COVID 19, the Coronavirus, is triggering global panic.
As I write this, the World Health Organization (WHO) just declared it a pandemic, citing “alarming degrees of spread and… degrees of inaction.” Today, you will find over 120,000 documented cases worldwide and over 1,000 in the United States. I’m positive that by the full time you’re scanning this, those numbers will seem nostalgic. Things move blindingly fast. As illustration, three weeks ago, we hadn’t even heard of “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 get eyeballs and clicks. One might be right. Yet, there’s also the best reason for concern. Involving the unreliable information stream; the natural fear all of us have of the unknown; in addition to feeling that we are leaves in the rapids, propelled without control; it’s normal to have to put on from increasing the nauseous sense of panic welling up in our throats.
Since the serenity prayer says, “God, grant me the serenity to just accept the things I cannot change, courage to alter the things I could, COVID19 test clinic near me and the wisdom to learn the difference.” This condition is so not in the “change the things I may change” column. The most effective advice is “make sure to breathe.” Clear a moment. Close your eyes. Have a long, deep breath. Allow it to out. Repeat. Color it “acceptance”
However, what will our society appear to be post-virus?
And yes, it will soon be gone. There is a morning after. Many of us will soon be here when the sun rises on that day. When we use China as a template, the scourge – if handled well (and that’s a topic for another column) – will require 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 do believe some consequences are already making themselves known.
Per Wikipedia, “Social distancing is… (a method to) control actions… to avoid or decelerate the spread of a highly contagious disease.” As all of us know, it will be implemented by curtailing and canceling large gatherings, such as for example concerts, sports, conventions – not to mention schools, churches, and businesses. Cities have banned gatherings over 250 people. Italy has virtually locked the doors and discarded the keys. New Rochelle, NY features a one-mile containment zone. Most of these actions are increasingly being executed with the intent of flattening the “expansion curve,” a lofty goal but with side effects.
We’re traveling less – even within our personal 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 exactly we do things around here.” Our culture – for better or worse – won’t “do things” like we did before this disease. It won’t look nor feel the same, even after the Coronavirus is relegated to the same invest history as polio, SARS or the Black Plague. We will “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 your nature, causing sadness and internal conflict that’ll remain long into the future. It will 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 further feel safe receiving in public. Fear and suspicion of the “other,” already a major difficulty in society, will be amplified.
You may or might not trust my calculations but, being a battle-scarred optimist, I wish to feel that maybe, just maybe, this horrendous period gives bright-light brilliance to the fact – regardless of our color, gender, sexual preference, political leanings, even the nation by which we live – we are One. Each people loves and fears and does the most effective he or she knows just how to do. Yet, in a New York minute, it could all be change, through no fault of our own.
I really do understand that no matter what the long run carries, we stand a better chance if we could find ways to help and hold one another through this period, whether that’s using a video conference or as part of large conference.