The first thing I read this morning in the NYT: yesterday Italy reported nearly 800 deaths on Saturday alone due to COVID-19. It does seem like Italy’s reporting system influences their fatality rate**. However it still is an overwhelming and intensely tragic number for sure.
The bad news about how this virus is rapidly spreading — causing job loss, economic suffering and loss of life — and is only getting worse. We should all be prepared. There are no quick or simple answers.
And while our federal government has responded extremly poorly (gross understatement), there are good things happening.
Companies like Apple and GM are stepping up and so are wealthy individuals. And so are every day citizens with their time, money and personal sacrifice — at gas stations, grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, factories, trucking, airlines and more. In Korea, they are developing a 10 minute COVID-19 diagnostic test. All of this effort will dramatically increase: the world has woken up and humanity is not giving up.
So, I have two asks for you today.
1/ Please sign this petition to support our health care workers. It’s free and it’s an attempt to advocate for those that are putting their lives on the line.
2/ Please consider making a donation to Feeding America. It’s a fantastic organization. I made a donation today. A little can go a long way to help feed others during this critical time.
These weeks of confinement can be seen also, it seems to me, as weeks of a national retreat, a chance to reset and rethink our lives, to ponder their fragility. I learned one thing in my 20s and 30s in the AIDS epidemic: Living in a plague is just an intensified way of living. It merely unveils the radical uncertainty of life that is already here, and puts it into far sharper focus. We will all die one day, and we will almost all get sick at some point in our lives; none of this makes sense on its own (especially the dying part). The trick, as the great religions teach us, is counterintuitive: not to seize control, but to gain some balance and even serenity in absorbing what you can’t.
There may be moments in this great public silence when we learn and relearn this lesson. Because we will need to relearn it, as I’m rediscovering in this surreal flashback to a way of living I once knew. Plague living is almost seasonal for humans. Like the spring which insists on arriving.
**Update: Paulo André on Twitter makes a great point: these people wouldn’t have died now if it wasn’t for COVID-19