The Coronavirus Superheroes

There is plenty of bad news when it comes to the Coronavirus pandemic, but let’s not overlook or ignore the good news. Some of the statistical models are looking good, but I’m not talking about that.

There are people who are fighting on the front lines to stop this. There are others making sure that you can continue living your life even as you are sheltering in place. And puppies are being adopted.

In this episode, I talk about some of the good that is happening all around us.

Mentioned links:

COVID-19 Infographic (from listener Phil)

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Show transcript

We are living through, not a historic event, but a historic time. Events are more like Pearl Harbor or the first moon landing. But this is an extended period of time that is no less historic, like the two world wars, and now, the Coronavirus.

I have tried to instill into my kids a sense of history that they’re living through while it happened; 9/11, America’s first black president, and now Coronavirus. I’ve told them that they’ll be able to tell stories about this to a generation for whom this is just a page, or a chapter, in a history book. But what kind of stories will they be?

Certainly, there is plenty of bad news to talk about. There was the historic drop in the stock market. There has been the unprecedented reach and speed of the spread of the virus. There was the huge jump in unemployment filings; 4 times higher than the previous record. Just about everything was shut down, meaning millions more were working from home (those still having jobs), restaurants were left serving only pickup or delivery, and preachers of all faiths were forced to become televangelists overnight. And after this podcast episode, coming out at the end of March 2020, there is very likely more bad news coming.

But as with many bad circumstances, the chances for us to serve our neighbors become more numerous. During this crisis, even more so, I believe, because in order to serve we have to think outside the boxes we’d used in the past. Before, during times of trouble, we might get together on the street and have a neighborhood party, or we’d gather at our places of worship to build each other up, or we’d visit a shut-in at their home and just have a nice conversation.

But today, we are all shut-in. Well, not all, exactly. A lot of us are, and certainly a lot more than used to be. But not everyone has that option. Many who can’t work from home just can’t work. If you waited tables at the local diner, you are probably not needed to fulfill take-out or delivery orders, if your restaurant is even providing that service. People like you are the folks that the recent $2 trillion+ relief package will, hopefully, help.

But there are others that can hardly take a break or a breath at all. They are the health care workers, of course. They are on the front lines of this war, with a battle raging against an invisible enemy in every hospital and medical facility in the country. Some are fighting skirmishes, some are fighting pitched battles, and some in the hot spots feel as though they are losing. At all levels, these are the people who are making the tough decisions and making do with what they have. But they are not forgotten or taken for granted. What you’re hearing right now is a sound that is repeated every evening at 8 pm, just as the shift changes at a hospital in Midtown Atlanta. In the nearby high-rise apartments, people come out onto their balconies cheering, banging pots, and flashing their lights in support of those coming out of the trenches at the shift change, and this is a show of appreciation that is happening in other cities around the country.

There are others playing supporting roles in this war. They may be behind the lines, but their help is essential. Can you still go to the grocery store and buy food? Well, keep your social distancing, but yes. Thank that cashier that is coming in contact with so many people, doing their part to keep the store open. But there are so many others that play a no-less crucial role in that effort. One much less visible group of people that contribute are those who restock the shelves once the day’s run on toilet paper is over. These speed-demons must rush to replace the products that have been bought in time for the next day’s opening bell. They have a big enough job in normal times, but in this clearly abnormal time, more speed and efficiency are required of them. In fact, some stores have begun to close early in order to give them enough time to deal with the higher demand. Cashiers and stockers, along with the managers who keep track of inventory and HR personnel who make sure all these people get paid, are all part of the supply chain that brings you the food you need.

But let’s take a step back even further in that supply chain. You can’t restock what you don’t have. The transportation industry is another one of those links in the chain that, while we may see it in action as we wait at railroad crossings or drive around trucks on the highway, don’t necessarily register with us when we grab that canned fruit off the shelf. The drivers, engineers, loaders, and those behind a desk, are just as important at this time. Listener Bradley drives one of those trucks. Since so many of us are now working from home and not commuting or taking vacations, the clear highways make his job much easier.  But how do you show appreciation for these men and women? In his case, Bradley’s employer decided to let them know, with a $500 bonus for everyone who had been working during this crisis. There’s some good news.

And while I have been focused on the medical and food industries, there are so many more people involved in what they’re calling “essential services”. Are you still getting mail? Postal workers have to handle items from all over, but neither rain nor snow nor gloom of virus are keeping them from their appointed rounds. Are you thirsty? If so, your sink still has water coming out of it. Are you listening to this podcast? Then your Internet connection is still powered and there is electricity to recharge your phone or tablet. This is all good news.

And there is good news even in what is now our current normal. A couple of memes I’ve seen say things like, “I’m trying to self-isolate at home, but the kids keep trying to come back inside”, or something like, “No sports to watch. I’ve seen this woman on the couch. Apparently, she’s my wife. She seems nice.” Getting reacquainted with your family is a good thing. And if you’re single, technology like Skype or Facebook Messenger or Zoom can keep you connected. It’s not perfect, but it will certainly help. Oh, there will be challenges, no doubt about that, but I think we can come out of this with a new appreciation of our spouse, our kids, and actual, physical presence with friends and family. You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry, as the saying goes, and this is a metaphorical drought. Some things we’ve lost and some things we’ve gained during this time. Learn to appreciate both, and that will be more good news.

Express thanks to those keeping life going. Enjoy what you have during this crisis, and appreciate what you regain after it’s over. And for those who have lost loved ones because of this, appreciate their contribution to your life while you grieve, and appreciate those still here that much more. There have been sacrifices we all have made during this time – some sacrifices far, far more than for others – but please keep looking for the good news. It is indeed all around us.

Listener Phil also sent me some thoughts on this. For one, he noted that he got out of jury duty because all jury trials were canceled until further notice. Good news for him, but not so good for those trying to prove their innocence. He also sent a link to a page with some charts and graphs regarding the Coronavirus. Link is, of course, in the show notes. It has cases and fatality rates by country, and who’s most at risk, but they lead with a bit of good news. As of March 26th, 81% of known cases are considered mild, where it just feels like the flu and you just ride it out at home. Quarantine is definitely required, but it’s not automatically a death sentence.

And one more bit of good news. In addition to a shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer because of hoarding, there’s another shortage worth mentioning. In the hard-hit New York City area, they’re running out of dogs and cats to adopt. And this is also happening in cities across the country. Yes, when you have to shelter in place, a little companionship can go a long way.

Filed under: Coronavirus (COVID-19)Medicine