Too often, we hear about some problems dismissed by governments, by leaders, and by business as something not worth their time and trouble – they simply wash their hands of it.
How quickly times change, and how quickly we learn to wash our hands.
Fingers crossed everyone, this could be the BIG ONE.
This is not about the long-feared big earthquake that might make California into an offshore island – but it could be worse, cost more, and kill more than that ‘big fear’ the San Andreas fault might kick off massive destruction one day.
In the United States, where a few hundred cases have been identified so far, congress acted quickly to fund US$8.3 billion to combat the problem. Isn’t that like taking a fly-swatter to Jurassic Park?
Political talking heads the world over are preaching calm – not so much for you or me, but for political and markets stability. Hoarding toilet tissue might be avoided. Panic will not. We see the beginning of something, and most of us have only our fingers crossed – with little else we can do. People all over the planet are canceling gatherings, events, and related travel.
People are dying with this virus; right, some were frail and old, likely to die soon of something else, but there is more damage being done than that kind of statement infers.
The economy is not the victim, we are – because the economy is us. All of us live, breathe, and work as part of an economy whichever country we call home.
Loss of life is inevitable, but nobody knows how many or for how long.
Loss of money is also certain – fueled not by statistics, but by fear.
I think the number who will be infected and die is being grossly underestimated – and I hope I am wrong. The bigger guessing game is the economy of every country. The impact will be more significant than anyone thinks, more prolonged than anyone might imagine, and more painful to recover from than any other big disaster since WWII.
Am I an expert? No. Do I know any of this for sure? No.
I am trying to keep myself informed – and from what I’ve gleaned, I am coming to these conclusions – not happily, but unreservedly.
I’ve been watching media, reading some history, and reading statements by medical experts who are talking and writing about this pandemic. So far, the most significant numbers for infection and death are in China – and I’ve yet to speak with anyone who believes the Chinese government representatives are telling the truth. They don’t tell the truth about much, so why should we expect honesty and full disclosure now?
Yes, there are more doctors, scientists, technology, and vaccines than at any time in history – but we also have much more travel, and more mobility than at any time in history.
These diseases, once started, are not transmitted by strange animals or bats – the carriers and dispensers of the virus are people. 7.5 billion of us are the delivery system for diseases, infections, and viruses – and there are more of us than at any time in history.
Our memories get soft, but how long ago was it the deadly disease was AIDS, the infection was HIV, and the U.S. government (and most other governments around the world) wouldn’t spare a dime if they could manage to just give a nickel, or give a darn …
They funded expenditures, but it was drips and drops into a largely empty bucket.
What’s different now?
Everybody can get it.
Anybody can get it.
And yet President Trump asks aloud in front of media, whether a flu vaccine can stop it. Really, is this what we expect from the most powerful representative of hope for the free world?
In the 50s, we were taught to hide under our desks in the event of a nuclear attack – even small towns had air-raid sirens. We laugh about it now. But during the Cuban missile crisis, nobody was laughing. Leaders, experts, generals, and a host of wise-guys could have so easily played their diplomatic poker hands differently with disastrous results. Disaster was avoided.
When Y2K was the impending crisis, we waited until that New Year’s Eve with some trepidation – hopeful disaster would be averted, with our fingers crossed. There would have been no comfort at all in having the lights go out, and computers shut down – because dawn would have come, and smart people would figure it out. Disaster was avoided.
But what now?
Is this a Black Swan, a flock of Black Swans, or a false alarm?
Will disaster be avoided?
Each year when flu season comes, the news media offer up warnings – and most times, a doctor on-air telling us what to do, reminding us to protect small children and the frail elderly, and reminding us to wash our hands and not to touch our face. And, when AIDS was the big news item of the day, warnings were abundant – about unprotected activities, HIV drug users, hemophiliacs, and others deemed most as risk.
Viruses don’t respect the boundaries of country borders or oceans, don’t care what age or racial or gender group they attack – and each person infected then becomes a new transmitter for some undefined incubation and infection period.
Staying self-quarantined for 14 days? That might work for most of us who are otherwise healthy without respiratory problems, so we’ll likely survive – but whether companies survive, whether the economy survives, those are other questions.
A budget of US$8.3 billion?
My guess is 100 times that won’t be enough.
The expectation world leaders are exhibiting is so diametrically opposed to what medical experts are saying; tamping down information is what they are doing. Some countries are testing 10,000 people every day. The most powerful country in the world is setting up a piggy bank and telling people to wash their hands and to not touch their face.
In Canada, the central bank cut interest rates – as have central banks in many countries. Our federal government struck a committee of cabinet ministers. The official position is a goal to contain, not prevent, the inevitable.
They are strategizing a ‘whole country’ solution once the health care system is through the current flu season.
It strikes me that Canada’s action-steps, like our American neighbor, is equivalent to a strategy of hiding under our desks with fingers crossed – too little, too slow, wrong-headed actions. Until we have the doctors in control of both the information we get and the strategies which are ‘best science rather than best-spin,’ and adequately funded to save us from the worst outcomes we can imagine, I believe we should be mindful of the advice of Elmer Fudd, “Be afwaid, be vewwy afwaid.”
Washing our hands often and not touching our faces is the least we can do – and the next steps, the best steps, should be at the direction of those who know what they are talking about, experts with credentials in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.
I’ve heard some comments in media, and remarks from politicians – to the effect that way too much is being said and written about this problem.
I fear, and I believe far too little is being written about it.
Worse, I believe far too little is being done.
In the fullness of time, we will know.
Manufacturers of masks, gowns, goggles, rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, and hand soap are literally cleaning up, and they will likely be the only winners.
I did not comment on yesterday’s instalment. What struck me, in addition to the obvious gut wrenching experience it had to be for you, was how many times I continue to relearn those same lessons, especially with my wife. Thankfully, she continues to be patient with me, RH, Calgary, AB/from Bradenton, FL