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.” Today, you can find over 120,000 documented cases worldwide and over 1,000 within the United States. I’m positive that by the time you’re looking over 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 have eyeballs and clicks. One could be right. Yet, there’s also the best reason for concern. Between 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 have to keep at bay the nauseous sense of panic welling up within our throats.
Since the serenity prayer says, “God, grant me the serenity to just accept the items I cannot change, courage to alter the items I can, COVID19 test clinic near me and the wisdom to learn the difference.” This problem is really not in the “change the items I may change” column. The best advice is “remember to breathe.” Clear a moment. Close your eyes. Take a long, deep breath. Allow it to out. Repeat. Color it “acceptance”
However, what’ll our society look like post-virus?
And yes, it is likely to be gone. There is a morning after. Most of us is likely to be here when sunlight rises on that day. When we use China as a template, the scourge – if handled well (and that’s a topic for another column) – will require about eight weeks to run its course.
I’m sure you can find greater predictive minds than mine looking to that particular time, although I do believe some consequences happen to be making themselves known.
Per Wikipedia, “Social distancing is… (a method to) control actions… to avoid or decelerate the spread of a highly contagious disease.” As all of us know, it will be implemented by curtailing and canceling large gatherings, such as for instance concerts, sports, 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 has a one-mile containment zone. All of these actions are increasingly being executed with the intent of flattening the “expansion curve,” a lofty goal but with side effects.
We are traveling less – even within our own towns. We remain more within 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 we do things around here.” Our culture – for better or worse – will not “do things” like we did before this disease. It will not look nor feel exactly the same, even after the Coronavirus is relegated to exactly the same invest history as polio, SARS or the Black Plague. We will “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 which will 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 major difficulty in society, will be amplified.
You may or mightn’t accept my calculations but, being a battle-scarred optimist, I do want to think that maybe, just maybe, this horrendous period can give bright-light brilliance to the truth that – irrespective of our color, gender, sexual preference, political leanings, even the united states where we live – we’re One. Each folks loves and fears and does the best he or she knows how exactly to do. Yet, in a New York minute, it may all be change, through no fault of our own.
I actually do know that no real matter what the near future carries, we stand a much better chance if we could find ways to simply help and hold one another through this period, whether that’s using a video conference or included in large conference.