Harlow and I were on our 5 o’clock walk this evening and the temps lingered above 55 degrees, which for Chicago in March is rather pleasant. Dare I even say balmy? The sun was nowhere to be found, but we Chicagoans have gotten used to such a thing in 2020. On a normal Thursday like this, especially the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, the patios would have been packed, but today did not feel normal.
And I never knew how much I appreciated a “normal day” until it started to feel like they were slipping away.
I saw hoards of people coming from the city Target on Division, packs of toilet paper under one arm, water and Gatorade in the other. Unlike the usual 5 o’clock rush down Division, no one was really stopping for a drink or lounging on a bench outside of a coffee shop, most seemed to be heading straight home. Just 48 hours ago it wasn’t like this, the energy in the city felt entirely different.
Or am I imagining it? It couldn’t have changed this fast. Could it?
Three days ago I went grocery shopping and the only thing missing from the shelves was hand sanitizer. The casual shoppers at Target that afternoon, myself included, shot each other sly looks that seemed to say, “guess the over achievers got here first,”and we moseyed down another aisle. Easier to silently judge the people who were more prepared, than to judge ourselves.
When I went to the store last night it was a different story. Entire food shelves were empty. There wasn’t a chicken breast to be found in the entire store. Another woman and I stood on an empty shelf to grab the last two jugs of water.
Why the jugs of water? The toilet paper? The packets of ready rice (which were all gone, by the way.) Because from what I’ve heard, we may all be asked to stay in our homes very soon. For how long? Well from what I understand that might be up to us and how we choose to react to all of this right now.
A week ago I would have said NO WAY. I would have screamed BUT THE FLU! It kills more people!!! This is insane, it’s not even that bad! Everyone is overreacting! What’s the big deal??? Did I mention the flu??
All those things you might be thinking, I thought too. But then more and more I started to see posts from people in the medical field, doctors and nurses from all over, begging people to take this seriously. And I slowly realized it’s not just about the death rates, but the overwhelming effect COVID 19 poses to our hospitals and medical workers.
Yes, the majority of people who get this virus will only have mild symptoms. But the number of people who could be infected is so vast that there will still be a large amount who will experience more serious symptoms and will need to be hospitalized. And if all of the rooms, beds, respirators, and medical staff in general have been exhausted by people who have been infected, what happens if someone comes in who’s had a heart attack? Or been in a car accident? Or … the flu? Which we all know by now kills thousands of people every year. And the flu even has a vaccine. COVID 19 does not.
I consider myself a healthy person. Although my medical past does include H1N1, Shingles, Influenza A, etc… so I guess everyone is healthy until they aren’t. But just because I’m not in the “most at risk” category, doesn’t mean I won’t come into contact with someone who isn’t. And from what I’ve heard from medical experts, COVID 19 spreads much much faster than the flu.
So… so I guess what I’m saying is I get it now. I get why sports are being cancelled. I understand why the St. Patrick’s Day parades aren’t happening. Why the CDC is telling people to practice “social distancing.” Because maybe just maybe this our last chance to attempt to stay ahead of it, to avoid what Italy is going through now, where people are actually forbidden to leave their homes unless they have a permission slip…
That could never happen here though, right? I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that’s exactly what people in Italy said a few weeks ago, as well.
I know some people still think this is all “media lies” and “fear mongering,” and whatever else you want to believe. But what if… now go with me here, what if it’s not? What if all of the statements made by doctors and nurses and scientists around the world to take this virus serious are actually true? What if the virus could mutate like several doctors have said it has potential to do, making it even worse than it already is?
And what if we could do something about it now to prevent the spread from getting worse? No, I’m not suggesting panicking or buying every piece of toilet paper and canned good you can find, or staying in one room and never leaving your house again. But maybe just taking a little extra time to prepare to stay in your home for longer periods of time than normal, to stay away from large gatherings, to follow the guidelines set by the CDC. Yes, our normal lives will be disrupted, yes money will be lost, times will be tough for a while, but what if for the most part we’ll be able to save more lives because of it? Wouldn’t that be worth it?
I have to think it would be. I’m not claiming to be an expert, or a doctor, I’m just another internet lurker like you. And I happen to believe (and hope) that doing something about it now is better than waiting. We gotta flatten that curve.
(Just to reiterate, I’m not suggesting panic.) Today has been stressful, tomorrow will probably be too. So take a breath and do what you can to stay healthy. And remember, this too shall pass.