Imagine a world where no one plays sports. No one dines out at restaurants. No one travels. No one is allowed to leave his or her home. Streets are desolate. Companies have shut down. Some businesses no longer exist. Whole cities, states, and entire countries are locked down. Deployment of military personnel and equipment gives the impression of a state under martial law. The entire planet stands still, waiting, hungry for information, and fighting a war which seems hopeless with an uncertain future.
Have We Become a Society of Wimps Addicted to Drama?
My voice may not exactly emulate the late Don LaFontaine very well; but you do not need to travel or watch a substandard Hollywood movie to imagine this dreary world. All you have to do is look out the windows of your home. Perhaps the idyllic serenity of a suburban neighborhood is obscuring the reality of a horror being played out all over the world; or a desolate commercial district — which is normally bustling with crowds of people — obviously reveals the dystopian nature of the unthinkable.
No one would have thought at this time last year — or as late as even the past few weeks — that the world would get to a point where practically everything has shut down and millions of people are either isolating themselves or are quarantined to help prevent the spread of a virus…
…but that is exactly what has happened. Whole populations are currently isolated from the rest of the world — save for the technology which is available to us. People are still hoarding toilet paper and other items for themselves — including medical supplies and food — as they stockpile for some sort of Armageddon.
With events which occurred during the 21st century — such as the attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001; the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009; the swine flu in 2009, the Ebola virus in 2014, and the Zika virus in 2016 epidemic as a few of a number of examples — people seemed surprisingly eager to easily relinquish some of the same civil liberties that members of the military fought so valiantly over the decades to protect; and all in the name of safety.
Anything in the name of safety seems to be the slogan for society these days…
…and now we face an enemy so small, a microscope is needed just to see it. So far, this enemy called 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV — has resulted in the human race wreaking havoc among itself to the point where multiple types of disasters are being created which will not only last for years before they are corrected and resolved; but some of the changes may very well become permanent.
If you think I am exaggerating about those impending disasters, think about people who are unable to earn a living because they were furloughed for an indefinite period of time and have no savings as a safety net. Think about all of the supplies which have been hoarded that some of the people who really need them cannot find them to purchase anywhere. Think about people who are medically in need and may have to succumb to an illness because the help they require to survive becomes unavailable.
For many of those aforementioned people, survival becomes a more substantial challenge — perhaps even a matter of life and death — but no one seems to be listening.
Then — and Now
I read this article titled Say Your Prayers and Take Your Chances — Remembering the 1957 Asian flu pandemic by Clark Whelton, which was brought to my attention and forwarded to me. The following is an excerpt from the aforementioned article, in which the author claims that he is ready for whatever comes…
Except, I’m not ready. In fact, even at my advanced 80-something age, I find the whole COVID-19 panic to be strange and troubling. I’ve lived through epidemics before, but they didn’t crash the stock market, wreck a booming economy, and shut down international travel. They didn’t stop the St. Patrick’s Day parade or the NCAA basketball tournament, and they didn’t drop the curtain on Broadway shows. Will these extreme measures have any real effect on the spread of COVID-19 in New York, or America? We’re about to find out.
My first encounter with a global pandemic came in October 1957, when I spent a week in my college infirmary with a case of the H2N2 virus, known at the time by the politically incorrect name of ‘Asian flu.’ My fever spiked to 105, and I was sicker than I’d ever been. The infirmary quickly filled with other cases, though some ailing students toughed it out in their dorm rooms with aspirin and orange juice. The college itself did not close, and the surrounding town did not impose restrictions on public gatherings. The day that I was discharged from the infirmary, I played in an intercollegiate soccer game, which drew a big crowd.
It’s not that Asian flu — the second influenza pandemic of the twentieth century — wasn’t a serious disease. Worldwide, this flu strain killed somewhere between 1 and 2 million people. More than 100,000 died in the U.S. alone. And yet, to the best of my knowledge, governors did not call out the National Guard, and political panic-mongers did not blame it all on President Eisenhower. College sports events were not cancelled, planes and trains continued to run, and Americans did not regard one another with fear and suspicion, touching elbows instead of hands. We took the Asian flu in stride. We said our prayers and took our chances.
To be fair, living in the year 1957 — I was not even a thought back then, as that was before my time — was notably different from living in the year 2020.
Social media in 1957 was limited to learning the news of the world through much slower methods — such as newspapers, news reel shorts prior to feature films in movie theaters, radio, and the nascent medium known as television — and basically disseminated by people who were known as journalists and reporters. The news could sweep across the country and around the world only so fast.
Fast forward to the year 2020, and anyone can spread information — or misinformation — with the greatest of ease through a variety of methods of social media: a $500.00 portable electronic device which can fit in a pocket and a way to connect to the Internet creates an incredibly accessible ease of entry for just about anyone. Furthermore, technology gives license for people to blur the line between reality and fiction with the use of image manipulation software and video manipulation software. Influencers — what an ironic similarity in pronunciation to the word influenza — and corporate marketing machines tend to dominate and manipulate what people want with just about any product or service.
In other words, anyone in 2020 who wants to be heard can simply do so at little more than a click of the button — and with an audience worldwide.
I am still waiting for the day when more and more people start looking at this pandemic from a saner and more realistic point of view. Yes, more people will be infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus within the foreseeable future — regardless of the efforts of everyone, as I believe that the train already left the station. More people will become ill. And yes, more people will die from 2019 Novel Coronavirus. In fact, all of this has already happened from the time you started to read this article until now…
…but I still do not believe that warrants what is more and more becoming every day a literal shutdown of much of the entire planet. I state some of my reasons in this article in which I pointed out that as many as 46,000 people are estimated to have already died from influenza within four months in the United States alone — and that is from as many as 45 million people estimated to have been infected with just that one type of virus. Should we have shut down the planet then, too?
At the time this article was written, at least 9,840 people — or slightly greater than 4.2 percent — have died of the minimum of 234,073 confirmed cases in 176 countries and territories worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from the World Health Organization pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. I would like to see a similar dashboard highlighting statistics pertaining to influenza or tuberculosis or measles or rabies or 12 other infectious diseases from which more people are dying on average every day, as I am certain that they would be more shocking — especially as treatments and cures are currently available for a number of those infectious diseases — but I suppose no one would be interested in that, as the disease du jour is caused by the infection of 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
I am not espousing apathy or indifference — nor am I encouraging anyone to engage in irresponsible actions. I am merely imparting facts and offering an opinion based on information which has been gleaned from some of the most reliable sources available…
…and I am simply attempting to inject some realistic discussion — but with the panic which has already ensued worldwide that has thrown us into a maelstrom of ridiculousness, the time to interject a reasoned voice has likely already passed anyway.
I am completely convinced of one thing: what has currently enveloped our planet could have been avoided so easily.
Other Articles on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus at The Gate
This article is the latest in a series pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in an effort to get the facts out with information derived from reliable sources — as well as attempt to maintain a reasoned and sensible ongoing discussion towards how to resolve this pandemic.
Other articles at The Gate which pertain to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus include:
- Four Overused Terms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Era
- Several Rental Car Companies Waive Young Adult Fees Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- National Park Service Suspends All Entrance Fees Due To Coronavirus Pandemic
- Passport Services Delayed Beyond 8 Weeks; Expedited Passport Services Suspended Indefinitely
- Global Level 4 Health Advisory Issued by Department of State of the United States
- What is Wrong With This Photograph? Part 30: Coronavirus Edition
- Countries With Travel Entry Restrictions Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus: An Updated Comprehensive List
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus: Should You Travel Within the United States?
- $250 Billion Bailout Requested by Lodging Companies
- Countries With Travel Entry Restrictions Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus: A Comprehensive List
- $50 Billion Bailout Requested by Airlines; Trump to “Back the Airlines 100%”
- Global Level 3 Health Advisory Issued by Department of State of the United States
- All Domestic Travel Banned For Personnel of Department of Defense of the United States
- March 15 2020: Checking Back In on 2019 Novel Coronavirus — My Opinions, If Anyone Cares
- Hotel Deploys Robots to Sanitize and Disinfect Rooms
- Ireland and the United Kingdom Added to Suspension for Most Foreign Nationals For 30 Days From Europe to the United States
- Change Fee and Cancellation Fee Policies and Waivers of 46 Airlines Due To 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Up to 12 Ounces of Hand Sanitizer is Permitted Through Airport Security Checkpoints
- I Swear, If I Receive One More Message About How My Health and Safety are Their Top Priority…
- Four Reliable Resources For Travel and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Just Shut Down the Entire Planet. Problem Solved?
- Stop the Hyperbole: Travel is NOT Banned Between the United States and Europe…
- Travel From Europe to the United States Suspended for Most Foreign Nationals For 30 Days
- My Unproven Secret to Not Contracting a Virus in Years
- Pandemic of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Declared by World Health Organization
- Official Warning Issued Against Travel by Cruise Ship Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus by the Department of State of the United States
- Now the Entire Country of Italy is Under Quarantine
- 16 Million People Quarantined in Northern Italy
- Are Masks Effective Against 2019 Novel Coronavirus That People are Stealing Them?
- As Many as 46,000 People May Have Died in the United States Alone From…
- Lodging Companies Issue Travel Waivers and Elite Status Extensions 2020 Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Update: More Airlines Suspended Change and Cancellation Fees 2020 Due To Coronavirus
- Airlines Which Suspended Change and Cancellation Fees 2020 Due To Coronavirus
- Should You Be Concerned About Coronavirus?
- Travel Alert February 2020: Italy Now Affected by 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Travel Alert February 2020: Northern Italy Now Affected by 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Travel Alert February 2020: South Korea Now Affected by 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- A Deal to Antarctica Because of 2019 Novel Coronavirus — But Hurry
- Update: Do Not Travel to China Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Says United States Department of State
- Travel Alert January 2020: Hong Kong Now Affected by 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Update January 2020: Additional Airlines Issue Travel Waivers for 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Travel Alert January 2020: 2019 Novel Coronavirus Affecting Air Travel
So…have we become a society of wimps who are addicted to drama? I encourage you to read the remainder of that aforementioned article to help you reach your own conclusion; and I further encourage you to please opine constructively in the Comments section below…
…but I have been avoiding reading and watching the news in general, as much of what is reported in the media is sadly little more than yellow journalism and sensationalism — and purposely designed to draw more readers and viewers for revenue purposes than a story based on purely factual information. I will say that I am very disappointed in the overall performance of the media and leadership around the world in general — both of whom I hold responsible in contributing to the unnecessary drama which has led to panic as though we were in a doomsday situation, which we are not.
I have plenty more to say with regard to this 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — which I intend to write in future articles — but please allow me to conclude this article with this statement: although things will get worse before they get better, things will get better.
I repeat: things WILL get better.
All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.