Pandemic – the Cassandra Factor


I hate being right about COVID-19. I expect Cassandra probably regretted being right about the Trojan War. Mind you, I don’t expect that I’ll be raped and murdered as she was (which might have been another reason for her regrets at her accuracy). But I digress.
OK, COVID-19 is here. There is at least one confirmed case in my own county. We have three possible exposures among patients at our clinic, two of whom are in quarantine or self-isolation. If you want to see what it looks like in the world today, check this map. In particular, look at Europe – we are where they were three weeks ago.
The thing you need to know about this virus is that it’s exponential spread. That means one person infects at least two more, those two infect at least two each: 1-2-4-8-16-32 and so on. It is unquestionably spreading in communities. Many people think they have a cold or the flu, so they aren’t self-isolating. Big gatherings are continuing. Mexico just made the unutterably stupid mistake of allowing a big music festival. People can spread the virus without having symptoms (asymptomatic spread).
Here’s what I think you can expect, in no particular order:

  • 1. Depleted store shelves, particularly for things like hand sanitizer, bleach, rubbing alcohol, food and toilet paper. Of all those, toilet paper seems to be the one in most demand. Seems a little silly to me. Go to the Salvation Army store and buy about three dozen old tee shirts. Cut into large rags – probably about four per shirt. Put a covered bucket in the bathroom filled with a solution of one gallon water to one cup vinegar (don’t use bleach, it’ll destroy the fabric). Use the rags to wipe, flush the toilet. Put on a rubber glove (keep them in the bathroom and don’t use for anything else). Rinse off solids with another flush and put the rag in the vinegar bucket. Every other day or so, wash the bucket in hot soapy water in the washer. This is how us oldsters handled cloth diapers, which I suppose the younger generations thinks an antiquated practice. But it works.
  • 2. Difficulties in getting COVID-19 tests, ranging from minor to severe. There simply aren’t enough tests – I don’t care what the politicians are telling you. Not to mention that many people in the medical profession aren’t going to order one unless you meet specific criteria, which vary by county and organization. In my own county, public health is only testing health care workers. Since people aren’t getting tests, no one has any real idea how many infected people are walking around. That’s why infections are exploding all over the world.
  • 3. Cancellation of various gatherings and activities – church, seminars, rodeos, meetings, concerts, local and national events.
  • 4. School shutdowns at all levels (and the sooner the better in my opinion).
  • 5. Travel restrictions within the US and probably your town – certainly in cities. I expect New York and Washington to be the first states to lockdown, probably followed by California. Did I hear someone say, “They can’t do that!”? Oh yes, they can. The formal declaration of a pandemic and the emergency declarations being made by states and counties legally confer some pretty sweeping powers on the local and national authorities to control the spread of an infectious disease.
  • 6. Expect that you will be ordered to stay home unless you work in a vital field: health care, fire protection, law enforcement.
  • At the same time, spring is bursting out all over (except for the several feet of snow that just got dumped in the Sierra Cascades near me). My fruit trees are blooming, I have daffodils out and the early potatoes, lettuce, asparagus and such are above ground. Since so much of the rest of my life right now is filled with not-good things, I’m trying hard to focus on the good stuff. Be careful out there – take precautions like wearing a mask even if people laugh at you or say they aren’t necessary. We’ll get through this, but there will be a cost.

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    2 Responses to Pandemic – the Cassandra Factor

    1. littleleftie says:

      Agreed. Here in Canada, things are a little better, with schools mostly all closed, social distancing encouraged, most community events cancelled and the testing being readily done. As another RN, I can attest to the need for self-protection. But…I don’t “get” the toilet paper stockpiling. Like you, I told someone at my clinic last week about going back to using cloth diapers and washcloths for butt cleansings. She was young, under 25 and gave me a look of horror that made me laugh. This younger generation has zero clue, since they’ve been raised in such a disposable society. Seems everyone now, since toilet paper is unavailable, is stockpiling paper towels. Even stupider. Better know a damn good plumber, if those get flushed!!!
      Stay calm and stay healthy. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

      • Bee says:

        LOL – I hadn’t thought about the paper towel possibility! You’re right, COVID-19 could be a really good thing for plumbers. California just shut down all wineries, bars, brew pubs and nightclubs, and restaurants can only operate at half capacity to allow for social distancing (AGHH! Shut ’em down, dammit!). Anyone over 65 is advised to self-isolate at home (ain’t going to happen with me unless they make it mandatory – I have patients to take care of). High schools in my area just closed for at least three weeks. You’re welcome, and you take care, too.

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