Opinion March 29, 2020 | 1:10 pm

A crown of storms: this too shall pass

The crown virus of chaos

Renn Loren

Coronavirus, economic collapse, shutdown, lockdown, quarantine, isolation, curfews, and pandemic are all media buzzwords we have recently all become more familiar with than we’d ever wish.

But these are the times in which we are living now, suddenly. And although this is a worldwide tragedy of human loss and financial disaster, it could have been much worse.

As pandemics go, with the coronavirus nature has rolled us a one on a scale of one being most mild and six being most severe. As bad as things might be right now with a 1%-4% mortality rate, this could just as quickly have been a four, five, or six with losses of life in the 50-80% range. And that would have been truly and utterly devastating on a scale we could not even begin to imagine: psychologically, medically, sociologically, and economically.

This current coronavirus pandemic is a massive major wake-up call for governments and their health care systems to prepare and to be prepared for pandemics as well as other catastrophic events. More will undoubtedly come as they have in the past.

From a citizen’s standpoint, this catastrophe is teaching us how well or poorly, we react to the needs and demands of such an unanticipated, unnerving, and challenging event. Suspicions, fears, theories, and rumors run rampant in such extraordinary societal climes. It is critically important at such times and in such conditions to keep a level head and not to spread false or unsourced inflammatory information.

Think of the welfare of your fellow human beings as you go through your day. Leave a few items on the shelves of stores for others. If the last pack of toilet paper is all that’s left, then fine, take it if you really need it. But please inform the stockers in the store that you just took the last one. Do not hoard and don’t fall into the dog-eat-dog mentality of sheer panic. This is not a game of survival but a matter of getting through a daunting challenge by working together. Everyone for themselves will not work in these circumstances. We will only overcome this crisis by thinking of and considering the well-being of each other.

Although you may not be affected adversely by the virus personally, you may carry it and infect someone else less physically fortunate than yourself. And those afflicted could suffer very dire consequences as a result.

As the sayings go, “Fear is the currency of control” and “there is no problem so bad you cannot make it worse.” Governments will harness all their resources and focus their priorities to ensure that food, water, and necessary infrastructure will remain available, intact and functioning through the crisis. The primary concern is to stop the spread of infection. And that can only be accomplished by people keeping public social interactions to an absolute minimum and maintaining the suggested two meters/six feet of space between all people in public, wearing protective gear in public areas, washing hands frequently and well, and obeying curfews and quarantine orders.

These measures might seem to be an overreaction and overly-extreme, but the goal is to shut down the transmission of the coronavirus, which is very contagious and infectious, as quickly and thoroughly as possible to counter an exponential infection rate. As everyone has heard by now, we need to flatten the curve of infection rates so as not to overwhelm the health systems.

The most significant challenge to flattening the curve is that COVID-19 is often asymptomatic, and an infected person can show no outward signs of having or carrying the virus—no cough, no sneezing, no symptoms of any sickness for 5-12 days after infection.

It’s best to consider everyone and every surface as infected and take all the necessary corresponding precautions. And, above all, stay home for anything but essential reasons such as food or supplies shopping (do not hoard!!!) and avoid closer than 2 meters of social distancing contact with people in any unavoidable public situations.

As difficult as it might be, realize that this is a temporary situation. It may last two to three more months and will likely significantly alter the global economies, but it will pass. With any luck, we will have exposed the most significant areas of failure in the health systems and governments. Hopefully, after the threat of continuing contagion clears, we will achieve a proper level of pandemic preparedness for the future.

This coronavirus crisis is a blaring wake-up call for us to come to a better understanding of the need for profound changes in social values, interpersonal cooperation, and humanitarian-oriented programs and attitudes. Such an event underscores the need for compassion and assistance rather than criticism and judgment, and the realization that good health is not always a choice but an incredibly fragile state that can randomly be taken from us at a moment’s notice through the sheer whimsy of nature and fate.

The mass majority of us will survive the viral aspect of this pandemic physically unharmed. It is the economic fallout and aftermath that will likely prove the most challenging aspect of this event. There are bound to be some rough, hard times in the next three or four months ahead. The uncertainty, chaos, and disorder of the pandemic are bad enough. And such abnormality and disarray naturally arouse our survival instincts and fears. No doubt, economic hardship will only add to the overall sense of dread, anxiety, and apprehension for the future that we’re all feeling.

If the pangs of panic become overwhelming, try turning off the news, reading uplifting, entertaining, or informative books, watch some great comedy series, films, refocus on a hobby. Get together with other members in your quarantine zone and brainstorm solutions to possible upcoming problems. In short, do something else rather than view the world through a coronavirus-pandemic-obsessed media lens and bias: There is still a whole world of things going on that are not the coronavirus or the economy.

To paraphrase this passage from Federico Alberto Cuello’s “A Shock of Optimism.”

Federico Alberto Cuello

 

‘Incredible optimism is how we face the day-to-day in the Dominican Republic, with the proper discipline and inexhaustible hope, knowing more and more what really matters: the health and happiness of family and friends. Optimism allows us to understand that survival is possible and that we will return to growth sooner rather than later, just as we did after bankruptcies, earthquakes, and hurricanes.’

As with all of life’s most pressing challenges, perhaps the first step to making things better is just to not make them worse.

Stay home and wash your hands.