the virus is coming, look busy

Sometimes historical events unfold like pages of a story that you must read carefully to comprehend. This point in world history is like ripping off the scab with the band-aid and forcing us to look mercilessly at the ugly, bloody wound.

The fish-in-laws are in the virus’ most deadly demographic, and they are quite nervous about it. They were still working, but as of Monday my wife convinced them it was not worth the risk for the small amount of money they earn. Unfortunately they have nothing to do but sit and watch the endless news cycle. My wife can’t go inside their house for fear of bringing them the virus; we are doing shopping for them and dropping the groceries at the door, and talking from an appropriately safe distance.

I think about what might happen if one of them were to get severely sick from the virus and need to go in the hospital. They would be confined to their hospital bed, alone except for medical staff, no family or friends for consolation, intubated and breathing through a ventilator, gasping for that last little bit of oxygen until the end. What a horrible thought, for both the patient and the family members who can do nothing but mourn from their homes.

I know this tragedy is playing out in Italy and Spain right now, where there is no respite for the older folks who live in fear of dying alone, and for the medical workers who have to harden themselves and deal with the toll on their own mental health much later. That tragedy is coming here in the next few weeks, whether or not people choose to believe it. If we can truly “flatten the curve” without destroying the country in doing so remains to be seen.

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