The New York Times Stole Our Thunder
We started off a planned longer series of looking at where we should go with our response to this (and other) viral threats, but this opinion piece from the New York Times pretty much sums up where we were going with it.
The writer is certainly one of our top qualified experts in infectious disease (remember, there is NO one “top expert” in infectious disease, despite what media writers keep parroting) so his opinion is certainly worth reading, although no person can predict the future and experts are some of the people most likely to disagree with others in their field.
We are going to have to be more proactive and provocative around here if we don’t want to keep getting scooped by rags like the New York Times :)!
Let’s lay it out there. Here’s our position.
The world in terms of disease threats and how they may affect you has NOT changed between last Fall/Winter and now. There have always been diseases, including respiratory viruses that usually don’t kill us but sometimes do, out there the whole time. Years ago, it may interest you to know, The Straight Dope columnist Cecil Adams, did a column on this.
His speculation: That boring old respiratory viruses have probably killed more humans than anything else.
What changed recently was most people’s awareness of this fact.
Also, what changed was how people feel about this fact, and unfortunately the feeling is often now fear stoked to epic proportions by a sensationalist media and politicians and bureaucrats with agendas.
It’s also our position that the lack of awareness and interest prior to these developments was not a good thing, and led to a lot of preventable suffering and death. We recently visited a reopened store, and frankly, we liked the shields, the wiping off the keypads and the social distancing. They weren’t that inconvenient or expensive and they offer a lot of “bang for the buck,” hitting some of the possible hot spots for disease transmission.
But people have to come to grips with the reality that diseases exist, and there is no way to completely avoid them. Respiratory viruses exist and there is no way to completely avoid them. You can decide to live the life of a hermit with severe OCD if you want, but that’s no way to live. The boy in the bubble was pretty miserable. People are going to have to accept that in the past, now, and in the future every time you travel through the world, pathogens await. That’s why you have an immune system, and without it you wouldn’t last long.
This is no different from everything in life as well. Nobody can tell you that any activity is completely safe. A relatively common way to die is to fall down a flight of stairs. You could slip in the shower or tub and give yourself a brain hemorrhage. Somewhere is an ICU right now someone is on a ventilator, most of his limbs amputated, because he fell down and skinned his knee.
We don’t need to go back to our bad, old ways. There are low-cost, low-impact things that are simple to do that can make us all safer. But there will never be no viruses, no germs or no dangers as we go about our daily lives. And we need to make peace with that, because a fear-filled life is not a fulfilling one.