Coming to terms with the possibility that a very large percentage of us may get COVID-19

I know it’s probably not productive at this point to continue with the assigning of blame. The cat, as they say, is now out of the bag, and I don’t know what good it does to dwell on the numerous and significant failures of Donald Trump and his appointees, who, it would seem, were more interested in the health of the stock market, and avoiding the wrath of a president in denial, than they were about containing a very real public health emergency and protecting the American people. [Word is that we didn’t test aggressively early on, at least in large part, because public health officials didn’t want to encounter the wrath of Donald Trump, who was adamant that we didn’t have a problem.] I know that, right now, our focus should be on ensuring that the most vulnerable among us are protected, and that systems are in place to care for the infected, but, when I see things like this following piece of video, I can’t help but feel as though I have to at least note how absolutely infuriating it is that we’ve been put in a situation where an intellectually-incurious, science-denying, 2nd rate reality television personality is making life and death decisions for us and our loved ones.

Like I was saying earlier, though, as upset as I am about this never-ending assault on reality and decency, I don’t know that any of Trump’s bullshit really matters right now. I think we’re beyond that now. I mean, we should definitely vote him out of office this November, as he continues to pose an existential threat to all Americans, and any of the Democratic candidates running for president would be better at coordinating a comprehensive response to COVID-19 than Donald Trump. But nothing we do right now, at least based on what I’m reading, is going to stop the spread of the illness at this point. While there’s still quite a bit that can be done to slow the spread, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve now officially missed our opportunity to contain it. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said today, we’re already “likely (at) pandemic proportions.” So it really doesn’t matter all that much that Trump is still out there promising vaccines that don’t exist, and lying about the severity of what we’re facing. Trump’s already done his part. The virus is just part of our world now. And we need to accept that fact and plan accordingly.

In Washington state alone, they already have 18 confirmed cases, and six people have already died. And, given that the illness incubates for up to two weeks before the infected become symptomatic, I think it’s safe to assume that the numbers will grow exponentially over the coming weeks, as those infected by members of the first U.S. wave start to fall ill… Again, I’m sure that, if we had competent leadership, it would make an enormous difference, but, no matter who we elect to follow Donald Trump, they won’t be getting the genie back in the bottle.

I spent much of this past weekend panicking about it, but, sometime this morning, I came to accept that a lot of us, no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves, are just going to get this deadly strain of the coronavirus. And, as odd as it may sound, I took some comfort in that. This doesn’t, of course, mean that we shouldn’t all take precautions. We should. I just think that, after we all buy our disinfecting wipes and stock up on canned food, so that we can shelter in place for the next month or so, we should probably come to terms with the fact that, no matter how hard we try to hide from this, there’s a really good chance that we’re going to get it. And, then, we either live through it, or we die. I know it’s a morbid thought, but I think it’s probably healthier, and more intellectually honest, than starting at a map and thinking, “Maybe it won’t come to Michigan.” It’s already here, and we need to get our affairs in order.

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  1. I bet HW that McCabe wouldn’t be fired and all I got was this stupid name
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    Aloha MM, dont want to bust your bubble, but sheltering in place will only be marginally effective. Unless the Story about Israel having a vaccine in a couple of weeks is true, it will be a year to 18 months to develop a vaccine and months more to deploy it to enough of the population that it makes a difference.
    As with the Spanish Flu we will be dealing with this for at least two or three years.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    The best way to survive an infection is to be young and healthy and not unlucky. Then you might not notice anything at all. But I agree, it’s best to get the hysteria out of the way now, so when it really is present, you will be acting in a clear headed fashion (unless you are really sick, in which case this phrase is metaphorical, not literal).

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Since I am highly vulnerable to lung complications from basic colds and not old but also not young or healthy, I’m putting my affairs in order just in case. I meant to do it after a car accident a few years ago. I know the likelihood is not great, but it helps me manage my worst fears, which is honestly that my kids will have to deal with a mess along with grief when I’m gone. I’m not making any major plans for a while. Other than that, I will be living my life and doing my best to stay healthy. I guess it’s my version of stocking up on toilet paper. Seems more productive.

    I’m interested in people’s takes on whether a pandemic will be good or bad for healthcare reform. It’s hard to have an abundance mentality mid-pandemic. On the other hand, the need to more equitably share the collective health care burden and. benefits will be made more plain.

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Oh and yes, I will be washing my damn hands for 30 seconds plus.

  5. Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I tried to strike the right tone in this post. I’m not trying to be fatalistic, and I don’t want to contribute toward the panic that’s coming. I too will be washing my hands, and doing everything else that’s being recommended by the CDC. With that said, though, I think there’s good reason, based on the evidence in front of us, to come to terms with the fact that there may not be any hiding from this.

    Best of luck to us all.

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Lastly, Is a ‘solid flu vaccine’ (per Trump) even a thing? What’s a solid vaccine– a vaccine taken orally on a sugar cube?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I think it will depend on the severity of any pandemic. Nobody cares about a pandemic of the common cold, which we have had since time immemorial. In fact, we lump together all sorts of different pathogens into this category and accept it as such since it’s not worth the time and effort to sort them out individually. Everybody cares about a pandemic of Ebola, since the mortality is very acute and high. Fortunately, since the symptoms are so dramatic, it’s very unlikely that this will ever occur. We have lived with a pandemic of smoking related illnesses for some time now, and accepted it. We have lived with a pandemic of HIV-related disease, and have largely accepted it. We have lived with a pandemic of obesity related disease, and have largely accepted it. The only difference with COVID-19 is that we haven’t accepted it yet because at this time it is new and we have not yet found an acceptable way to scapegoat the victim. Not everybody is fat. Not everybody is a smoker. Not everybody is an IV drug user. Not everybody is from a “—-hole” country. But everybody gets old. And that’s the rub. Americans are “not allowed” to get old.

    One of my kids who is not old enough to vote but old enough to be politically aware in a semi-sophisticated sense mentioned that he and his high school friends are not afraid of COVID-19, and that maybe there is a silver lining in all this. He then mentioned that with Pete and Amy dropping out, the youngest person that could possibly be president would be Elizabeth, and that she is 70. I think people are catching on that there is something not quite right with that.

  8. Sad
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    And Biden and Bernie are going to be out shaking a lot of hands in giant crowds.

    It will put healthcare center stage.

  9. Sad
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Maybe if everybody else gets sick Mayor Pete could make a comeback at the convention in July!

  10. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Trump is spreading the disease to suppress the vote in November! It’s tyranny!!!

  11. Dave Morris
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    An infectious disease expert at Fred Hutchinson in Seattle is estimating that there are roughly 570 people infected in this local outbreak, and that the infections are doubling every 6 days. So if this virus continues unabated for 90 days, this local outbreak alone will infect 18.6 million people ( 570 x 2^15 ). And if the fatality rate is 2%, that works out to 372,000 people.

    I sure as hell hope he is wrong. I don’t think my math is.

    The firefighters that acted as first responders to the nursing home are showing signs of flu and are being quarantined. 5 of the 6 people that died were nursing home patients with underlying conditions, but the sixth was a 40 year old man from snohomish county. There is no info I can find about if he had an underlying condition.

    I’m smack dab in the middle geographically of this outbreak. They say the Northshore school district attendance yesterday was only 2/3rds of the student body. They are closing many schools in the area and trying to do deep cleans.

  12. Eel
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    From someone on social media:

    A lot of cheap flights right now, and part of me thinks, if im going to get the coronavirus, I might as well get it in a deeply discounted 5 star hotel in Venice

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink


    In what universe, HW, is a pandemic good for Trump. We do have two shitty final candidates but he’s really and truly fucked if this thing goes sideways on him. He better start praying with his ministers that this things cools down instead of blows.

    I remember when I was a kid and we were waiting out 3 mile island, there were two responses. Some people left town immediately. The rest of us hunkered down and waited. I rode my horse a lot thinking that was a good way to go out. My parents had a dinner bell to ring to call me back inside. My teen sister was mad she couldn’t go out to meet her friends at McDonald’s.
    Its a stoic German community and people were pretty blase about it really. We were not talking about it. If you did, people laughed at you. Feels like that now.

    In the end, we were all fine, except for the release of radioactive steam into the air and water into the river. Much later we all found out that a hydrogen bubble inside the reactor was growing to the point of a meltdown, but then it turned a corner and resided.

    Let’s all hope that;s what happens, especially Trump>

    Meanwhile, you are the only one here suggesting a conspiracy or joking about it. I’m sure if we all get lucky you will tell us how brilliant you are. We should rename you Stopped Clock.

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    It’s kind of a thing now for Dem presidents to pick up hot messes left by previous GOP regimes and then spend 8 years cleaning it up, just get the ship righted, only to lose again the next cycle for their effort.

    Humans really are the dumbest animals of all.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Dear members of the XXX XXXXXXXXXXX community,

    I regret to inform you that last night, in light of the evolving coronavirus pandemic and out of an abundance of caution for the health of our patients and our XX,000 employees, XXX XXXXXXXX Health issued a new travel policy effective immediately that places a 60 day moratorium on any and all domestic or international travel by its personnel for business or academic purposes including meetings and congresses.

    This means that you will not be seeing those of who work or train at XXX XXXXXXX in XXXXXX at the XXXX meeting or ancillary meetings and it also means that our annual departmental reunion scheduled for XXXXX night XXXXXXX XX in XXXXXX is cancelled. As a group we are of course very disappointed but as members of the XXX XXXXXXX Health community we are also mindful of our responsibilities to those we care for and to one another.

    Thank you for your understanding and support. Stay safe and healthy.

  16. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    “In what universe, HW, is a pandemic good for Trump.”

    Did I ever say anything like that? In fact I said it would be good for dems, dumbass.

  17. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    That’s funny you subconsciously ape my sayings even though you deny it. “In what universe” is something I have written many times. I guess deep down you think my writing is effective. Otherwise why would you unwittingly imitate it?

  18. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Jean fancies herself as the one who gets to decide who is or isn’t dense.

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    HW fancies himself as original in use of the phrase ‘In what universe…”

    Here’s what HW said: “Trump is spreading the disease to suppress the vote in November! It’s tyranny!!!”” — something I should add that was suggested by no one, because yes we all understand that a pandemic is not good for Trump.
    Me: “In what universe, HW, is a pandemic good for Trump.”
    HW: Did I ever say anything like that? In fact I said it would be good for dems, dumbass.

    When I point up the lack of basis and fundamental illogic of attributing that thinking to us, he thinks I’m suggesting he doesn’t get the obvious.

    I know you get the obvious, HW. You suggested we did not. You attributed something to us that no one said.

    And, lastly, FF– I did not call him dense: HW called me an idiot.

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Of sorry FF, it was dumbass. He called me dumbass.

    HW leans hard on the ad hominem. Always a sign of rhetorical weakness.

  21. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Did you ever write it before I did many times? Never said anything about originating the phrase. Facts.

    You will blame Trump for anything possible. It’s called satire.

  22. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t need ad hominem at all. You could take out all superfluous comments I have made and there would still be a reasonable argument. I think my detractors here including you not only use it way more but you compensate for a lack of reason with it.

  23. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Do you ever re-read all the brilliant things you write, Jean? You should.

  24. William Shatner by proxy
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Mark, live life like you’re gonna die. Because you’re gonna.

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    No FF, I spend too much time reading your lengthy monologues that demonstrate how poorly you comprehend what you read. Maybe you spend to much time re-reading your comments. That explains a lot actually.

  26. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 3, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Joe beating that ass. American Samoa weighs in with five for Bloomberg and one for Gabbard.

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