be seeing field hospitals being set up by the military. Units mobilized. Hospitals prepared to be inundated with patients. I know at the lower levels there are people working long hours to prepare, but I don’t get a sense of urgency from the higher levels.
We need a complete lock down for two weeks to keep this from spreading exponentially. It’s not happening. That’s not partisan or political. It’s reality. The virus doesn’t care about political parties.
This morning there are images of how bungled the response is with seven hour long lines at airports for people coming into the country. Where people are packed together waiting. Which is silly because it’s already HERE. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be screening but its too little too late and being done wrong.
This is where we stand this morning. Remember, those tested right now, because we have so few tests, are people showing symptoms. Washington State is well ahead in number tested because of the nursing home cluster.
We’re so divided that people are arguing politics instead of reality. SARS-CoV-2 isn’t going to care.`It’s a terrible shame that our commander-in-chief is publicly violating all safety protocols being espoused by this who know.
But we can ‘flatten the curve’ if we are smart this coming week. If we look at what happened in China and in other countries, we know it’s all across the country already. Many who have it are asymptomatic. This is the week where, if we isolate, practice good techniques, we can keep the curve from exploding.
You have to assume it’s in your town, your neighborhood.
On a personal level, because of my Aspergers, isolating isn’t that hard. Ask my wife. My job has been one of isolation for decades. Right now I’m working on a new book and editing the next one coming out in April. I’m more focused on long term consequences. I think about all those in the gig economy or who work in industries being decimated, especially in terms of travel, tourism, or hospitality such as restaurants.
The biggest thing from watching the news and social media is the vast majority of people are not taking this seriously. People are still traveling, going out to eat, getting together. The next two weeks are the critical ones: where we either get it linear or exponential. I fear it will be exponential.
The symptom image is from my blog on 9 March, before I started the 2020 Pandemic. But the key to remember is this: there are hundreds of thousands of asymptomatic people walking around.
The best piece of advice I’ve heard this morning is this:
I’ve also read that people are uploading all sorts of coronavirus survival books that are essentially plagiarized reports, cut and pasted. The #1 book in survival since this started has been a book on how to make your own hand sanitizer, which is weird because getting the materials might be as hard as getting sanitizer; although you might have them on hand and it doesn’t take a book to figure it out. I added an appendix to my pre-existing survival guide where there was already a section on pandemics, because one has always been inevitable.
Two weeks, folks. We can do it!