Monday, March 16, 2020

Random Coronavirus Thoughts

Living in a city where the authorities are daily pushing healthy people more and more into isolation in the name of safe social distancing, I spent the past weekend as I normally do, save for the few places I like to frequent that have been shut down for the next month or so. I wanted to test the waters and give it time to see if all the hype is justified. In other words, I have not been practicing social distancing that much. Instead, here is what my weekend was like.

First, before this whole coronavirus panic started, I was writing a short post for my Honey and Hemlock website on author Mary Shelley and her views on Greeks and her references to Constantinople in her writings. She is famous of course for writing Frankenstein, but she is also the author of a lesser known novel called The Last Man. The Last Man is basically about a plague that emerges in Constantinople and spreads over to Greece, with Greeks being main characters in the story, and from there throughout the entire world until finally a last man survives. I read the book many years ago, and as I was writing I realized I needed to read this book again. The next day, the coronavirus panic began, and I began to slowly reread The Last Man. If anyone is looking for good reading material during this epidemic, I highly recommend The Last Man by Mary Shelley.

I went to four different movie theaters over the weekend. There wasn't much else to go out and do. Very few people were at the movies, but those who did go were surprisingly many older people past 65 years of age. I figured it would have been more young people, since older people are most vulnerable to the virus, but it seems they were going about their life as usual. The Divine Liturgy I attended on Sunday didn't have much of an attendance either, unsurprisingly. The places that did have a lot of people, like bars and restaurants and grocery stores, I avoided.

One of the ways I make my money to pay my bills is by driving for Uber. Mostly I drive around college kids. On Wednesday it was announced that the local colleges will be shutting down for the rest of the year and all the students were going to continue their studies for the semester from home. When it was announced for Boston College, I had a student from there in my car, and though the announcement was expected, she was upset. In fact, almost every student I drove around was upset by the whole thing, for different reasons.

So what were the young people doing over the weekend before going back home? They were drinking...a lot. Some of the more sober-minded students were telling me that they had never seen so much drinking in their life. Many of them drank so much that they became hospitalized. And there was chaos. They told me the dorms are full of broken furniture and punched in walls. I drove around some drunk kids too, and mostly they were nice, a little obnoxious and loud but nice, though some were a bit stressful to be around. I drove around more than usual this weekend because I knew business was going to die down a lot when they leave, so I figured I make as much as I can now. I don't think it is a right move to cancel colleges for a number of reasons which I won't get into. If anything I think it is more dangerous to send them home. But it is what it is.

Personally, I'm not at all worried about the coronavirus. I don't want to catch it, but that's mainly because I don't want to self-isolate. I already live enough of an isolated life without the virus, so if anything I need to be more social. I don't know anyone with a weak immune system or that is elderly that I associate with, so I'm not worried about passing it on to anyone for whom it would be a danger. I spoke with one young woman from China who thinks we aren't taking this virus seriously enough in America and thinks the government should be more extreme like in China, but I explained how China is an authoritarian government while here in America we cherish our freedom, so such extremes wouldn't go over well here.

Yesterday I drove around a young gay couple who were both virulogists. Before they told me what they were, they asked me what I thought about the coronavirus as an Uber driver. I basically told them that I have no worries about it, because all the scientific evidence so far reveals it is a weak virus for someone like me were I to be infected, and those who get in the car with me I expect to have a similar understanding otherwise they would be isolating themselves at home at this time. This is when they told me what they were, and they said they like to ask people questions about the coronavirus for their own personal entertainment, and that I gave probably the best answer they heard so far. Then they explained to me how they have studied coronavirus in the lab, and knowing how weak of a virus it is they thought it was ridiculous how much everyone was overreacting.

In conclusion, after spending the weekend thinking a lot about coronavirus, and seeing the impact it is having on society the way it is being handled, which is mostly negative and somewhat extreme, I am more and more convinced it is an overreaction that will likely have more of a negative impact than a positive one. I understand why thins are being done the way they are, but I don't think it right. Scientists tend to be extremists and look at worst case scenarios, and it this type of mentality that is running things. All I see is a bunch of healthy people being forced to isolate themselves more and more, when even if they get the virus nothing will happen to them. What should be happening is people with weak immune systems and the elderly should be isolating themselves for about a month or two, and perhaps all those who will be around them, till all those who are healthy and infected become disinfected. Otherwise the impact on the economy is gonna be huge, among other things. But this is just my opinion, which at this point I know is worthless.