I’ve spent half the week trying to understand the coronavirus. All of the conflicting reports and graphs have just confused me and forced me to keep digging to find some objectivity in all the mess of opinions and prophecies and, of course, legit funny memes. After words left me boggled, I finally went to my most trusted friend, numbers. I googled some numbers for myself, connected the dots, and now am starting to grasp the whats, the whys, and the ifs. To understand both the “it’s not a big deal” and the “it’s a big deal” and the “why all of us playing our part matters.”
Disclaimer: I am no expert, I could be wrong, but I share my thoughts because it’s the chain of logic that finally helped me understand what was happening, and I thought it might help someone else as well. (Also I needed to unload my brain.)
First: Stay Calm. This isn’t the end of the world. Do Not Panic.
The population of Hubei, the province in China where all this started, where they didn’t even know they had a new disease for nearly two months (details: they are now saying Patient Zero contracted around mid-November, Chinese officials told WHO they had dozens of cases of unknown pneumonia on December 31, they identified it was a new virus on January 7, and didn’t quarantine the city until January 24)….the population is 58.5 MILLION.
Of that 58.5 million, 67,790 people have gotten the coronavirus as of today. That’s 0.1% of the population of the most caught off guard people group.
Once that 58.5 million started following strict social distancing guidelines, their rate of spread fell dramatically.
So in that way, these numbers make it seem like not a big deal. And it isn’t – as long as we don’t get it all at once. Note that they QUIT getting it AFTER they social distanced. Meaning that social distancing is the only way to slow/prevent the exponential growth the virus has if left to its own devices.
Second: Pay Attention. It is a big deal.
Italy is at the moment the example of the worst case scenario. The numbers are why.
Four Fridays ago: 21 cases of coronavirus.
Three Fridays ago: 1,128 cases – a multiplication of 53.7 times more cases.
Last Friday: 4,636 cases – a multiplication of 4.1 times more cases.
This Friday: 17,660 cases – a multiplication of 3.8 times more cases. Or, in three weeks, a multiplication of 841 times more cases.
This is a serious issue because their medical infrastructure cannot handle this, and their death rate is higher because they simply cannot treat everyone. The doctors are having to make horrific decisions of who gets treatment and who dies for lack of treatment.
The exponential power and especially speed of this virus is dangerous if left unchecked. Yes, it’s not dangerous to everyone, and it’s still a small percentage of the population, BUT when numbers are increasing at that rate of multipliers, it takes mere weeks to be a severely dangerous situation.
Third: Have Hope. We can be proactive and prevent the worst case.
If we socially distance now, before we know if we have it and how many people have it, we prevent the multiplier.
*** We are not sheltering in place out of fear, but out of prevention. ***
The best case scenario is that, in a couple months, all the people who said this virus is a political sham are laughing in our face and saying “See? I told you so.”
Fourth: Don’t Be Selfish. It’s not about you.
Yes, the virus can be very mild – so mild that you don’t know you have it. Yes, the death rate for younger people is drastically low.
But all lives are valuable. ALL lives. And if we, as “younger” people, can get it and not even know we have it, then we have the potential of spreading it to someone that is older or that has secondary health problems without even knowing we did it. That makes younger, healthy people not just a null value in this equation – it makes them a weapon.
If you cannot be motivated to practice social distancing for yourself, practice social distancing for your grandmother. For your elderly neighbor. For your friend with diabetes. For your uncle with heart disease. For my grandmother. For that stranger’s grandmother. Because every life has value.
If we preventatively limit our social interactions (not necessarily our leaving home – just minimizing our close proximity as many people as we practically can), then we prevent the exponential growth, and we prevent being a part of the cause of suffering of others.
So. Am I going to my friend’s 45th birthday dinner, consisting of a small group of friends? Yes. Am I going out to eat randomly just so I don’t have to cook? Probably not, but I might send Chris to the drive-thru. Am I going to keep running and hiking? Yes, because there aren’t large groups of people involved in that. Am I going to church, or sporting events, or to hang out at the mall or the movies? Nope. That can wait.
Those are my personal decisions, and certainly not black and white guidelines. Everyone needs to weigh their personal situations and make informed decisions.
Numbers both alleviated my fear and inspired me to do a large amount of social distancing to keep the numbers low. But it’s not out of fear. It’s more like eating yogurt. It’s a Probiotic.