I have said it to individuals over the past few weeks, and I will say it here and continue to do so until people listen: everyone needs to calm down. Myself included.
Yes, the situation is bad. I’ll briefly review all the ways in which people are being impacted.
The human cost is the worst around COVID-19 as this novel coronavirus has spread across the globe and right here at home. As of the time I wrote this, the confirmed case numbers locally sat at 10 people found positive and more than 1,500 statewide. Confirmed patient numbers will continue to rise as the number of people who have been tested increases over time locally and statewide.
Sadly, more than 50 people died due directly to COVID-19. My condolences go out to those families who are suffering from their loss right now.
We have to come to grips too that there’s not much more information than that to share. We’ve asked health officials to share some additional details: if patients are being hospitalized locally, what condition they are in, and what geographic locations they are from in Polk County. Some of those facts can’t be shared because it might reveal something about a patient’s identity, which would violate the privacy rules laid down in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA as it is usually referred to in these kinds of discussions.
So unfortunately, those answers aren’t available as the state determines what is being shared at this time. We wish we had more to say at the moment.
I’m asking anyone who wishes to come forward and tell their story about COVID-19 and wishes to share their story, I’d like to hear from them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your workplace isn’t providing enough information but sending people home, that is something I’d also like to hear about.
To continue the litany of bad news, it seems our economic fortunes are just as bad as our fortunes for getting case increases to subside.
The markets have cratered after reaching great heights in February. Unemployment as of Thursday, March 26 saw a new record height as more than 3 million Americans sought help after losing their jobs en masse in several industries. Congress went back and forth over a stimulus package with direct payments to citizens as the crisis over COVID-19 continues. $2 trillion worth of economic stimulus that includes loans, help for state and local governments and a range of items that need to be handled right now. That’s not to say what things are going to look like in the future.
Society as we have come to understand it is grinding to a standstill around the spread of the virus. We’ve had to call off events where 10 or more people could be gathered, meaning that a wide range of our daily lives have been halted. Businesses are having to shift to work from home policies. Schools are closed (locally now through April 24.) Ceremonies of all kinds can’t be held. The start of the baseball season is postponed for the majors, and halted for the High Schools. In recent days local governments began to take emergency measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, curtailing gatherings and closing dine-in service at restaurants and bars.
Personally I’ve gone through a lot too. I’ve been involved in the opening of a restaurant here in Cedartown, run by my better half Jess and our friend Marty out of the kitchen behind Cedar and Smoke. The following day was my 35th birthday. Then I was responsible for a wreck. The saddest news of all, after suffering from complications due to dementia, my grandmother Peggie Moore of Huntsville died at the age of 88.
She was a wonderful woman who I adored for as long as I’ve been on the planet, and her loss is a real heartbreak in my life at the moment. I wish more than anything that I had the kind of time to grieve as one traditionally does in these moments in life, but like so many aspects of our lives we’re having to adjust to the situation at hand.
Right now, we are all overcome by tragedy in one form or another. Globally together we are experiencing the loss of our sense of security, our ability to socialize as we are so great at doing together in person. We are all having to get used to the idea of having to isolate from one another in one form, and connect in another.
Humanity has previously experienced these kinds of situations before. History classes do not do justice to the horrible pandemic of 1918 known as the “Spanish Flu.” It changed the course of the first World War by impacting both sides in the trenches, and caused a great calamity on the homefront in both the military and civilian populations during the latter half of the conflict on the Western front.
The flu spread globally just like COVID-19, killing an estimated 50 million people with around 675,000 of those in the United States alone and was one of the worst pandemics in modern history. It turns out that strain of the flu was H1N1, which popped back up in our consciousness 11 years ago during the Swine Flu outbreak.
We survived pandemics then, and we’ll survive this one too.
I think we all need some time to grieve over what has happened over the past several months — going from being able to go out and live our lives, to being ordered in some places to stay home and keep away from folks unless absolutely necessary. We are having to adjust being around the house when we are used to spending our days in the office. Hugs and handshakes are right out the window for right now.
Coming to grips with all that is happening in such a short period of time, and of the sudden loss of some staples of life (it is a shame I didn’t get to see my Auburn Tigers play in the NCAA tournament this time around.) Yet we have to remember that humanity has been here before, and will likely be here again.
After the ups and downs I’ve suffered personally over the past couple of weeks and what we’re going through together, I can understand completely why people are feeling panicked and put upon right now. It all seems unfair, right?
Viruses don’t care about right and wrong, what is fair and isn’t. The virus only makes its way from one host to the next, attaching itself to our cells and taking over as biofactories to reproduce and spread. It has no thought or intention. It merely moves through contact from one person to the next, sometimes sickening it’s host and in others leaving completely free of symptoms.
Getting through all that has happened and is going to happen will require something we all need to be reminded of right now: calm and patience. We have to follow the rules about social distancing, and we have to stay at home if we’re sick or seek immediate assistance if we’re in real trouble. We have to keep our distance from friends and remain cautious about showing affection with our family members.
We have to cover our coughs. We have to stop hoarding items that medical professionals need.
Oh, and we absolutely must listen to what the doctors are saying right now. Their advice might hurt more than we want it to right now, but it is the cost we must pay for our society remaining healthy and stable for the future.
I understand just as much as the next small business owner out there how much this hurts right now. I helped launch a restaurant in the midst of all this turmoil. Yet if we can hang on and make it work, so can you.
I think we can all agree that the world as we are adjusting to right now is extremely strange at the moment. Yet I continue to tell myself the following: no matter what happens, the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, and everything continues forward. We also need to remember that just because life has been put on pause for a moment while we figure out how to go ahead with existence around distance from one another, we are still all here.
How we continue forward will depend largely upon how we face the tough times together ahead. Follow directives that have been put out. Try to keep life going as much as possible. Support local businesses and remember that we can see this as a crisis or an opportunity. I’m gambling on the latter. What are you prepared to do?