A Coronavirus Realization in Colorado
(Dated the evening of March 12, with the knowledge that things are changing rapidly, objectively and subjectively as well)
There are no cases of coronavirus in Fort Collins, Colorado. Or at least that is what I thought before I spoke to my son who promptly helped me to consider things differently. He told me that there were definitely cases of coronavirus in Fort Collins, but that we just didn’t know about them yet. He said if there are cases in Denver there are cases in Fort Collins, a mere hour from Denver.
Yesterday interrupted by states of sadness and even opposition to the term “elderly”; it got me centered with awareness that I simply and not, hadn’t received, taken in, or understood. I hadn’t “gotten” some of the key concepts surrounding the coronavirus and I suspect I’m not alone here.
My drama began when I left the gym where I do a water class and a friend called saying the worst place to go is gyms because of the machines. I felt I was in the clear but then I realized that even if chlorine kills so many germs the person to person contact level in the water and in the building is still great.
I began to have my own realization: Seeing, in this case, could not be believing, or at least it would not be the effective and the sound way to go about believing. As it happened, my son helped me understand that the virus is on the move and people are being contaminated by this virus while nobody is seeing it happen and when nobody is looking. It’s something contagious that spreads without being seen by the naked eye. In other words, it’s all going on under the surface and it is not obvious to many of us precisely for this reason.
I realized the whole thing felt very counter-intuitive. In other words, the way we generally identify danger or worry or the need to be very cautious, was not straightforward in this situation. And of course, the different ways in which we need to learn about this include the fact that one person who is sick and doesn’t know it, can infect a slew of people within a fairly wide space, such as a conference hall, or concert hall or party reception.
And another thing that was pertinent to me with my water class, the contagion has more to do with the shared breathing space — the shared air — than the fact that the water has chlorine, which can fight bacteria. And another thing I needed to remember: it isn’t only me that could be at risk but people with whom I could come into contact as I could then unwittingly be a source of contagion.
Paul said that if we all took the necessary precautions ahead of out and out obvious threats, we might look back on these measures and feel they had been exaggerated. And why would this be? It would be because we had done the right things to limit the disastrous consequences and so people might be tempted to feel the actions hadn’t been necessary in the first place. When it would actually be those precautions that had in fact would have saved the day.
We live at a time when few people trust media in general. There is easily the knee jerk reaction to feel that to call the coronavirus a pandemic could be a “hoax” (that would be Trump) or that leftwing extremists are making things seem worse than they are. Or that Democrats love the existence of the virus, or that everyone exaggerates everything. There has been a growing tendency to stick to and feed a particular belief system without even trying to gauge what the actual facts are — particularly when real knowledge flies in the face of one’s prior conviction. It becomes particularly important to help those of us who are confused or stubborn to make sense of the dynamics of this disease and its spread that can seem, as I suggested earlier, counter-intuitive and off base.
Then, of course, there are those of us stupefied by the toilet paper phenomenon — the preoccupation with stockpiling loads of toilet paper and the panic about it going missing in major supermarkets. This phenomenon just might make Americans look like we spend entire days in or on the toilet. So, there are people who seem hysterical (and it can be hard not to be that) and people who will have their last stand (I was almost one of them) as a skeptic and a refuser, as a person who refuses to change social behavior one iota even in the face of important evidence that would necessitate that change.
I realize that we badly need (and need to search for) the most reliable and sober sources, like the World Health Organization as only one example, to help us be as safe as possible as we evaluate things in the coming weeks. The good news is that we might see changes for the better if we follow the guidelines.
Blame is a pretty popular sport right now. It’s not a sport banned as of yet, either in big arenas or in the battlegrounds of our more private grudges and suspicions. Although there seems to be reason to believe that it can be a health hazard, particularly when it doesn’t lead to improvement in our ways and means to fight dangers that are very real.