So, a few thought on this coronavirus pandemic.
Things are getting real and getting out of hand. (What’s with the toilet paper hoarding, people?) My temporary part-time gig has us all working from home for the foreseeable future. The Houseguest is still going into work, but she doesn’t know how much longer that will last and is worried about being laid off. One of my biggest freelance gigs is not sure what’s going to happen because its business model is about meeting clients face-to-face. If it can’t conduct business as normal, there may be furloughs or layoffs. These conversations are going on all over the country and some businesses are already acting, causing ripples throughout the economy. Prepare for economic disruption. If we’re lucky, the economic pain from taking aggressive measures against COVID19 will be short-term and well worth it because if we don’t flatten out the infection curve, the economic disruption could be deeper and last a lot longer. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned senators that if we fail to act with an economic stimulus plan and don’t get a handle on the situation, we may be looking at 20% unemployment.
People are finally starting to take the warnings and advice more seriously (like social distancing), though not everyone is, and that’s the problem.
Why is the coronavirus such a big deal?
I know some people still think this is an overreaction since the vast majority of people suffer only mild to moderate symptoms. It’s like the flu, right? No, it’s not. The human population has some herd protection from the flu due to immunity from vaccination and the fact that the flu is a human virus — our immune system has developed some resistance to it over the generations. Even still, 34,200 Americans died from the flu last year. Vulnerable people with weak immune systems rely on that herd immunity for protection. There is no immunity to COVID19 — it is an animal virus that has crossed over into the human population. Seven-and-a-half billion people could theoretically catch it. What naysayers are not taking into account is how severe cases will affect our healthcare system. True, they are only a small fraction of the total cases, but if the total cases suddenly soars into the millions, everything scales up. Suddenly, you’ve got an acute shortage of critical care beds and ventilators. At that point, the system will be under siege. Doctors won’t be able to treat everyone and will have to decide who lives and who dies based on available ventilators and other criteria–does a young person get it over an octogenarian? This is what is happening in Northern Italy right now. There are going to be a lot of Italian healthcare workers living with PTSD after watching lots of people dying, gasping for breath because the medical staff can’t care for them.
The pressure on the healthcare system will also affect other people who need care, say someone who goes into anaphylactic shock or is in a serious accident, but suddenly treatment isn’t immediately available. It could be bad. That why experts say we need to flatten the infection curve. It’s better to battle 20 million cases over 18 months rather than get swamped by 90 million in three months.
That’s why we need to get this under control before it explodes — though we may have got on the problem a bit late.
On the Home Front
So far, in the Manatee household, the only thing I’ve had to worry about is possibly losing my job, the bare shelves at the store, and the Houseguest being convinced she can’t breathe. (She’s fine. Of course, I hadn’t heard her rustling in her room, so I just went to make sure she hadn’t expired as I would have felt really bad for mocking her. There was proof of life — her annoyed response at being woken up by me rapping lightly on her door).
As my old college buddy, Clay, told me today, “Sean, you’ve been training for this your whole life. Your reclusive ways are paying dividends.”
And he’s right. Sitting around the house for days at a time avoiding contact with people ain’t shit to me. Call that a regular week.
My main concern is managing my stock of toilet paper. The big danger to it is the Houseguest. To say she uses a lot is an understatement. The Amazon Forest weeps. The Ent tree people out of the Lord of the Rings would not consider her a Tree Friend. She claims that women just need more toilet paper.
Share and share alike — except for that…
As roomies, we share certain things like detergent, cleaning supplies, milk, and bread. I draw the line at toilet paper, however, as she powers through it, so I don’t think sharing would be equitable economically. She’s also terrible at managing her reserve stock and runs out, which would mean that we’d both run out. So, I have my own stash that I keep hidden so she doesn’t plunder my precious reserves. (The Houseguest’s boyfriend is quietly on my side on this one — at one point, he had two female roommates who constantly raided his TP stash, and once he got caught with zero toilet paper at a very inopportune moment).
I’ve been in a tight spot when it comes to scarce toilet paper, so I’m not afraid of the consequences of running out. Everyone around me should be — but since we’re all quarantined, I guess it doesn’t matter.
I have thought for some time about adapting my toilet seats to serve as bidets, which are actually way more hygienic than smearing fecal matter around your ass with a piece of tissue paper. You can get basic ones or fancy ones that pamper you by gently washing your ass with warm water and then drying it with warm air. Sounds awesome. Deal me in.
The other day, I read an answer on Quora about answering a question about why bidets never caught on in the U.S. The respondent said that U.S. troops in France during WWI associated bidets with whore houses, and, conservative Americans were having none of that harlotry introduced into American life. Damn up-tight people always holding society back.
Till next time
Anyway, that’s all I have to say today (two blog posts in two days! I’m back, baby!). Everyone, make the best of this situation because Mother Nature has made us all a giant shit sandwich, and we’ve all gotta take a bite, but we’ll get through it. Hopefully, we learn something along the way, like cooperation and caring for one another as members of society. But we’ll see.