When we last spoke, Coronavirus AKA COVID-19 was inciting a global paranoia pandemic that has since supernova’d into a raging bonfire of hysteria.
SXSW and Coachella have been canceled. Trump hasn’t touched his face in weeks and has come within a single degree of a person confirmed to be infected. All of Italy is in full lockdown. The National Guard has been deployed to quarantine an entire city in New York. Angela Merkel predicts two-thirds of Germans could become infected. Europe is banning large gatherings to stem the spread, Seattle is doing the same, and South Korea’s number of infected has doubled in less than a day. Colleges and schools are closing. Stock markets are plummeting, cratering in the USA near where they were in the 2008 recession, no bottom in sight.
Worldwide, over 120,000 people have contracted the disease and it has killed 4,390 people. COVID-19 infection starts off innocently enough. After a gestation period of up to two weeks, symptoms initially mirror those of a cold or flu, starting with a stuffy nose and cough. For most, around 80%, it never spreads beyond that. For people with weakened or compromised immune systems, however, it can move to the lungs, much like pneumonia, wreaking havoc faster than the body can repair and causing death.
Antibiotics, flu shots, and other currently common anti-virals have no effect. Scientists are chasing a cure, with some hope, but their efforts are being stymied by, among other things, a shortage of lab rats for testing. One company in England is skipping the vermin and going straight to the source, offering brave souls $4500 to allow them to inject them with a light dose of COVID-19 in their hunt for a vaccine.
As with any headline-grabbing topic, the trolls are crawling up from the bottom of society to spread disinformation. The lunatic fringe is railing that COVID is a global cover-up of something they’re calling ‘5G Syndrome,’, riling people up with false positives in various communities, making up stories about a new, deadlier mutation of the virus, and let’s not forget Republican Senator Tom Cotton constantly espousing the debunked theory that Corona is a Chinese bioweapon. Even the cops are getting in on the fun, with a department in Texas claiming to have seized Corona tainted methamphetamine.
In China, where Corona was first highlighted by a whistleblower doctor who later died from the disease, officials are claiming the epidemic is finally leveling off, though many claim this is just more government propaganda.
So, what do you do? Should we take to the big box stores and stock up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer? Cram every available cupboard with non-perishable food items? Build a damn moat around your house? While the Center for Disease Control expressed that the elderly and those with weak immune systems should ‘stock up and stay close to home,’ paranoia amongst the general populace has reached a fever pitch. Where this will end is anybody’s guess—even the zealots are hedging their bets and hunkering down. One upside: as in last year’s California wildfires, if everything is closed and everyone is hiding inside, the world becomes a giant skate park.
Also, if you’re the gambling type, there’s never been a cheaper time to take a cruise.
A woman sits on top of a “throne” made of boxes containing toilet paper in Toowoomba, Australia March 5, 2020. in this picture obtained from social media. CHRIS AND HAIDEE JANETZKI via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.