David Pisarra

Coronavirus is causing people to lose their minds. Seriously, people are fighting each other over toilet paper? That’s what they are stockpiling? In the face of a possible, maybe, quarantine the most important thing is toilet paper?

Italy is now under a countrywide quarantine protocol, Israel is making all travelers self-quarantine for 14 days, whether they are returning citizens or not. And American shoppers are attacking each other tissue paper.

The false sense of security that some governments are trying to establish would be laughable, if it weren’t for the extreme costs involved and the ineffectiveness of the “security theater.”

When I landed in South Africa three weeks ago, I had to be ‘screened’ by a digital thermometer that read whether or not I was running a temperature. Evidently the machine wouldn’t work properly if I didn’t remove my glasses, which struck me as hilarious. In Namibia, I had to undergo a similar process but they used a better camera system. Of course all of this was basically just a ‘full employment’ act since the studies have shown that this type of airport screening is useless, and in fact actually is probably counterproductive because it creates a false sense of security and health.

The real measures to reduce infection rates are things like regular hand washing, staying away from infected individuals and being under 70. The response to this latest global pandemic has been extraordinary, both in the precautions being taken to stop the spread of it in Europe and Asia, and the response in the scientific community to establishing vaccines and treatments.

One of the lesser noted numbers in the near constant reporting is the recovered category, nearly 60% of those who have been identified with the virus have since recovered, and most of the remaining patients are in a recovery phase. As of the writing of this piece on Monday March 9, total U.S. deaths from coronavirus have finally equalled the *daily* suicide rate of our military veterans. Yes we’ve lost 22 people to a virus, most of them in one convalescent care facility in Washington that was understaffed and improperly run. We lose 22 people a day to suicide, and most of those are men who have been left adrift by the Veteran’s Administration.

The Federal government has allocated $8.3 billion for the crisis. That’s good and all. We need to address this medical crisis, from a federal perspective, but I’m curious why we can’t find an additional $8.3 billion for the veterans who need help.

Tourism is taking a giant hit with the cancellation of flights, events and as people are staying home more, I expect that UBEREats and DoorDash will be seeing record profit next quarter. This is not a good thing for most restaurants as the costs of these delivery services eat into the profits for our local restauranteurs. Cruise lines are taking a huge hit as the U.S. government has officially stated that people should avoid them in the near term. America is no longer in a ‘containment’ phase, but rather a ‘mitigation’ phase – meaning we have widespread infections and need to limit the further expansion fo the infection.

I’m not sure how all of this is going to shake out. Will Coronavirus become a deadly pandemic like the Spanish Flu of 1917? Probably not and mainly because we have much more powerful medicines, and communications today. The power of our technology and our modern life is what has allowed this current virus to travel the globe as quickly as it did. Global air transportation has exacerbated the transmission rate of this virus and helped it spread to 6 of the 7 continents.

Currently there are labs working around the clock to find treatments, cures and vaccines for what will hopefully be more tempest than teapot, but we won’t know until it’s all over. Our government’s reaction has been lackluster at best, the President’s comments aside. His own administration officials are now coming out and addressing the reality of the risks, and the actions that are being taken to address the situation.

I know for myself that I am not panicking about the virus, but I’m also not underestimating the long term damage that this will do to the economy, and the social health of our society. We will get past this, and return to a state of greater peace and calm. And there will be more than enough toilet paper to go around.

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