Coronavirus reflections after two months at home

The night of March 11, I settled in to enjoy my homemade spaghetti carbonara (made with eggs NOT cream) to watch the Denver Nuggets play the Dallas Mavericks. I looked up and the producers had cut to the Utah-Oklahoma City game about to tip off.

A trainer ran onto the court, whispered something in an official’s ear, and the game was halted. Utah Jazz Center, 7’3” Frenchman Rudy Gorbert tested positive for the coronavirus.

I didn’t pay attention to the game, even though in the back of my mind I was telling myself to enjoy it because I figured the season would be paused for a week or two. I didn’t think it’d be two months and counting before I’d watch another live North American professional sporting event.

The late game on the West Coast was canceled after the Sacramento Kings refused to take the floor because an NBA official who reffed a Jazz game less than a week earlier was slated to officiate. Selfishly, as a Celtics fan, the first thought that came into my mind was, “The Celtics aren’t going to be playing Giannis and the first place Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow now, are they?”

Within minutes the NBA season was postponed indefinitely, and in less than a week, life as we knew it was as well. Personally, my “March Mustache Madness” bit has turned into an apocalypse upper lip caterpillar.

New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order was issued four days later, on March 16, meaning no St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. Stay home and keep your hands washed, except to raid the nearest supermarket for its supply of toilet paper to combat this new respiratory infection.

For two months many of us have done the best we could. We made cloth masks for health care workers to save N-95 respirators for hospital clinicians. We’ve comforted the sick, the lonely, the birthday kids, the graduates with impromptu parades. We put off weddings, reuniting with family and seeing significant others. We’ve left our sick relatives to die alone in hospitals to reduce transmission risks. Nearly 40 million people are on employment due to the near-complete shuttering of the American economy.

It’s been painful for many, but it could’ve been much worse if we did nothing. We must acknowledge that.

Those critical of the number of deaths from COVID-19 compared to what national infectious disease experts originally predicted miss the mark on two major data points: The efficacy of social distancing, first and foremost, and those who died before they could be tested. Not to mention it trivializes the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people into a statistic.

The “curve” has been flattened, the hospitals were spared from being inundated. Bravo.

But as we turn our attention to enjoying something that resembles summer and try to reopen the economy, we should be mindful of the people who became gravely sick and died, but because of the inadequate supply of tests, may not be officially counted as COVID-19 deaths, according to Scientific American.

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Was the nation’s response effective or coherent? Not exactly.

If the American public began home isolation and social distancing just one week earlier, 36,000 fewer people would have died, according to a study by Columbia University. I imagine the surviving family members of those 36,000 people don’t want to hear about not hitting a worst-case scenario projection.

Their worst-case scenario happened. Their loved one is dead, and it was because we collectively underestimated the threat the novel coronavirus posed. Including the president who said as late as March 10 after meeting with Republican senators, “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Kelly Loeffler R-Ga., James Inhofe R-Okla., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Susan Davis D-Calif., all happened to have the foresight to dump more than $1 million worth of stock in some instances, as government officials assured us the coronavirus was no biggie throughout January and February. I hold out some hope our parent company will start paying in stock options someday. It might be a fool’s errand, but I am an optimist. If that day comes, I wonder if their constituent services can put me in touch with their brokers. They have to be good, right?

According to New Hampshire DHHS, 57,798 people have been tested as of Friday, 4.3% of the state’s 1.34 million population. Now we are being confronted with the decision to step onto the boat back to economic recovery, but we are only able to see 4% of the iceberg. We have nothing but our collective faith that our prosperity will look remotely like it did March 10.

I’m trying to readjust a bit of focus onto trivial matters to keep some sense of levity. I was up $125 for my $20 deposit on the Draft Kings Sports Book before the world was turned upside down. Now the thought of having sporting events again seems kind of pointless, something I never thought I’d utter in my lifetime, let alone gamble on them. I think my childhood hero, Michael Jordan killed that urge after I watched “The Last Dance.”

Two months we’ve been cooped up. It seems like two years, right? It’s summer now and we want to be outside together. But now our physical well-being is taking a much bigger gamble than any of MJ’s six-figure-plus golf rounds, and it is perhaps the only realistic and sober assessment to evaluate where we are today.

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