Writer’s Workshop: Covid-19

I thought this was an interesting prompt, and though I tend to stay away from controversial topics I think I’ll say something about this.

What are your thoughts about the Coronavirus? Are [you] preparing for the worst or do you think it has been overhyped?

The answer to the second question, which those of you who know me best will say is just what they expected me to say, is "yes." In other words, we are prepared for the worst, and I think it’s been overhyped.

Mary has ensured that we have sufficient supplies of food, paper products, and cleaning supplies so that, if we’re stuck in the house for a week or more, we will not only survive but thrive. She always does a great job of that, mostly because that’s what she learned at home. My father-in-law lived by the principle of "I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it." The basement of the building where we lived was always well-stocked with soap, toilet paper, paper towels, aluminum foil, dishwashing liquid, and other necessities. You might say that being prepared is what we do.

As to the issue that I think it’s overhyped, I think that’s a byproduct of the ever-increasing focus on the news, not only by the news networks (the CNN’s, the NBC twins [MS and C], the various Fox News networks, RT, Al Jazeera, and the local news networks like NY1 in New York and CLTV in the Chicago area, though I’m not sure it still exists, etc. ad nauseam) but by the old networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) which have discovered that news is a relatively cheap way to fill 168 hours a week, obviating the need to go out and spend millions of dollars on scripted television. Likewise, by spending 51 hours a week running news and news-like programming, local TV stations need spend less on the likes of Judge Judy, Divorce Court, Maury, Jerry Springer, Wendy Williams, reruns of Third Rock From The Sun, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, South Park, and The Cleveland Show.

With all that news programming going on, soon any possible thing that might happen becomes a major event. My friend Ben Minnotte, who runs The Oddity Archive on YouTube, recently did a video in which, during the first four minutes, he goes on a rant about how cable news networks label everything as "breaking news," even if it’s neither breaking nor news, most likely for the ratings. (It is, by the way, an excellent video.)

Notice that I haven’t even said a word about the Internet, social media, "dead tree" news (newspapers and magazines), or talk radio. Add those to the obsessive TV news, and pretty soon you want to climb under a rock and wait for the end of the world. Or, simply, tune it all out.

Remember, too, this isn’t the first time that we’ve had a virus that threatens to become an epidemic, or worse, a pandemic. This century alone, we’ve had SARS, the bird flu, H1N1, Ebola, HIV etc. etc. In each one of those cases, we were advised to do the following:

  1. Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently.
  2. Stay away from sick people.
  3. If you’re sick (e.g. coughing or sneezing), stay home until you aren’t. Even if you don’t have Coronavirus, you’re still sick and can make others sick.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough.
  5. Wipe down counters, cellphones, and anything you touch with disinfectant (Clorox or Lysol) frequently.
  6. Don’t touch your face with dirty hands.
  7. Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently.

It seems to me that these are things we should be doing anyway, whether or not there’s an impending pandemic. Sad that it takes a situation like this to remind us. Doing these things isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get sick, but they increase the chance that you won’t, which is the best you can hope for.

Mother Teresa said that if every person swept his own doorstep, the entire world would be clean. The people closest to you — your family, friends, neighbors, the people you work with, and the people you go to church with — are your doorstep. Tend to them. That’s more than enough for anyone.

27 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Covid-19

  1. It’s interesting, naturally I’m a very laid back type and I agree the media does overhype everything. I did not rush out and stock up on water bottles, but I definitely feel myself second-guessing that maybe this is more dangerous than I’m giving it credit. I hate the mass hysteria it has caused, but with so many cases in Washington it’s hard to ignore. I went ahead and stocked up a little like Mary and made sure we have flu medication on hand if needed. Other than just keeping things clean and following that list you wrote out, there really isn’t much else we can do. So if I get it, I get it…I’ll try not to spread it!

    Like

    1. TV news (at all levels) is delivered mostly by Chicken Littles who don’t understand that this isn’t the apocalypse, and while we should be prepared and stay up to date on the situation, all hell is not about to break loose. Stephen King tweeted out the other day that this isn’t “The Stand,” which I think was a good way to look at it. People will get sick and die, but that happens every flu season on a much grander scale than we’ve seen with this. Best you can do is wash your hands, stay away from sick people, and stay home and take care of yourself if you do get sick.

      Like

  2. The CDC has clearly said the virus “low risk for the US” and for even those medical professionals in contact with the care of such, still “relatively low.” More people have died of flu. The news media is all about ratings and talking about what they think people will tune in for.

    Like

    1. “If it bleeds, it leads,” right? Yes, some people will get ill, and some might die from it, but I can’t see where it’s any worse than the flu. We lose a couple thousand every year to the flu, and this doesn’t look as bad. News in the media has become entertainment, and not very good entertainment at that. You’re better off listening to the people who work with it all the time.

      Like

  3. I’m probably underconcerned, as I don’t do much to prevent infection now and was never all that hygiene-conscious to begin with. I live in a care facility with people with severe intellectual disabilities, most of whom aren’t hygiene-conscious at all. Guess I’m doomed. Then again, thanks for the reminder about proper disease-prvention strategies.

    Like

  4. I don’t take all that many measures to prevent disease or whatever. I do keep my hands clean and most of the stuff advised, but I really don’t concern myself with sickness like many have been doing. Most of this pandemic stuff is blown way out of proportion. The so-called news outlets are so filled with crap that they should probably call a plumber to open up the info flow they keep dumping on us.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Like

    1. You and I can remember a time when news on TV was limited to 15 minutes at noon and 6 (plus 15 minutes for national news at 6:15) and a half hour at 10 (or 11), maybe 15 minutes at signon and signoff, and on radio 5 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour. It left the major analysis and editorializing for the newspapers and magazines and Sunday morning TV. Now it’s wall-to-wall news, including the late-night talk shows. Who needs it? Tell me what I need to know, then shut up and I’ll take it from there.

      I saw a graphic the other day that showed all the “pandemics” in the 21st century. Like clockwork, every two years (election years, by the way), something like this happens and they give the same advice: wash your hands, disinfect your counters and handheld devices, and if you’re sick, stay home. Most of us will get through this unscathed, and most of those who get sick will heal with no dramatics. Babies and old people will be affected worse than healthy people. Honestly, the news networks have nothing better to do…

      Like

  5. I agree with you, John, and am just following typical avoidance methods. I feel for people who are at high risk and would be more anxious if I had a baby. But I’m not personally in those categories. I did make sure that we’re well stocked with basic foods and toilet paper…

    Like

    1. Exactly. Babies, old people, and people with compromised immune systems (and their loved ones) need to worry more than healthy people with good sanitation habits. And having plenty of food and toilet paper is critical, no matter what’s going on…

      Like

  6. I’m not overly concerned and I feel it is overhyped. With that said sometimes, in order to make a point, overhyping is needed. Washing hands etc. is stuff we should do all the time and not just when a virus comes around.

    Like

  7. I wipe down the grocery cart with antibacterial wipes…always do. I don’t want to shape people’s hands because you have no clue what they were doing before meeting yo with them. I think we need to take a step back and not panic so. My hubby is a sentry and we have a mini grocery store in our basement already. I think it will get worse in North America before it gets better but we need to not panic. Fear and panic creates so much chaos that it just isn’t good. We will not turn into zombies and we will not all die like the flu outbreak of 1918 or the plague from the middle ages

    Like

    1. Does your store provide the antibacterial wipes? I think that started with the H1N1 outbreak. I know the Eucharistic Ministers at church (lay people who help distribute communion) have used hand sanitizer before Communion since then, as have the priests and deacons, and that a lot of the hand-shaking and hand-holding at Mass has gone away. I don’t blame you for not wanting to shake people’s hands.

      I’m sure things will get worse before they get better. How much worse is the question. But panicking doesn’t make it any better.

      Like

  8. I need more “just in case” food to get through the length of time they’re expecting people to “self-isolate”. I suspect that by the time it gets to me, they will have given up on trying to contain it, though.

    Like

Comments are closed.