Essay: The War on Covid-19 Continues.

Apr 8, 2020

Covid 19 Map of Hot Spots in the United States
Credit creative commons

Welcome to the 14th week of WWIII's germ warfare.  Worldwide fatal casualties are marching toward the number of American deaths in Korea and Vietnam combined.  

By Steve Plotkin

Remember January 2020 when we started the decade with a hopeful bang?

But now we are in a different sort of place.

WAR

This is a peculiar war with no central command.

We are fighting on 50 battlefields, with 50 field commanders - governors, in charge of 50 fractured forces.  We are also fighting a quiet war of competition for resources among the 50.

No General would fight a war this way, having 50 isolatedcommands, and a nebulous central headquarters.   Not since the Civil War have states been so at odds with each other, and we do not have a Lincoln to settle scores.

MISERY

"The Only Thing We Have to Fear, Is Fear Itself" said FDR at his first inauguration.  Yet today the news is grave, even to the extent of officially proclaiming a few more weeks of misery and despair.  WHO raised its mortality figure from 2% to 3.4% of known cases.

It is interesting that the most trusted man in Washington is an obscure 79-year old Brooklyn native, non-politician, immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.  His cautious candor, as the top expert on infectious diseases, is a lifesaver in an arena of self-serving distrust and misleading claims.   How come he hasn't been fired?

With workplaces shut down, our previously robust economic outlook has dissipated.  

And it will be the virus, not economic forces, that determine when recovery begins for real, and when or if our lives will get back to normal. 

What the recovery will look like, or how long it will take, is unknown.  There is talk of an 80% economy, when this is over.  And some optimists see a quick, V-shaped recovery as the infections finally peter out.

After weeks of denial, we are led to believe that if we act diligently, we can perhaps make the anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2020, the day America declares victory over the coronavirus.

EVENTS

Between 25 to 50% of people with COVID-19 , may not actually show symptoms, and yet they are the unknowing asymptomatic spreaders.  Now the CDC says we all should wear masks, mostly to protect us from each other.

With everything closed, a wealth of virtual events has emerged.   The widest range of colleges, nonprofits, religions, business, associations, all feel the need to keep moving forward, and are doing so with scheduled teleconferences..  The word Zoom has reached stellar prominence.

More attention is now paid to community emotional well being.

Coping with the sports drought, or the vanished restaurants leads to stress.  Stress is natural, so channel your anxiety and adopt a "stress-is-enhancing" mind-set.

Some recommend that people in isolation in their homes stay mentally and physically healthy by sticking to their regular routines, attend to basic needs, exercise and importantly, stay in regular direct contact with friends and family.

SOME TOUGH DECISIONS

There is a tradeoff between sustained public health and economic survival!

What is it worth to restore a booming economy?   Is it worth the death of over a quarter million citizens?

This revolves around having business and commerce open prematurely, thereby causing further unchecked spread of the coronavirus.

Or keeping 330 million Americans home-bound POWs in their digital prisons, and slow the infections?

Simply put, is the cure worse than the problem? 

The view of Texas Gov. Patrick is that many seniors would "take a chance" on Covid if it could save the economy for their children.  I don't know about that!

While a back-breaking economic calamity cannot be avoided, and the cure is bad, my take is that the disease is a far worse problem, if left unchecked. 

I think a middle ground will be struck, based on an optimistic view, that sees a quick, V-shaped recovery as the infections peter out.

GOOD NEWS

There is some Good News, Dorothy!

The infections curve for South Korea and China has seemingly topped off and is heading down as hoped.  Also, in Italy.

China has CLOSED all 16 temporary coronavirus hospitals in Wuhan due to lack of patients.   Apple has reopened all 42 stores in China.

Worldwide research dollars are freely floating here and abroad, and advances are being made with multiple potential antiviral medications and vaccines.

On the Covid testing front, the future looks far brighter than a week ago, with an assortment of new quick tests now coming to market.

What is the endgame?  

Perhaps herd immunity will prevail, which requires some 60% of the population to be infected and thereby personally develop an acquired immunity.

Or hopefully, a simple inoculation added to the standard lineup, or an added ingredient to the annual flu shots, will provide immunity.

After being cooped up with me for a few weeks, my wife has recalibrated the recommended social distancing from 6 feet to 2-miles.

This is Steve Plotkin in isolation.