Learning to live with a pandemic


As I wrote about a few days ago, now’s the time to stay home and help flatten the curve. And using the resources I linked to in that previous post, you can see for yourself how important it is county by county for everywhere in the USA.

But what about when we open up? How do we do that? What happens then?

Well, the dreaded Coronavirus will spread. Seeing as a vaccine only exists in our imagination for the forseeable future, there’s no way that the virus won’t spread unless everyplace on earth can keep a unified 100% lockdown until there are zero new cases AND zero deaths for at least two weeks.

In other words, there’s no way. We humans are simply not that organized.

That’s why I keep saying that you will be exposed in 2020. Don’t panic. Remember this:
  1. Being exposed doesn’t mean you’ll be infected (most people aren’t)
  2. Being infected doesn’t mean you’ll get sick (some people don’t)
  3. Getting sick doesn’t mean you’ll need hospital care (most people don’t)
  4. Needing hospital care doesn’t mean you’ll die (the vast majority survive, provided they do get the needed care)

The crisis isn’t really about the virus, it’s about overwhelming our healthcare system. That’s the worry.

Provided that there is a functional healthcare system, the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that you will survive this, no matter how old you are. Even the highest mortality rate I’ve seen for those over 80 years old is only 15%. That means that even for my eight-four year-old mother-in-law, she has an 85% chance of surviving if she should contract COVID-19.

Now I take those odds seriously enough that I went on voluntary quarantine for 2-weeks back in March when I thought I might have maybe been exposed. (Big consequences? Play it real safe!!!)

As for when anything opens back up anywhere, you can expect the virus to reverberate through the population. It will wash back and forth until there’s a vaccine or we achieve “herd immunity”, just like any other such infectious disease.

As long as the number of people needing hospital care stays within what hospitals can actually provide, it’s scary but not exactly a crisis. 97 out of every 100 people who get this will live.

How do we do keep ourselves under our available critical care threshold? Like China did. By raising the number of people our hospitals can care for, testing like crazy, and containing anyone who’s suffering from and spreading the disease.

Now obviously in China, this is possible in ways that would be unacceptable in western society. We’re unlikely to weld the doors shut on people in their homes regardless of how much food/supplies they have inside, and then patrol the streets with lethal force. That seems to be exactly what happened in Wuhan in February. That’s why they could start opening up in the last month.

What will we do here instead? I don’t know, something probably more humane but not as effective. Our people will have more freedoms, and therefore more deaths. That seems to be what we’re comfortable with here.

I’d recommend using this time to focus on your health. Get strong. Improve your diet. Be happier. These are things that will improve your immunity, your chances of survival, and — let’s be honest — your overall well-being. Live or die, there are no downsides to these actions.

COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. The best we can do is get as personally ready for it as we can, then isolate ourselves the moment we suspect we might be spreading it to those we love.

I’d hope that you already do this anyhow. But if not, then let this be the excuse you need to make your life better. It will make life better for everyone around you too.