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Coronavirus closings: overreaction or wise precaution?

Coronavirus closings: overreaction or wise precaution?
Coronavirus closings: overreaction or wise precaution?
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell
Viewpoint of Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

It may only be March, but we all know what the defining event of 2020 will be.

Coronavirus has impacted virtually every person on the planet in some manner, whether it be as serious as having contracted the dreaded virus or as disastrous as not being able to buy a pack of toilet paper. Who knew so many households lived from week to week with this precious commodity?

I am not making light of the situation, although it’s probably healthy to see a bit of humor at this point.

No matter what anyone says, you know it’s real when Disney closes. When the NCAA cancels its annual tournament. When the governor of Indiana allows schools to close for 20 days without having to make up a single one of them. And that’s just three examples.

Most of us have never dealt with a situation like this in our lifetimes. That, of course, means we don’t really know what we’re doing. However, something has to be done. Only most of us don’t seem to agree on the measures being taken.

We’re scared. We’re agitated. We’re angry our plans have been changed for us. We’re upset at the unfairness of missing tournaments and vacations and proms and who knows what else. We don’t like it one bit.

I get it.

I also get that we have become a very spoiled, self-centered country.

In recent years, I have read quite a bit of World War II history. One of the things that struck me most was the unbelievable extremes Americans went to aid the war effort. Women saved bacon drippings. Children collected newspapers. Men hauled any scrap of spare metal to the courthouse lawn. All these tiny bits contributed by individuals made a massive difference in our ability to feed and arm our troops. Americans’ willingness to deprive themselves of things like sugar and coffee and new tires for their cars absolutely did help us win the war.

Fast forward to 2020. I’m not confident people have the ability to make it through a week without a 12-pack of Charmin or a vat of hand sanitizer. It’s ridiculous, and it’s sad.

We should be better than this. But, I don’t know if we ever will be again.

Coronavirus has brought out millions of medical “experts,” the vast majority of whom have shared their (ahem) knowledge via that all-consuming medium we know as Facebook. Goodness gracious. As this situation has progressed, the outrage has grown.

How dare those idiots (read elected officials and actual medical experts) suggest we change our comfortable routines, upset our plans for the greater good? “We’re not even sick!!!” “It’s not even that bad.” “This is just blown WAY out of proportion.”

That sums up about 95% of the posts I saw.

Several commented on the discovery of the word “coronavirus” on the back of disinfectant wipes, convinced their detective work had unearthed a conspiracy: “How did they know about a virus we knew nothing about?” Regarding that last one, thank the Lord several people who actually work in the medical field explained that coronavirus is a large family of viruses. It’s been around for a long time. The current one is a new strain. Conspiracy busted.

I’ll admit, a part of me wondered at first if it wasn’t a bit too much, all the closings and cancellations.

That changed when I saw the chart shared by a doctor speaking at a press conference Thursday by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. It had four lines. The top one represented the number of coronavirus cases that would occur with no social isolation. It went straight up. The next two showed how the number would decrease with 25% isolation and 50% isolation. With complete isolation (impossible, of course), it was a flat line.

I got it.

The “overreaction” has a single purpose: To prevent America from becoming a China or Italy with coronavirus. Yes, it seems extreme. It is extreme. But, that’s the only way we’re gonna kick this thing without hundreds, maybe even thousands, of deaths.

My personal physician summed up how the country would react. I think she hit the nail on the head: “IF we manage to keep the virus from doing to us what has happened in Italy and China, you will say, ‘See, nothing happened and it was just a bunch of political theatrics.’ IF we do everything we can and the virus STILL runs through our country as it has others, you will say, ‘We did not do enough, we should have been more proactive and our government and healthcare system failed us’.”

Coronavirus has been compared to other pandemics that had drastic, devastating effects. One of the most horrible was the Black Death, which killed between 75 million and 200 million people in the 14th century. That’s an estimated one-third of the world population.

The 1918 Spanish flu was responsible for 50 million deaths around the globe, including hundreds of thousands of Americans. Did you know it was the end of World War I that helped it take hold? All across America, people turned out by the thousands on town and city squares to celebrate the end of the war. The flu, which had already started, spread like wildfire.

So, if we cancel things like concerts and basketball tournaments, maybe, just maybe, it’s a wise precaution.

I’ll close by sharing one of the few intelligent Facebook posts I found. It is authored by one of my second cousins. She may be young but, darn, I think she’s pretty smart: “Everyone keeps comparing this virus to all those other deadly diseases and complaining that it’s just not serious enough to warrant the recommended preventive measures, but I kinda thought that was part of what we were trying to PREVENT…ya know, a high casualty situation.”