The Morning After the Night Before

I woke up the same way I went to bed: thinking about COVID-19. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

“It can’t happen here” has been on a loop in my head since I got up. Not because I think this is true, but because America has suffered from this mentality since the Mayflower took up residence at Plymouth Rock. 

This “new” land will be a better place because we have religious freedom, was the apparent idea. Except for those nasty natives and Roger Williams and his weirdo ideas and the women accused of witchcraft in Salem and on and on. But that’s different from England because we’re doing it with the best of intentions. The stuff that happened in old England can’t happen here.

Rounding up people of different cultural backgrounds and putting them in pens. Making them live in terrible conditions. Separating families. That happened someplace else. Sure, it’s also happening here, but it’s on our terms, and there are good intentions behind it. What took place in Germany can’t happen here.

Another nasty virus. But it’s in another country far away. It’s being managed poorly, and even though it’s spreading, it’s only spreading because those other countries aren’t prepared. We’re ready. Probably. It can’t happen here.

Anyway, there’s that.

The other thing on my mind right now is the COVID-19-adjacent stuff. The data shows that I have a fairly low risk of infection and an even lower risk of dying from infection. I’m middle-aged. People younger than me have even lower risks of infection and death. Great. But what about those older than me? It’s not as promising a situation for them.

A lot of what I’m seeing online right now is accusations of unnecessary hand-wringing over a problem most people won’t have to deal with. The deep flaw in that thinking is that people of all ages can carry COVID-19 and pass it on to others who have compromised immune systems and/or are in the older demographics.

One of the lessons here is that COVID-19 spreads through the same method as many of our social ills. It spreads through privilege. 

“I’m not at much or any risk here, so why should I change my way of life?”

Because we live in a big, messy world, and our actions impact others. I’m super sorry you’ll miss the big basketball game or need to rearrange wedding plans or put off that big vacation, but guess what? Things are tough all over. 

I don’t have any major immediate plans, but I’m still scares as fuck that if I visit my parents – one of whom has a very compromised immune system – I’ll pass something on. So I’m second guessing a lot of things right now.

So there’s also that. One last thing before I go, and I’m almost out of my 15 minutes.

People are really leaning into the idea that all of this COVID-19 stuff is fear-based. And yeah, there’s definitely some of that. But even if that’s the case, why is a virus the line in the sand? American culture thrives on fear. Fear of people with different skin colors. Fear of different religions. Fear that “they” are gonna come and take my guns. 

So why is it that when we’re called on to take extra precautions (many of them basic things we should be doing already) that will protect the health of ourselves and our neighbors, why is this the thing that goes too far?

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