Gradually, over the last week, the reality about COVID-19 has seeped in. A week after I started a new job (I am a long-term substitute teacher at a local high school), school was closed, and instruction was switched to online. I was bummed out, because I actually really enjoyed working with the students and teaching again, as teaching is something I like to do, and I something I am good at. I guess this is a fast-track to learning online delivery. And really, in the grand scheme of things, I am okay. I have a job, and I can work from home. Others, such as restaurant owners or small business owners are not so lucky. And while I am doing what I can to support them (buying gift cards for myself, etc.) I am getting angry and impatient at why this has been laid at my and other consumers’ feet. Where are the leaders? Why can we bail out the damn stock market, but not give emergency money to small businesses and paid sick leave to workers?
COVID-19 has no nationality (no matter who calls it “the Chinese Virus”), it has crossed borders and oceans. And as much as we claim to be a global society, our response is not a common, global effort, but we fall back intro tribal behaviors. Britain talks about bulldog spirit, while other countries close their borders. In the absence of calm, collected leadership that makes decisions informed by science, local leaders have to step up. For what it’s worth, they are doing the best they can (THANK YOU KATE BROWN). But it creates so many uncertainties, that then lead to rumors and thanks to social media, to rumors on steroids. No, gargling with vinegar will not kill the virus, and no, it will not eat you up from the outside (both things I have overhead in conversation in the last two days). As a consequence, people become irrational- they buy toilet paper in bulk (for what??? Even I as Crohn’s patient can’t comprehend why), and on the other hand of the spectrum you have people going to church on Sunday, as if nothing could happen.
On another note, the coronavirus has brought to the forefront how broken our health system and by extension our social system really is. How can it be that a country, whose economy is doing so good (not right now, I know), worry about closing schools, because that means that food insecure children won’t get to eat? How can it be that paid sick leave is something an employer gets to decide on? All questions we shouldn’t forget when all of this is over. For now, I’d say hunker down, stay home, wash your hands, don’t touch your face.