COVID 19, the Coronavirus, is triggering global panic.
As I write this, the World Health Organization (WHO) just declared it a pandemic, citing “alarming levels of spread and… levels of inaction.” Right now, you will find over 120,000 documented cases worldwide and over 1,000 in 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 heard about “self-quarantine.” Miriam Webster now catalogues it in the top one percent of lookups.
One might say that the media is over-hyping the crisis to obtain eyeballs and clicks. One might be right. Yet, there’s also the best cause for concern. Between the unreliable information stream; the natural fear all of us have of the unknown; in addition to feeling that people are leaves in the rapids, propelled without control; it’s normal to own to carry from increasing the nauseous sense of panic welling up in our throats.
Since the serenity prayer says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to alter the things I could, COVID19 test clinic near me and the wisdom to know the difference.” This problem is so not in the “change the things I can change” column. The best advice is “make sure to breathe.” Clear a moment. Close your eyes. Have a long, deep breath. Allow it out. Repeat. Color it “acceptance”
However, what’ll our society seem like post-virus?
And yes, it will undoubtedly be gone. There will be a morning after. Many of us will undoubtedly be here when the sun rises on that day. If we use China as a template, the scourge – if handled well (and that’s a topic for another column) – will need about eight weeks to operate its course.
I’m sure you will find greater predictive minds than mine looking to that particular time, although I believe some consequences already are making themselves known.
Per Wikipedia, “Social distancing is… (a method to) control actions… to prevent or slow down the spread of a very contagious disease.” As all of us know, it has been implemented by curtailing and canceling large gatherings, such as for instance concerts, sporting events, conventions – not to mention schools, churches, and businesses. Cities have banned gatherings over 250 people. Italy has virtually locked the doors and thrown away the keys. New Rochelle, NY has a one-mile containment zone. Most of these actions are 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 in our homes, associating only with those we trust.
Sadly – out of a perceived necessity – we are 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 the same, even after the Coronavirus is relegated to the same place in history as polio, SARS or the Black Plague. We shall “do things” differently
As humans, we are 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 our nature, causing sadness and internal conflict that may remain long to the future. It’ll show itself as us being more physically – and emotionally - isolated; nesting more, using virtual links more frequently than we do now, seeking out that connection we no more feel safe receiving in public. Fear and suspicion of the “other,” already an important difficulty in society, has been amplified.
You may or might not agree with my calculations but, being a battle-scarred optimist, I want to genuinely believe that maybe, just maybe, this horrendous period gives bright-light brilliance to the truth that – irrespective of our color, gender, sexual preference, political leanings, even the country in which we live – we are One. Each people loves and fears and does the very best he or she knows how exactly to do. Yet, in a New York minute, it could all be change, through no fault of our own.
I actually do know that no real matter what the near future carries, we stand an improved chance if we can find ways to help and hold each other through this period, whether that’s via a video conference or within large conference.