COVID 19, the Coronavirus, is triggering global panic.
As I write this, the World Health Organization (WHO) just declared it a pandemic, citing “alarming degrees of spread and… degrees of inaction.” At this time, you will find over 120,000 documented cases worldwide and over 1,000 within the United States. I’m positive that by enough time you’re scanning this, those numbers will seem nostalgic. Things move blindingly fast. As illustration, three weeks ago, we hadn’t even been aware of “self-quarantine.” Miriam Webster now catalogues it in the most effective one percent of lookups.
One might claim that the media is over-hyping the crisis to get eyeballs and clicks. One might be right. Yet, there’s also the best reason for concern. Involving the unreliable information stream; the natural fear all of us have of the unknown; in addition to feeling that we are leaves in the rapids, propelled without control; it’s normal to possess to carry at bay the nauseous sense of panic welling up in our throats.
Whilst the serenity prayer says, “God, grant me the serenity to simply accept the items I cannot change, courage to alter the items I could, COVID19 test clinic near me and the wisdom to learn the difference.” This problem is indeed not in the “change the items I can transform” column. The best advice is “make sure to breathe.” Clear a moment. Close your eyes. Take a long, deep breath. Let it out. Repeat. Color it “acceptance”
However, what will our society appear to be post-virus?
And yes, it is going to be gone. There would have been a morning after. Most of us is going to be here when sunlight rises on that day. When we use China as a template, the scourge – if handled well (and that is a topic for another column) – will require about eight weeks to run its course.
I’m sure you will find greater predictive minds than mine looking compared to that time, although I think some consequences happen to be making themselves known.
Per Wikipedia, “Social distancing is… (a method to) control actions… to avoid or slow down the spread of a very contagious disease.” As all of us know, it will be implemented by curtailing and canceling large gatherings, such as concerts, sporting events, conventions – aside from schools, churches, and businesses. Cities have banned gatherings over 250 people. Italy has virtually locked the doors and discarded the keys. New Rochelle, NY features a one-mile containment zone. Most of these actions are now being executed with the intent of flattening the “expansion curve,” a lofty goal but with side effects.
We’re traveling less – even within our personal towns. We remain more in our homes, associating only with those we trust.
Sadly – out of a perceived necessity – we’re even reconsidering hugs and handshakes, trading them for fist, foot, and elbow bumps, in addition to bowing.
Culture has been defined as “that’s how exactly we do things around here.” Our culture – for better or worse – won’t “do things” like we did before this disease. It won’t look nor feel exactly the same, even following the Coronavirus is relegated to exactly the same place in history as polio, SARS or the Black Plague. We shall “do things” differently
As humans, we’re hard-wired to be with others. That is why we form close relationships, build communities, construct cities. This epidemic is putting us at odds with this nature, causing sadness and internal conflict that may remain long into the future. It’ll show itself as us being more physically – and emotionally - isolated; nesting more, using virtual links more often than we do now, seeking out that connection we no further feel safe receiving in public. Fear and suspicion of the “other,” already a significant difficulty in society, will be amplified.
You may or mightn’t trust my calculations but, being a battle-scarred optimist, I do want to think that maybe, just maybe, this horrendous period gives bright-light brilliance to the fact that – regardless of our color, gender, sexual preference, political leanings, even the nation by which we live – we’re One. Each people loves and fears and does the best he or she knows how to do. Yet, in a New York minute, it may all be change, through no fault of our own.
I actually do understand that no matter what the long run carries, we stand a better chance if we are able to find ways to help and hold one another through this period, whether that’s using a video conference or as part of large conference.