Wednesday, March 11, 2020

My Journal of the Plague Quarter, Day 3 - Alarmism

Not to be alarmist.............well, okay, to be completely alarmist, a tidal wave of coronavirus seems to be springing up across the country (I know it’s a mixed metaphor, but I never metaphor I didn’t like). Clusters of case erupt here and there like pimples on a teenager’s face. That’s a simile. A covid-19 wild fire is sweeping the country. That’s another metaphor. Governors are declaring states of emergency, in New York whole communities are being encircled by National Guard units in quarantine, or “containment” as they are calling it, at a nursing home in Washington State dozens of elderly have died of the illness, etc., etc. The entire country of Italy is in quarantine, with more countries likely to follow. Colleges are telling their students to not return after spring break. Campuses are being closed. The US appears to have dithered for several weeks after the virus was discovered while Rome burned (prez what’s his face actually tweeted a photo of himself playing a violin, a Nero-esque reference totally lost on him), refusing testing kits from the World Health Organization. Down-playing the whole epidemic, the prez said it would miraculously disappear and soon cases would be down to zero. Instead, it has proceeded to expand its range and has gone pandemic.

At my level, my own preparations include the unnecessary: I bought a dozen megarolls of toilet paper, made hand sanitizer out of aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol neither one of which is particularly necessary in that diarrhea is not normally a symptom of the illness, and regular hand washing with soap and water is apparently more effective than the sanitizer. I noted empty shelves in the hand cleanser sections and toilet paper in several stores this week. In addition to those preparations, I watched the official Metropolitan Community College five-minute youtube video from Metro’s consulting doctor about spraying disinfectant on college keyboards, wearing masks and gloves in laboratory settings, and maintaining personal space safety. Tomorrow I will attend a workshop at the college on going digital with my two courses in the event the college suspends campus operations, which at this point seems inevitable if you look again at the tidal wave approaching the city in the above photo!

On the lighter side, a national conservative Christian evangelical conference on Healing through Prayer was canceled due to the covid-19 illness. Another cancellation was of a Coronavirus conference for the same reason. In Nebraska, the Disaster Response Coordinator for the Nebraska Conference of the United Church of Christ said that the annual conference and training for Disaster Response Coordinators has been canceled due to the virus. As a friend of mine noted, that seemed ironic.

I thought of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 when I saw those reports:
“They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly.
No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried.
Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked.
They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone."
And what difference does that make?”
― Joseph Heller, Catch 22

A couple of weeks ago, I asked another friend closely involved with the UNMC’s Ebola program for his analysis of our current federal administration’s response to the then emerging threat: “We’re doomed,” he deadpanned. (That’s a pun). I find myself looking at mortality charts trying to figure my odds. I hear the alarms going off. And you can’t stop a tidal wave with a firetruck, whatever that means. The genii has already left the barn on this one. But for me this morning, it’s now time to go to work.


Post a Comment

<< Home