If last week was crazy busy, this one is moving at ludicrous speed (and yet also dragging by—last Friday seems like a distant eternity ago). Since last week, panic over the coronavirus is spreading alongside the dreaded virus. There have been a series of major cancellations, all of which have been well-advertised: Disneyland, professional sports, etc. The South Carolina Philharmonic, of which I used to be a season ticket holder, is closing its concert to the public, but will instead livestream the proceedings. Our senior US Senator Lindsey Graham has self-quarantined.
My assessment up until this week has been that we should be prudent in preparing for the impact of the coronavirus, but that it’s a tad overblown—it’s just a nasty flu. I still caution prudent prepping—and against panic—but after the events of the past week, I’m adjusting my assessment. There is definitely something different about this pandemic.
The whole mood this past week has been surreal. Each day the sense of impending dread has increased. Part of that is stress from work, but the looming threat of an invisible death-flu doesn’t help, either.
One effect of this situation—a potentially positive one—will be the clarification it brings. The school where I teach is proactively preparing us for the possibility of remote/distance learning. It will be a huge adjustment, to be sure, should it come to that, but teachers, students and parents will figure it out. It will be an opportunity to test whether or not distance learning—with a mix of online assessments and pre-recorded and live lectures—makes more sense in an age of great connectivity.
I don’t want school to go to remote/distance learning for two weeks, but if it does, I’m excited at the prospect of working up some history audio lessons that could double as podcasts.
Further, a lot of silly and even dangerous thinking is going to come under some intense scrutiny. People indulge in a lot of whimsical notions about reality when they can afford to shield themselves from it, but the coronavirus is no respecter of wealth and status. Hopefully prudence will prevail. The wisdom of tight border controls is more and more evident, as Russia, which closed its border in January, has had no deaths from the virus; Italy, which refused to close its borders (if only Matteo Salvini were still in office… sigh), is struggling on Chinese levels.
That said, it’s unfortunate that it takes a global pandemic to knock sense into people. I am worried about my parents and loved ones who are over sixty. I’m not so concerned about contracting the virus myself (although that would no-doubt be unpleasant), but I certainly don’t want to be the cause of anyone else getting it.
Stock up, wash your hands, and don’t visit any hospitals if you can help it. And pray for the heat (it was eighty-two degrees in SC today) to burn this sucker off.
A brief coda: I paid $31 to file for the Lamar, SC town council special election this afternoon, which is slated for 12 May 2020. The election is to fill a vacant council seat. I’m not seeking to raise any funds or spend anything on the campaign (which will be bare-bones, anyway, as I’m so busy), but just to meet with folks and maybe do some door-knocking. Jeffersonian simplicity is the goal. With a mayor who thinks pollen is a hate crime, I figure I could act as a check on any foolishness.