Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Corona Virus: In the Beginning

In just three or four short weeks, the corona virus has gone from zero to out of control.  To be perfectly selfish, I'm happy I'm semi-retired and live in a rural area in the North Carolina mountains.  Yes, the wife and I are over 65, so we're in the high-risk category.  But self-quarantine is not too difficult to do here.  We don't have to go anywhere much, just the dump, post office, and grocery store.  I go down to Asheville to work in my studio, and I'm alone there.  My life drawing sessions are cancelled for the duration.  My proposal-writing work is always done from home.  So we're in fairly good shape.

As mentioned in the last post, I got a scare during my time at Muscatatuck a couple of weeks ago.  Three people got very sick.  Turned out they had the flu, rather than Covid-19, but the scare was real.  As I write this, the Defense Department has not cancelled next month's training.  I expect they will, but just in case, I notified them that I will not be at next month's training.  I love doing that work and believe it's important.  But while important, the training is not critical to our students' missions, it just helps them do their jobs (all supporting military bases and operations) better.  On the other hand, coming down with Covid-19 could kill me or my wife.  That's not a risk I'm willing to take.  And if that means I don't get called back to do the training anymore, so be it.

In this area of North Carolina, there aren't many cases yet, but they're growing every day.  Asheville has 12 cases at the moment and it's clear that the virus is spreading through the community.  What that seems to mean is that some/many people are asymptomatic and are passing the virus without actually getting sick themselves.  The only way to know for sure how broadly it has spread around the community is to test everybody, and that, of course, won't happen.  Our governor has closed all public schools and taken some other measures.  Buncombe County (where Asheville is) and Asheville itself have implemented some more.  I live in Madison County, north of Asheville.  We don't have any known cases yet, but our county manager has requested everybody implement shelter-at-home procedures.  That's a smart call.  I manage the art gallery at Mars Hill University, and the school is basically closed, with students doing their classes online.  We closed the gallery and have no idea when we might be able to have a show again. 

Meanwhile, New York is getting hit hard and the federal government in Washington is proving to be incapable of handling the crisis.  Trump downplayed it for weeks, then grudgingly accepted that it was dangerous.  But his words and actions have been totally irresponsible.  His touting of unproven capabilities for a lupus drug to counter the corona virus has led people to hoard the drug at home, meaning the real lupus patients can't get it, and nobody knows if the drug does anything to the coronavirus anyway!  And one man has died because he took something with a similar name and it killed him.  Meanwhile, none of the federal agencies, all "led" by people who are trying to prove they're loyal to Trump rather than accomplish their jobs, are getting much of anything done.  The real leader in the country is Governor Cuomo of New York.  He's doing news conferences every day, telling New Yorkers the straight scoop, implementing the measures he can, and trying to get the equipment and supplies needed to fight the virus.  With little/no help from the feds, I might add.  And today, Trump said he wants to have the US open for business again by Easter, which is two and a half weeks away.  What a dumbass.  That will just lead to more sick people, more overloaded hospitals, and more deaths.

So I'm doing what I can, which is to sit tight and have as little direct contact with other people as possible.  Not only am I trying not to get the virus from others, I'm trying to not pass it on if it's already in me.  I'm washing my hands, carrying disinfectant wipes around with me, using those blue medical gloves, and staying away from people.  And I'm afraid we'll have to be doing this for a year or more, until a vaccine is available.

A truism from the Lord of the Rings:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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