Total solar eclipse
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

2019 Novel Coronavirus is Not an April Fool’s Day Joke, Unfortunately

First, let us start with the bad news: at least 36,571 people — or slightly greater than 4.84 percent — have died of the minimum of 754,948 confirmed cases in 202 countries and territories worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from the World Health Organization pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus at the time this article was written.

2019 Novel Coronavirus is Not an April Fool’s Day Joke, Unfortunately

Put another way, at least 36,571 people — or almost 0.000469 percent — have died of the estimated 7.8 billion people living on planet Earth right now.

Even one death is one death too many; and as long as the pandemic continues, millions of people around the world remain distanced from others while in either voluntary isolation or mandatory quarantine — and not many people are traveling, either.

As today is Wednesday, April 1, 2020 — which is April Fool’s Day — let us temporarily leave the bad news behind for a moment and take a lighter look at this pandemic by listening in on the conversation between a father and his son who are sitting outside on the front porch of their home.

“Dad…what’s a restaurant?”

“Son, a restaurant is a place where dozens people used to dine on meals together — usually in one open area.”

“Wow! Dozens of people were in the same room together?”

“Yes, son — often, they were much closer than six feet apart.”

“Ewwwwww! That’s disgusting! Didn’t they know how unhealthy that was?”

“That was nothing. Companies known as airlines used to cram people as close together as possible in metal tubes with wings known as airplanes.”

“Double ewwww!!!”

“In fact, some passengers had no choice but to touch each other, they were seated so close — and people who sat in something called a middle seat used to have a person on each side of them only inches apart. Some people even fought over who had rights to the limited space — such as armrests and legroom.”

“Were people forced to be in these airplanes, Dad?”

“They actually paid good money to be in these airplanes.”

“Why, Dad? That makes no sense to me.”

“Well, they used to fly from one place to another.”

“People could FLY?!?”

“Yes, Son — from one country to another.”

“Gee, Dad — I thought countries only existed online. I didn’t know that people once visited them. I have never even been beyond our front yard and backyard in my entire life.”

“That is to keep you safe from being infected by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV or or SARS-CoV-2 or whatever they are calling it these days. Being safe and healthy is of the utmost importance; and we need to remain that way at all costs.”

“Dad, what’s a traffic jam? Do they spread that on toast?”

“Traffic jams are from way back, Son,” the father replied. “Too many cars and trucks would be on the roads; and people would sit in their cars and take hours to get to where they wanted to go. To a restaurant, airport, or to go to work or school every day. They also caused a lot of pollution back then; but the air is much cleaner these days.”

“People used to go to work or school every day?!?” the son asked incredulously. “Not sit in the comfort of home and do school or work on their computers?!?”

Their conversation was interrupted by the latest news bulletin: the one trillionth case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus was confirmed on the same day that it has now impacted Jupiter with its first confirmed case, which is now the fourth planet in the solar system to be affected by what had become an interplanetary pandemic. “We are all in this together,” said the leaders of Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.

Scientists were surprised that some of the toughest materials on planet Earth would not survive on the hot and hostile environment of Venus — the average temperature of approximately 863 degrees Fahrenheit can melt lead — but the 2019 Novel Coronavirus had no problem infiltrating the atmosphere of that planet.

“I want to go to other countries some day,” said the son.

“That was once known as traveling,” the father replied. “But that is not possible as long as the shelter in place order remains in effect.”

“How long will it remain in effect?”

“I don’t know, Son. At first, it was 14 days. Then it became three weeks. Then a month. Then two months. Then three months…”

“That’s all, Dad?!?”

“Yes. Today, the shelter in place order is in effect until at least through Tuesday, April 29, 2138.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Mrs. Whitmire, who is an avid smoker and enjoys driving her vintage car: “Hey, you two! Quit congregating outside! Go back inside your house now!!!”

“Mrs. Whitmire, we are following the law. We are more than six feet apart, wearing our masks, gloves and goggles; and we’re constantly dousing our hands in liquid hand sanitizer.”

“That’s it. I’ve had it!” she responded belligerently, drawing incessantly on her cigarette as she was about to enter her car. “We are trying to save lives here! I am going to demand from our politicians that the entire planet should be under the strictest marshall law.”

“Don’t you mean martial law, Mrs. Whitmire?”

“Shut up!” she snapped. “I want anyone who even opens the door to their home to be shot and killed on sight, no questions asked. This way, they can’t die of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, and therefore the numbers of people who will have died from it will finally go lower. Flatten that curve, y’know.”

“Um…Mrs. Whitmire…you are out of your house now. Wouldn’t you have been shot on sight just now if the law you want went into effect?”

“The law won’t affect me,” she replied defiantly, coughing with puffs of cigarette smoke billowing out of her mouth as she drove away to the stock market to invest in ingredients for the base of her soup recipe. It was the only remaining stock market in the country.

At that moment, an announcement that the shelter in place order will be extended until further notice beyond the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to cover 16 other communicable and infectious diseases — including tuberculosis, influenza, and measles.

“Yes, Son,” the father lamented. “In addition to when parks were open to the public long ago, I remember the days when coronavirus meant that one would do anything to see a total eclipse of the sun.”

“What’s a park?” asked the son curiously.


Sure, the scenario you just read sounds ridiculous — but then, the scenario under which we live today in real life would have also been considered ridiculous a mere six months ago…

…more than ridiculous enough to be considered a horrible April Fool’s Day joke; and no one knows how many more people will die worldwide because of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — nor how much damage has already been inflicted upon the world economy, putting millions of people out of work and closing countless numbers of companies.

Happy April Fool’s Day.

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Instead of listing all of the other articles at The Gate which pertain to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, here is a list of a different kind of corona virus — those of the total solar eclipses of both 2017 in the United States and 2019 in Chile:

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