"You've got to stop obsessing about this", said Eva. "Unplug for a while," said Mark.
Easier said than done.
I look at the stats. We have not flattened the curve. Not at all. In fact, we're doing worse than Italy over the same number of days. What happened there is almost certainly going to happen here.
What happened in Italy? Corpses thrown out windows into trucks. No funerals. Civil unrest is spreading after four weeks of lockdown.
I have spent a number of sleepless nights running numbers, because you can't argue with the cold reality of exponential functions. In America two weeks ago, 110 people had succumbed to the virus, and the numerate people who predicted 3100 dead by today were scoffed at.
The toll as of today in the United States is 3126.
So the certainty is that this is going to get a lot worse. How much worse is a matter of conjecture. There are too many uncertainties, still. I can visualize everything from a resurrection around July to the complete and total breakdown of society by October...or long before. That last may sound insane to you. Look at Italy after just a month: it's not.
Every innocent cough is suspect. Every half-degree of fever could be a harbinger of hell. And yes, I know that this virus has an appetite for the elderly and the immunocompromised. But it can and does strike people down in the prime of life, and it can move remarkably quickly. One case study I read yesterday involved a man in his 20s who walked on to his ambulance unaided...and by the time he got to the hospital, he had to put into a deep coma and ventilated. His life support was pulled the next day.
But it can also move very slowly, with some people reporting gradual onset of symptoms over the space of several days. And as we all know, this is further complicated by the fact many carries show zero symptoms, or very mild ones.
There is just too much uncertainty for my mind to churn over. I've always been someone who wants as much information as possible, even if it's horrible. It's impossible to get it all, but I live by Heinlein's admonition
“What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”
There aren't enough facts, yet. I was heartened to find out Johnson and Johnson has a leading candidate for a vaccine, until I saw they aren't even starting phase one of testing until September. I confess I was more upset than I should have been at that: what the hell is the holdup? Eva set me straight on that. You want to move slowly and carefully with these things, because your cure could well be much worse than the disease. My literalist streak strikes again: I saw "leading candidate" and thought that meant there was just a few tweaks before we could all be vaccinated en masse and this slow-motion horror would be over. Sadly, I was wrong.
Many others are justly worried about their jobs and their businesses. Another confession: my initial reaction to that was far from charitable, until I sat back and thought much of this is coming from people who are healthy, to their knowledge; without relatives or friends in intensive care units struggling to breathe. Of course this wouldn't seem quite real to them, and also? The sheer scale of what this virus has accomplished in so short a time is just staggering. We face global challenges recovering from this.
I once worked for a boss who outlawed that word. "They're not the C-word", he said, putting me briefly in mind of an entirely different c-word. "They are OPPORTUNITIES". Like, gag me with an entire placesetting. But in this case he's right. As one of the infinite number of Facebook memes I've seen recently has it: 'BEFORE WE GO BACK TO NORMAL, YOU MIGHT WISH TO CONSIDER WHAT PARTS OF NORMAL ARE WORTH GOING BACK TO". I'll tell you this, friends and neighbours: given the $2000 a month that Trudeau has made available, there will be a very pointed discussion on why it is handicapped people and those on welfare are expected to live on half that or less.
We're going to have to rebuild it, a little or a lot. We can. We have the technology. We can make society revolve around people instead of the almighty dollar.
One thing is certain. Loves, friends, strangers, you're all getting hugged when this is over.
Stay safe, stay healthy.