COVID-19 and Me (Not Sick)

March 12, 2020

COVID-19 and Me (Not Sick)


Mark Rubin

I’m not sick, as far as I know. But it’s not like I can go somewhere and get tested easily!

I can rant and rant and do it more and more about how our government disses public health, and about the schtunk with the title in the Big White House, but it gets me nowhere. I can, however, act, and I have.

On Monday I saw an article on the Internet – it’s gone missing – which quoted Nancy Messonnier, M.D., telling older people and people with serious health conditions they should stay home. Dr. Messonnier? She’s the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Someone I think I should listen to! (Not so much, everyone. Dr. Messonnier has a lawyer brother named Rod Rosenstein, which was enough for Rush Limbaugh to totally discount Dr. Messonnier’s advice. The stupid reeks, and maybe a rant or two takes the edge off.)

So, older people? 60+ – per everything I read – and I happen to be 62. But, I’m a healthy 62. Remember, I walked 16 San Francisco miles in about five hours less than a month ago. And I’m a “never gonna get older” Boomer, right? Protestations aside I am as old as I am. And my government says Stay Home.

In fact, only a part of my government says Stay Home. Earlier in the week I heard a local official on the radio advising everyone to go about their business unless they’re sick. Which? For me, public health rocks, and if public health officials in Washington tell me I need to stay home, their view wins out.

I have had an ongoing dialogue with a friend, in his early 70s, whose views on the outbreak have been more relaxed than mine. He suggested, the other day, that I might be choosing the DC view because it’s the view I prefer. Without doubt, we all elevate those people with whom we agree, as well as what we agree with. That said, those people who work in public health know what we need to do, collectively, to minimize the bad outcomes here. They don’t focus on the economy or spend their time trashing science and those who count on science to protect them. (Getting less edgy by the paragraph!)

In the end – and I made my decision on Monday, but I’ve been too busy to write this post – I’m isolating myself because I can. My lay understanding of a viral outbreak tells me less contact reduces the likelihood that I will get COVID-19 or transmit it if I do get it. To reduce human contact, for me, means staying away from the office, co-workers, clients, court personnel, etc.

So, I’m moving myself and my tech needs to an unused part of my house. But for a few short trials coming up, I expect to handle all court appearances by telephone. I will meet with people in person but will push for phone meetings. (Yes, stuff gets lost in translation, but I’ve dealt with people for decades who I rarely see personally. It works!) And I expect to be reducing my restaurant and bar bills! I won’t be solitary, completely, but if I can reduce my human contact by 80-90%, I like the odds.

I’m blessed, because our staff rises to the occasion. When I call in, I get “how can I help,” and it’s that attitude – with the help that follows – which gives me this option. In addition, while I’m sure my partner thinks I might be overreacting just a bit, she cares enough to have given each of us our own bottle of handmade hand sanitizer (after she had no success on the Internet, trying to buy some.) And she will surely be stepping up, as I make myself less present.

Of course, I might be overreacting. I don’t think so, but I will be delighted if I find, in the coming weeks that COVID-19 only sickened and killed small numbers of people.

One more thing! If this crisis doesn’t tell us everything we need to know about the impact of trashing “it takes a village” thinking, nothing will. Anti-communitarianism didn’t give us COVID-19, but it has surely made protecting us from it much, much harder.



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