Thursday, March 12, 2020

Some thoughts on the pandemic and panic

1. Fear and anxiety work on a bell curve. Up to a point, you're more and more likely to take action. Above that point, you're less and less likely to do so. It's good to ride the peak of that wave without going over.
2. This is going to last longer than you think it will. For the US, the pandemic clock started ticking on or around March 1st. We're currently in Week 2. If we're lucky, we have about 10 weeks to go for the peak of this. Do the things that you are able to sustain for 10+ weeks.
3. Those safety measures need to be done at a hygienic level. You don't have to go off-grid or live in a biocontainment suit. You need to wash your hands as well and as often as you should have been doing all along (but who does that in normal times, really?), stop going to public events, and live quietly at home for a while.
4. If you're under the age of 50, are not a healthcare worker, and are not immunocompromised, there's little threat to your life individually, nor to the lives of your children. Even if you are in one of the three high-risk groups above, you are more likely than not to survive coronavirus.
5. There is, however, an enormous threat to the lives of the surrounding community. It's not an epidemic they'll be talking about in 1000 years, like the Black Plague, which killed 1/3rd of Europe, but it's like the 1918 flu, which killed 2% and which we're still talking about 100 years later. Do not fool around.
6. The disease is enormously contagious, and is most contagious before symptoms hit. This is what makes it a systemic or community risk, rather than an idiosyncratic or individualized risk.
7. We're going to get through this one way or another. We will get through it best if we can all be rational and thoughtful about our neighbors and our community (oh no).
8. A mediocre effort sustained for 10 weeks beats a maximum effort of 1 week followed by 9 weeks of neglect. Individually mediocre efforts coupled with an excellent national and community effort will see us through.
BONUS: This is going to happen again, sooner rather than later, so maybe give Medicare for All or another universal health care program a bit of a push through Congress, so we're better prepared next time.

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