Current Events: Coronovirus

I wasn’t going to add to the noise around this, but then the other day someone posted “ok everyone, this isn’t the bubonic plague.” The historian came out.

So many ways I wanted to respond:

  • Yes, please don’t kill cats. Rats are the ones most likely causing the spread of the plague.
  • True. The bubonic plague had a mortality rate of almost 70%, even in the modern era it’s somewhere around 10% even with antibiotics, so 3.4% isn’t as bad!
  • Well except that bubonic plague is a bacteria and antibotics are kind of amazing and COVID-19 is a virus. Hence the family “coronoVIRUS”
  • As someone who doesn’t know whether I’m in the “80% will be fine” group or if my asthma will put me in the “20% vulnerable people” who will not be ok…. please take it seriously.

You see, that last one is the truth. With my asthma, I don’t know. I am compromised because my lungs are not 100% of normal (I run above 80% on most of my visits which is good but not great and NOT normal-human-being levels). With the flu it’s a crap shoot. I’ve had the “10-days-almost-hospitalized-terrified-I-get-how-this-kills” bout and I’ve had the “I have the sniffles and a little fever” level of flu.

I also am working under a “by the hour” contract rather than a job-with-benefits right now. So if I get sick, if I can’t work – I am not getting paid. That whole conversation happening right now about “if you get even the sniffles, please stay home” means I have to tap into savings to pay my bills. I HAVE savings, but it is a stress I am having to balance.

I don’t want to find out if I’m in the 20% group.

I don’t want to find out my parents are in the 20% group.

I don’t want any of my friends to find out they are int he 20% group (and I have friends who’s asthma is worse than mine so… yeah I don’t want them to find out).

I don’t want to find out any of my coworkers are in the 20% group.

Much less the 3% of people who will die.

The people who will die because we have no treatment for killing the virus (like antibiotics). We can only treat symtoms. The people who will need ventilators and breathing assistance. The people who will have a fever that kills brain cells.

I don’t want our doctors to face decisions the Italian doctors and nurses are having to make (Read this and weep)

Today, Italy has 10,149 cases of the coronavirus. There are now simply too many patients for each one of them to receive adequate care. Doctors and nurses are unable to tend to everybody. They lack machines to ventilate all those gasping for air.

And don’t imagine it isn’t possible in the US. We tend to run on “bare minimum necessary” medical equipment (a $3,000 breathing assistance machine or $3,000 to go to our stockholders…). We run on thin margins of nurses and doctors for coverage to maximize the profit each one brings a hospital. This means if a nurse is sick, it’s hard for the hospital to have enough nurses to even manage what they HAVE. I have a friend who’s a nurse and I’ve listened to her for years talk about the pressure to go into work because the other nurses will not get support/help. There is no backup.

We are NOT prepared for 1/100 people to need to be treated in a hospital at the same time (60million people in Italy, 10,000+ hospitalized cases… my math is probably off but it’s STILL overwhelming).

We can all do something pretty simple.

Avoid each other. Don’t touch each other. Don’t cough on each other. If you are sick (whether it’s COVID or not) STAY HOME. Don’t infect other people.