Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Corona — hold the lime
Everywhere I go, every conversation seems to turn to the fears, fables and fatalist theories surrounding COVID-19. Just to be clear, I am not a doctor! Nothing stated here should be construed as anything but my personal opinion, but when it comes to Corona, I say, “hold the lime.” This is not an original thought, but rather the first joke I heard about the virus. “Question: What goes well with the Coronavirus? Answer: Lyme Disease.” Not funny. I know. Still, I am always impressed by the folks who quickly concoct these timely quips.
My first tendency is to look for the humor in any situation, but this virus — or at least the hype around the virus — is making it difficult to keep the conversation light. All around me, plans are being cancelled, store shelves are being emptied and paranoia is mounting. I overheard a clerk at a local grocery store tell a customer he is terrified. Terrified! It gave me pause. Is it possible I am under-reacting?
Or is it that I have heard the cry of wolf one time too many over the last couple of decades of doomsday warnings of the next disease that will end humanity. Ebola, Zika, Avian, MERS, SARS, West Nile, Legionnaires, Cholera and the plague – for as long as I can recall, something “out there” was going to get us, and I think the world is fatigued.
I understand for those who have suffered from any life threatening illness, taking precautions is prudent, but I am among those of the mindset that this virus will run a seasonal course, a treatment will be developed and the majority of the population will live on to await the next scourge.
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Part of my bravado comes from knowing I am a healthy individual with a strong resistance to disease. I credit my upbringing with giving me a hearty helping of antibodies. As a youngster, I played in the dirt, lived in less than austere conditions and traded germs with my siblings, neighbors and classmates. As a friend put it so succinctly, “We grew up chewing other people’s gum.” Of course we have a hearty immune system!
My mother did not have any time for sick kids! I am the youngest of seven. In my house, there had better be an open wound or projectile vomiting if you planned to stay home from school. She was working hard to keep a roof over our heads and had little time for anything but the most serious maladies. I remember many, many days of “not feeling great” that ended with me in the nurse’s office, only to return to school the following day. I exposed anyone in my wake to whatever germs were wreaking havoc on my immune system. We all moved on.
Several years ago, while working on a news story, I spoke with a physician discussing a new strain of flu. He was very matter of fact. It originated in the East and while some people would become ill, most would, once exposed, simply develop a natural immunity to it. The majority of those would not show any symptoms. It would eventually make its way across the country with the same result. New strains, new immunities, new vaccines for those more susceptible to the illness, and so it goes.
That is why I am simply waiting for the same thing to happen with this influenza. While it is travelling at a quick pace across the world, we must remember that we, as a society, are also moving globally. It is not one ship travelling weeks from Europe to a U.S. port. It is thousands of flights and fleets connecting us to all parts of the globe on a daily basis. Of course, a highly contagious disease is going to find its way in. We will, likely, all be exposed to this virus. Many will not even know it. Others will become terribly ill. Some will die.
While it is obviously different from the flu that has become commonplace, it is important to keep some perspective. According to the Center for Disease Control website, that not so newsy flu has resulted in (on the low side) 350,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths in the United States since October of last year. Annually, thousands of people die from the flu. It has become so commonplace, it barely makes a headline.
I have heard comments comparing COVID-19 to the Spanish flu of 1918. We are certainly more scientifically prepared today then we were over 100 years ago. And scientifically, we have come a long, long way. In 1918, doctors did not know a virus was the cause of influenza. So, we have that going for us. And, spring is just around the corner!
In the interim, my own recreation is falling victim to the hysteria as a planned hiatus to Mexico is on pause. As I watch events cancelled, crowd sizes limited and livelihoods decimated, I would just like to give a shout out to common sense and encourage people to keep their wits. Of course, if you are at risk or compromised, take precautions, but let us all get a grip!
I, for one, am not willing to stop living to keep from dying. Flu or no flu, I will continue to gather, socialize and enjoy new experiences. Succinctly put: Keep calm and have a Corona –hold the lime!
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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