Fact, fiction and fantasy spread faster than Coronavirus

Editor & Publisher

Public officials, health care workers, doctors and stewards of every ilk and color are cautious and hyperbolic by nature. They have to be that way. They are paid and called upon to deal with disaster and pain. For that we should all bow down and thank their commitment to take on the literal messiness of death and injury.

On the flipside, their energy and spirit can sometimes become so contagious and extreme that they cripple all of the healthy instincts of an individual or a group. In other words they become like so many mothers with newborns seeing danger and risk in every movement.

“Don’t put the baby there he will crawl into the deep end of the pool.” Cut that pea in thirds or she will choke.” “Is the car seat buckled and welded and super glued in place?”

And these voices run extreme whenever prompted by an approaching hurricane, or any form of physical threat, let alone the vague and unstoppable and inexorable intrusion of a global pandemic such as Covid-19.

That is what we are now experiencing — a war between two opposing social impulses.

Do we protect life and keep our world shut down?

Or, is the exercise of social distancing and the general shutdown undermining our most healthy impulses?


The noise of distortion

I firmly believe we have entered an era of fear-mongering, a world of social control that reeks of over-protectionalism and paternalism and a world contaminated with false information, distorted news and statistics and media and politics run amuck.

First, the distortion started with what ages are affected by the pandemic most acutely.

Clearly, every age group can contract the virus, but the statistical chance of dying if you are under 50 is minimal — especially if you are healthy. So governments locally did the easiest of all tasks — told all the children of America they can stay home. Talk about starting with the low-hanging fruit.

So in my world the first thing that closed down were the elementary schools, high schools and colleges. My children were ordered home and all of their 30 year-old teachers were told to set up virtual shop.

Meanwhile, the elderly in my tennis group on Longboat key continued playing, the Sarasota assisted living facility my 76 year-old mother and 95 year-old stepfather reside in continued dining three times a day in their great hall and maid service at their facility continued.

The irony continued: all of Longboat Key toddled unprotected for weeks after the schools closed in and out of Publix touching the fruit, stroking the ATM machines and coughing at the deli counter.

Meanwhile, the United States grew concerned not when people were dying in some remote province in China, but when Northern Italy started reporting hundreds of deaths a day.


Thrill of the toilet paper hunt

I tracked the deaths like most people using sites like WorldoMeter. You could see then and now that children rarely are affected by the disease and the elderly with co-morbidities are most susceptible to death and the virus.

So instead a serious and mandated quarantine of the aged and the vulnerable, we took silly measures such as shutting all children and young adults out of all schools, off the beaches, shut boat ramps and tennis courts and basketball courts and told everyone to stay at home while the officials said up to 250,000 will die from the pandemic.

Everyone watched Tiger King and Schitt’s Creek and so many other Netflix offerings as we stayed in our bunkers and insulated ourselves as if the Germens were about to drop bombs on London and we were hiding under school desks for safety.

Meanwhile, we all ventured out looking for toilet paper. Shopping took on the thrill of the hunt. It was dangerous and edgy to go to Wal-Mart. And yet everywhere I went I saw senior citizens not staying at home, not quarantining, but doing what they wanted — shopping and taking dashes to the local Publix and CVS.


Pandemic President Andrew Cuomo

Next came the images from New York City.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had his moment in the sun when he asked Trump to decide who should die. And then the stage was set.

Cuomo has risen to the General Patton of the Pandemic. Or perhaps he does not want to be outdone by the self aggrandizement of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after 9/11.

With each passing day, Cuomo seems to grow stronger with the pandemic.

My resentment is not in his concern and care for his constituents, it is in the distortions Cuomo brings to the arena.


Cuomo’s new calculator

New York started this past week ascribing any death since mid-March that had any symptoms related to Covid-19 as a Covid–19 death — even if the deceased was never treated nor tested for the virus. It is like Mexican justice — presumptive guilt — not based on facts.

In essence, if someone died at home and was heard to cough in his final days, this is now a statistic. If someone has a fever, oops must have been Covid-19.

It is as if Cuomo has hired Mark Fuhrman out of retirement in Los Angeles to put a glove on and sprinkle Coronavirus around the morgue so he can add to his death toll.

And now every state is using New York’s presumptive model and it is further distorting the death counts. So much for politics. I feel like an insurance adjuster after a car accident saying, “Sir, not every scratch on the front and back and all sides of your car can be due to that collision.”

The idea of social distancing presumes that the virus has not already penetrated society far beyond what we hope.


We’ve gone Viral

I personally know three people all of whom tested positive for Covid-19, are in their 60s, and were asymptomatic except for a minor cough and throat irritation. They were around hundreds of people including myself leading up to their tests. The fact is they are very healthy individuals and played sports, worked and lived their lives and never felt sick. That will be the experience for the vast majority who contract the Coronavirus.

The virus attaches to the soles of our shoes; the virus can spread up to 12 feet not 6 feet; the virus can lurk on every gas station PIN pad and checkout line, not to mention the person who checks out thousands of customers a day; the virus can enter through the mail; the virus can show up with your Amazon delivery of sanitizer and reside on that gallon milk container you so carefully bought with gloves and mask like a pandemic Zorro character at Publix.

And for those susceptible, precautions should and must be made.

For the least susceptible, we are not saving the elderly by not working and not recreating and simply acting like we are on some early retirement.


A working solution

So how do we best protect the elderly, the infirm and those with serious medical conditions?

How should that be done humanely and without destroying our economy and all of our most healthy instincts?

The answer is the elderly and sick should absolutely maintain extreme quarantining and social distancing and the healthy should all work our butts off in supportive roles. This, if anything, is what should be mandated.

We should be delivering groceries to anyone and everyone over 65. The police and volunteers and guard gate workers and every manner of healthy young volunteer should insist on exactly what we are not witnessing.

I see day after day those in their seventies and eighties and beyond running errands around the stores grabbing milk and toilet paper.

I see withering couples with masks and gloves.

This is all insanity. Is our social fabric in such tatters that the aged must fend for themselves getting dinner and the young are locked up indoors?

The young should be working and in school and helping. The healthy and youthful should be at their jobs and running the country. We should be open for business.

The statistics do not lie: those who are susceptible should stay at home and avoid all contact. They should be cared for by the rest of the nation. That is the social support and network needed.

But to stick everyone indoors after it is really too late to stop the spread anyway is unsustainable and threatens all of our lives on every level. It also encourages the worst mass cultural trait — mendacity.


What politicians do…

Every politician knows this stay-at-home thing is unsustainable and will have far worse consequences than the so-called 30,000 to 50,000 deaths that we attribute to the virus.

So what will they do? They will do what all politicians do — declare victory.

They will say the distancing is why the numbers are so much lower than they believed.

It is my hope we look past this crisis and look to follow our desire to work, to open our businesses and to not sink into a quagmire of fear and murky suppositions. We have to rapidly find a way to free the strong creative and vital energy of our nation and our youth and our workforce.

Any other path to health will lead us to a darker outcome than the pandemic. Any other path is societal insanity. Remember the maxim: In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.

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Longboat Key News

3 Responses for “Fact, fiction and fantasy spread faster than Coronavirus”

  1. les brittan says:

    I like anonymous reply, the last sentence says it all,
    1.st time I ever heard of Steve Reid , probably the last till the next spaceship lands near him.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Really Steve? It’s easy to make broad (and cynical) policy statements when you aren’t bound by by the need to have any scientific evidence underlying your arguments. Let’s see, should I look to the most prominent infectious disease specialists and economists to help guide us through this unprecidented medical/economic crisis, or the editor of the Longboat Key News. Hmm…

  3. Andrzej says:

    I like your thinking. Kids should be in school. Teachers over 55 can stay home unless tested. Anyone entering school must be tested for temperature with a scan of forhead. Similar protection test for entrance to grocery stores, libraries, etc.
    I think we could manage with reasonable protection

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