Covid-19 News Issue 2
Covid-19 News Day 2
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Darryl’s Note: This is the second issue of Covid-19 News. You may be wondering why, as of this date, Fanshawe College hasn’t published plans for the Summer semester. We’ve been in touch with the administration and they are working to come up with plans that they won’t need to alter several times later. And that is the right way to proceed. We need to be patient while they sort out the details. Maybe by the end of this week there will be a communication to faculty.
COVID-19 Fatality in London, Ontario
Yesterday, Chris Mackie, Chief Medical Officer of the London Middlesex Health Unit, acknowledged the first death from COVID-19 in our area. It is likely to be the first of many. How many is anyone’s guess. Our first regional COVID case was recorded on January 31, and we now have (as of March 29) a total of 31 cases. There are likely many more active cases in the community. How many more is, again, anyone’s guess. Our rate of increase has not been especially dramatic relative to other jurisdictions, but the health experts are telling us the next few weeks will be crucial for showing us where we really stand in terms of community spread.
How do you approach this new world we’re in? Do you look at it or away from it? I used to regularly monitor the Johns Hopkins COVID Dashboard that shows progression of worldwide cases, but it has such a forbidding look, and the climbing toll each day is so ominous, I gave it up. It’s just too much doom, or the look of doom, to absorb every day. I have loads of work to do these days anyway with my online classes, so I manage to stay distracted much of the time.
Masks: Useful or Useless?
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the advisability of wearing a mask (if you have one). Some say it’s pointless, but that seems doubtful. The governments of South Korea and Singapore recommend masks and even provide them, and South Korea and Singapore seem to know what they’re doing. The truth is masks are most important and effective for health care workers and the ill, so in the event of any shortage, they should be reserved for them. That’s what’s happening in North America. We don’t have enough, so we want to discourage folks from buying up whatever may be available so we’ll have enough for those who most need them. Makes sense, but if you already own one, and one of the better ones, it makes sense to wear it. In WWII, the Ford Motor Company turned out a B32 Bomber plane every 63 minutes at its Willow Run plant. Surely, we can make masks once we get on it. Meanwhile, if you own one or more, you might reasonably use one, but if not, don’t try to buy up or hoard them.
Massive Risk Differential
You have probably heard something (or a lot) about the concept of “massive risk differential.” This simply means that the data so far suggest that younger people, people 35 and younger especially, are at very low risk of developing serious illness if they contract COVID-19. So far, COVID-19 is mostly sickening and killing the elderly and infirm, not always, but usually. The biggest danger of younger people contacting COVID-19 is the probability of their acting as vectors spreading the disease to the more vulnerable (like me, relatively).
How do you feel about that? Some say emphasizing the fact of differential risk is a form of ageism, that it shows callous indifference to the risk and suffering of the aged. In other words, when we hear, as we often do, that fatalities are commonly among those 70 and above, we shouldn’t feel somehow relieved, a selfish sense of complacency that it is ‘only’ the elderly after all.
Well, I am technically among the elderly, and this news about risk differential is a comfort to me as my daughter and step-children continue to work in essential services. If I knew they were at greater risk than me, it would worry me much more than knowing I am at greater risk than them. In the Spanish Influenza of 1918/1919 one of its worst terrors was that it disproportionately struck the young, often suddenly and often fatally. So far, there is no sign of that with COVID-19, and I am grateful for it. I don’t think it’s ageism to find the sudden death of children and very young people more distressing than that of the old or very old. However, we do not yet know what this virus may do, and all we can do now is try to limit the spread by massive self-isolation. How long can that go on? Who knows? The one desperate hope is a vaccine, a miracle of medical know-how, or failing that, an effective treatment.
You have heard, I am sure, the vulgar cruelty of some calling COVID19 a Boomer-Remover. That expresses inter-generational hatred. I deplore the sentiment, but I also wonder what causes it. The young should care for the old, and the old should care for the young. Has that reciprocal relationship always been well maintained on both sides? I look with dismay on the entertainment and technology culture of the young, but I also see the GIG economy and a world visited with pandemics and Global Warming. Maybe it is time for all of us to reflect on our shared responsibilities. As someone said to me before we all went into hiding, “If this isn’t divine retribution, it’s certainly a very good imitation.”
Colleagues, If you have a moment, let me know what you’re doing to manage. You may know something of use to others, and I’ll post it here in the next COVID NEWS. firstname.lastname@example.org