As I'm sure everybody reading this knows, the Coronavirus is wrecking havoc around the globe. It doesn't matter what country you are in, what political ideology you follow or what economic class you belong to, this is a serious pandemic and it's spreading like wildfire. This being the situation, I have made the decision to self quarantine as much as possible for the sake of myself, my wife and everybody else.
We can't of course know what we don't know. That's the one element of this that makes it so scary and unpredictable. In terms of the United States, there are still a lot of people downplaying this as a threat because infection rates are low and most people haven't gotten it. The hard truth of the matter is that this is bollocks as we simply have no way to actually know whether or not that's actually true. This is largely due to the unequivocal epic failure of the Trump Administration to prepare adequately. For starters Trump fired the entire Pandemic Response team in 2018 in order to cut costs. Secondly their insistence on hand waving this away has put us into a position where we can't even test people to find out who is infected and who is not. We think of ourselves as a first world country with all the best faculties at our disposal, but the opposite is actually true. Compare our response to that of South Korea. Please note that while this information is 10 days old, South Korea has only accelerated their response whereas ours hasn't even gotten off the ground yet.
- South Korea has tested more than 140,000 people for the new Coronavirus and confirmed more than 6,000 cases. Its fatality rate is around 0.6%.
- This suggests that, as many health experts have predicted, the virus' fatality rate seems to decrease as more cases are reported.
- That's because more widespread testing leads more mild cases to be included in the count.
- The US, by contrast, has tested around 1,500 people. The country has 221 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, suggesting a death rate of 5%.
- The US' testing capacity has been limited.
The US and South Korea announced their first cases of the Coronavirus on the same day: January 20. More than six weeks later, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested around 1,500 people for the virus. South Korea, meanwhile, has tested about 140,000.
Regardless of your political affiliation, those statistics speak for themselves. In addition to that there are a wide variety of signs that the federal governments response has simply not been and continues to not be adequate. Due to the combination of the unknown nature of the threat and the continued lackluster response by the federal government, I have decided to self quarantine. My primary reason for doing this now is because my wife Annette currently suffers from ulcerative colitis. This is an autoimmune disease which means that her immune system has been compromised. I cannot in good conscience risk my wife's life by continuing to leave the house as often as I have. The good news here is that I'm 95% hermit already so I don't have to make too many major changes in order to accommodate this decision. I did however have to adjust my availability with one of my clients and we have taken steps to stock up on enough basic supplies so that we can keep trips to places like the grocery store to a minimum.
Speaking of that, I went to the grocery store yesterday. It felt like I was playing Russian Roulette. Whether this is just a sign of the callousness of my fellow Greer dwellers or just something I happened to notice due to my newfound sense of hypersensitivity about it, I noticed at least three older people walking around coughing on a variety of items at the store. One older woman was just slowly browsing the meat aisle while liberally coughing all over every piece of meat that she picked up to examine.
I think that's when the reality of this thing really set in for me. I don't know if this syndrome is localized or whether or not other people are experiencing this in a wider variety of locales (or perhaps its related to political bent), but the average person still doesn't seem to get it here in South Carolina. In particular the older ones seem to be largely unconcerned with the risk factors at play here. Before that trip I was only mildly concerned and was just tentatively starting to think about limiting visits to more recreational venues. After that trip I discovered the motivation to finally adopt a firm stance on how we are going to deal with this pandemic and to start making drastic changes in an effort to get out in front of this thing.
How is that exactly? By staying the hell away from everybody else as much as possible. It really is that simple. In addition to restricting outside visits, we plan on keeping deliveries to an absolute minimum as we'd like to minimize both our risk and the risk of the delivery personnel currently working in the face of this thing. While I appreciate the fact that everybody needs to put food on their table and a lot of people in this country currently live paycheck to paycheck, we need to realize that there are bigger concerns than money, especially in situations like these. That is of course why, unsavory compromises aside, I support getting a bill through the House and the Senate and signed by President Trump as soon as possible that will help to address some of these issues.
In any event, I think that if you can work from home, you absolutely should be doing that. If you can't, it might be a good time to use some vacation or sick time if you have it available. If you aren't one of the lucky people who get benefits like that, then I would sit down with your employer and attempt to work something out. Furloughing people at a lower pay rate now will be much cheaper than whatever lawsuit may await them down the road for not acting appropriately.
The reality is that we are all in this together. But the callous behavior of my fellow countrymen have forced me to hunker down and pull my wife close in an effort to avoid the worst of the possible blow back. I can only hope that as this thing continues to evolve and drag on over the coming weeks and months, that the people I saw yesterday start to realize what the actual stakes are here and respond accordingly.
My hope is that everybody reading this chooses to do the same. In any event, I hope to see you all on the other side of this thing. Stay safe and take care of yourselves!