I cut out every article about it (there were seven)
It was in economics, tech, stocks, and took up the entire international section.
I heard it's in Washington (I have family there oh god I have family there)
The kids at school joke about it
I never dare join in
I am panicked, worked into a frenzy
I am unfeeling, a passive observer
one thing is for certain
no one can ignore it
These two Asian girls come into my job every other day. They are clearly friends, studying abroad, giggling and talking together between broken English phrases as I assemble whatever they are planning to eat for dinner. I often wonder about them, especially since, two days into the new semester, we got an email about the coronavirus being suspected at Miami University, four hours away. Having just finished studying abroad, I couldn't imagine if something had happened in America that made the world in an uproar. My experience would have changed completely. Though I apparently have the accent of a Canadian, my New Orleans hoodie and unwillingness to eat anything that wasn't pizza, a sandwich, or chicken nuggets would have given me away easily. A fun semester of going to different parts of Europe and learning so much about England would have been squashed by blind idiocy.
I traveled to D.C. a couple of years ago and watched a kid hawk a bloody loogie onto the handrail of the train. His parents watched him too and did nothing. Didn't even try to wipe the grossness off the metal pole, just continued on with their day, ignoring that their child had just created the catalyst for infections. Though this was definitely one of the grossest things I've seen, grossness always lives in the world. People leaving the restroom without washing their hands or even wiping, babies putting random crap in their mouths, people not covering their mouths, the list goes on and on. Now, amidst cold and flu season, there is a panic because an illness that is just like the flu is spreading from China at rapid speeds.
Death tolls rising from one to three in Washington State, there are reasons to panic. People stock up on surgical masks, Lysol, and citrus, and of course, stay away from Asians. Yet, people still don't cover their mouths when they cough or wash their hands or wipe down often-used surfaces to prevent disease like the Lysol commercial has been saying since the 1980s. The virus is about as incurable as the common cold and the flu, yet the world is in a tizzy over it. There are all these videos and articles and statements from "officials" which less of a degree than I do about this virus. What to do if you catch it, how to stay safe, and the like, as if we don't already innately know what to do. People would literally look at a whole race differently when their friends are the ones spreading the diseases.
Returning to work from my jaunt through the idiocy of humans, I watch these two girls walk away (not in a creepy way, just in a peripheral sense) and see one stop. She sighs, then lets out an adorable, "Achoooo" into her elbow. Her friend, standing a foot or two away from her, waiting, squeals what I assume is "bless you" and they keep walking. This being the most wholesome thing I'd seen in the past hour, I wish them a fun semester despite the stupidity of everyone and keep cleaning off the counters, waiting for the next person to come up to the sneeze guard.
What will happen?
I heard it came to the U.S.
Will I get it?
Will all of my loved ones die one bye one?
How will I know?
Will I cry?
What are the symptoms?
Do the people around me have it?
Am I going to die?
Is this the new plague?
Is the plague going to come back as well?
We are all going to die
Fear surrounds me, yet I can't feel it. Maybe it's because it hasn't affected anyone I care for. Like a far away dream I can't reach.
I once heard that most people with trauma have a low immune system because constant stress weakens it. Maybe I'm just trying to remain calm to keep the integrity of my immune system. I'm not really sure. A soft veil keeps me from taking in the situation.
COVID 19. The very sight of the name is unsettling. All of the deaths. All of the heartbroken families. See, it's a virus, commonly known as the Coronavirus. One of my favorite things about it is that people think they have it all the time, now that it's broken quarantine. It's a respiratory disease, with the main symptom being coughing and a high fever. One of the things people may not know, however, is that the deaths from "confirmed COVID-19 cases" are much lower than they may think. The numbers have been blown up, because some deaths may have been caused by something similar to it, and they reported themselves as having it, and they died. Also, the child mortality rate is almost nonexisitent, so I'm not worried for the children, like others may be.
All in all, it sucks, but we don't need to be as worried about it as many are.
Chaos ensues when I come to visit you
Ongoing panic is left in my wake
Viral fame is what is driving me
I spread evenly for equality sake
Death toll rises whenever I travel through
1 more life I can add to the list
9 more months before I finish my task
and this poem is written acrostic..
For so long, he had heard people complain about the need for better or more services from the state at the same time that the governments complained that they were overextended, the coffers were emptying faster than they were being filled and the situation was only going to get worse as the population continued to age while young people were having fewer children. Then there were those shouting about air pollution, global warming, carbon emissions and plastics contaminating waterways and killing marine life. He realized he could resolve all the issues with one microscopic addition to the environment.
And so he added it.
And then he waited.
It was three years before he finally began to hear news reports about a new virus that seemed to attack the elderly and infirm yet leave the young and healthy unscathed. He shook his head. Yes, they were unscathed, seemingly untouched. Yet, they were still carriers for his virulent army. Healthy carriers. Silent carriers. His army spread like wildfire. Origin? Unknown.
Theories abounded from politicians, political pundits, news show hosts, celebrity scientists…and social media, of course: biological warfare, infected wild animals, a mutation of a previously existing human virus…all wrong, and yet, not…
He watched, fascinated, as his experiment flourished. Within months, crematoriums were fully booked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nursing homes were shuttered. Schools were emptied as parents and community leaders tried to protect the future. The global economy was virtually halted while hospitals continued trying to heal the sick…to no avail.
He watched and waited, patiently, for the downturn denoting the end of his experiment and the beginning of a new and better world…
Within a year, there was no longer news for him to see or hear, for no one remained in the world’s news rooms to tell it.
Instead, he would see random YouTube videos or Facebook live streams of groups that had been isolated from the pandemic and were reaching out to survivors. They offered shelter, food, clothing, any assistance required…one just needed to find a way to get to them…. Sometimes, there was a young person reaching out to whomever might hear her plea, alone with her siblings, trying to care for them as best she could. He saw posts of young people reaching out to others trying to share what little knowledge they had garnered in their young lives; trying to figure out how to move forward, move on, become,in the world that had been left in their hands.
A world with bluer skies, cleared of the massive amounts of pollutants emanating from factories, cars and trucks caused by a global population of billions. A world with clearer water, no longer sullied by chemical run off, plastic or debris created by greed, not need. A world full of empty stores with useless, frivolous items no longer required or desired. A world full of people giving thanks for their lives and their loved ones; a world full of people for whom kindness and humility became the norm; wisdom respected and desired. A new world. A new beginning, minus the flood.