Flatten The Curve Now
A Desperate Call to the (mostly) Younger Generation
*If you read nothing else. Read the link I provide at the end of the article. I did not write it…. someone with a breadth of knowledge far greater than mine wrote the article attached in the link.*
Dear Spring Breakers, Millennials, and People who Haven’t Been Taking COVID-19 Seriously:
I know that things have been confusing lately.
I know that the president and others have been downplaying the coronavirus for months, and then suddenly, recently took a different stance. I know that misinformation has spread like wildfire and maybe you didn’t know who to trust or what to believe. I know that you likely have never lived through an event that impacts the entire world to the degree this does, so you couldn’t truly understand the magnitude. I know that you’ve lived a largely privileged life up until this point (I know I have), which has allowed you to come and go as you please, partake in social issues when they are convenient, and place your own personal desires as top priority.
And I know you haven’t been taking the Coronavirus and its global impact seriously up until this point.
But now we know better. So now, it’s our moral and civic duty as caring, thoughtful, considerate, and intelligent humans to do better.
It’s time to stop downplaying the coronavirus, let go of those disproven beliefs, and do your part to…
Flatten The Curve BY ACTING NOW!
What Does it Mean to Flatten the Curve?
Flattening the curve is a phrase used to describe reducing the drastic increase of Coronavirus cases in a short amount of time. The phrase was drafted in reference to a graph representation of the spike in coronavirus cases and how it will overwhelm the healthcare system if it continues.
See this explanation from Thomas Jefferson University health policy professor Drew Harris.
In short, if people keep contributing to the spread of the virus by continuing to keep in social contact with others and being generally unsanitary, then the hospitals will become overwhelmed… there won’t be enough hospital beds to take care of people. There won’t be enough respirators to help people breathe. And that ultimately means a whole slew of things including: doctors being forced to make really tough decisions on whose lives to save. 2
And all of this can be drastically mitigated if we flatten the curve (as shown above) by reducing the immediate number of coronavirus cases. And the way we do that is by practicing social distancing and being hyper sanitary if we must, for any essential reason, be out of our houses.
This means not going to parties. This means not meeting with friends for drinks. This means not doing anything social that is nonessential. And all of this means inconveniencing yourself to a degree you may have never had to before.
The coronavirus is already pervasive and spreading, silently, like wildfire. Some studies have estimated that somewhere around 20% of people who spread the virus are asymptomatic and don’t know they have it.1 They are just simply vectors… spring-break-party-attending, going-about-their-business-per-usual, no-symptom-displaying, vectors…. Passing their coronavirus seed to others unknowingly.
So while you may personally feel fine, that’s nice for you. Really it is. But it doesn’t matter at all when it comes to a silently spread and very contagious virus.
Italy is a Snapshot Into our Future
Image courtesy of NBC News.
You still with me? So while it may feel like a great inconvenience not to hangout in person with friends and have social fun the way you are used to, it could really change the trajectory of where the coronavirus winds up and ultimately? It could really save millions of lives. You could save millions of lives by simply reducing social contact for a while. By simply inconveniencing yourself comparatively very little.
And I know… it won’t be easy. When I was in the pinnacle of my adolescence, partying and flitting around like a social butterfly, being out in public was the beacon of everything important to me. So I understand the inconvenience factor.
And I know, going out to Hurricane’s in Huntington Beach, taking a bottle to the neck, and making out with strangers weekly… is very important to you. No shade thrown here, I truly understand that. But it’s time to step up to the plate and do the right thing by staying your ass at home. Period. You can still talk to strangers online! People do it every day.. And some of those people actually get married to those strangers and wind up living very happy lives. Check out the apps you already have on your phone and get to texting!
People’s lives really depend on it.
But back to Italy. What does Italy have to do with all of this? As it stands now, they are a snapshot into our future. Actually, they are a much better looking snapshot of what we might be if we stay on the same trajectory with the rising number of coronaviruses.
I cover this more in depth in a previous article and podcast, but this is what we are seeing in Italy now: their healthcare system has become overwhelmed by the growing number of cases. Nurses are crashing on their shifts, makeshift beds are being formed on the ground of tents to help people, and the lack of respirators is spiking the death toll, while forcing doctors to make emotionally challenging decisions on who to save.
Politico EU reported, “In an interview that went viral after it was published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera Monday, Christian Salaroli, an anesthesiologist from a hospital in Bergamo, recounted scenes of wartime triage, where old patients have to be left by the wayside.
‘The choice is made inside of an emergency room used for mass events, where only COVID-19 patients enter. If a person is between 80 and 95 and has severe respiratory failure, he probably won’t make it.'”
Really think about the impact that may be having on others. Sure, you may not get sick, you might just be a vector. But if you do get sick… and (whether or not you spread it to people) you end up in the hospital…. If the same thing were to happen to the US that is happening with Italy.. You would likely be saved at the expense of others.
And that doesn’t sit well with me. Especially if you weren’t taking things seriously beforehand.
Cases of Coronavirus in the U.S Today
Image courtesy of NPR.
In the US, as of today, we have 7,715 active, reported, and confirmed cases.
The first case in the US was reported on January 21, 2020 in Washington State. Now, roughly two months later, we have had a total of 7,715 active cases (excluding those who have recovered and EXCLUDING those that haven’t been reported).
Image courtesy of NPR.
The best time to take active steps and precautions was 3 months ago. The second best time is now.
“Stop Fear-Mongering… Everyone is Freaking Out For Like.. No Reason. Just Chill!”
*Inserts Toilet Paper Meme*
It’s not about fear-mongering or inducing panic. It’s about being educated, aware, and understanding the broad scope of what happens during a pandemic of this nature. It’s about understanding the impact of quick, well-informed, thoughtful reactions/actions that follow. It’s NOT about giving in to hysteria and apocalyptic purchasing behaviors. But it’s also NOT about contributing to the downplay of a very real global economic and public health threat.
So while it may feel empowering to be facetious and complacent, saying things like “omgz this whole thing is so dumb. Lyke it’s just like the flu and it’ll end soon so I’m going to keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing and all of y’all are going to feel so dumb when it does… and I’m going to feel totally validated…”
Not only is it potentially hazardous for the rest of us that exist alongside you in this society… but It’s really setting you up for a problem. Psychologically. You are experiencing a very real, very studied, and (socially) very problematic psychological concept called Cognitive Dissonance. Because that’s simply incorrect.
Now we have evidence that it’s not “just like the flu.”
Now we have evidence that it’s spreading at alarming rates.
Now we have evidence (through examples of other countries who have been hit respectively much harder than us… who are facing tremendous pressures placed on their healthcare systems ranging from lack of ventilators to help people who have contracted COVID19 and are having respiratory problems, unable to breathe on their own, to lack of hospital beds, and locations to host these people… to the nurses themselves being exhausted, to a lack of test kits, protection… to etc etc etc.)
You guys… it’s deeper than hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
The examples of other countries could be a snapshot of our future if we don’t pay attention and start distancing ourselves socially, taking proper precautions, and siding with evidence… siding with facts.
And if you either don’t want to or don’t have the ability to process things cognitively… Then it’s your responsibility to seek out sources that are credible. And it’s your responsibility to think about what you say, post, or share BEFORE you share it… because it has an impact.
And it’s OUR responsibility to check those who are spreading misinformation or minimizing something that is a giant economic/health threat to ourselves, our community, our country, and our world. (Which can suck sometimes because arguing on social media can feel like a giant time suck only to have people disregard the facts and evidence we supply them with). I haven’t mastered the art of figuring out how to get to people who are deeply rooted in irrational beliefs to see the light. But in the meantime, I’m going to continue doing my part by trying to stay respectful and spread facts as best I can. Cite sources and check people who are out of line (lovingly and respectfully… but sometimes with blunt communication)
*I reserve the right to laugh while simultaneously having massive amounts of respect for her ingenuity, impeccable style, and overall hyper sanitary way of operating. That’s that ish I like!*
So while it may psychologically help people to cope with reality by minimizing and factiously poking fun at this very real issue, and by spreading questionable information from unreliable sources as though they are fact… It’s an unhealthy and unsustainable way of living. On both macro and micro levels.
The “blessing” and curse about social media is that it’s currently designed to surround us in this relatively safe bubble of people who “are like us”… think like us, share the same interests, political views, etc. But that can be problematic. Because then we become insulated and it feeds this idea that “everyone feels like us.” It emboldens us to feel like we are right… even when we are, in fact, wrong.
What’s scarier? The spread of misinformation. Combine all of these things and we’ve got ourselves a proper maelstrom.
Simply: our actions affect one another ESPECIALLY during this time. It’s your civic and moral duty to pay attention and seek facts. It’s your civic and moral duty to protect the most vulnerable of our society by examining your role in all of this.
And it’s your civic and moral duty to not be a harm to society.
If this article (Click here) and the studies laid out in it, don’t disprove any comments downplaying the imperativeness of paying attention now (ie: “flattening the curve”) vs later?
Then likely nothing will.
Cognitive Dissonance is alive and well in times like these, unfortunately.
Resist the urge to be rooted in disproven beliefs… it never works out well in the end. We have a trove of anecdotal evidence in support of this.
Here’s My Final Request
Stay educated. Stay informed. Seek facts. Don’t panic. But also don’t be rooted in selfish complacency and ignorance. Please.
Yes, I know it’s… annoying? frustrating? confusing? maybe even scary? …that you can’t find hand sanitizer at the store, or medicine, or even supplies for your child. It’s problematic in more ways than just what we personally feel right now. It goes deeper. And myopia seems to be a big problem for us as members of this society. Many of us only see what’s right in front of us, maybe because we either lack the desire or capability to understand the far-reaching effects. And that’s dangerous indeed.
We don’t need to be running around with our hair on fire buying 70 packs of toilet paper. But we do need to pay attention and alter our behaviors. Things are not the same. We shouldn’t be behaving as they are.
If you feel as though the novel coronavirus is “nothing’ or that people are “freaking out” for no reason, I challenge you to really consider what motivates those beliefs. What is motivating you to say or hold onto those disproven beliefs?
Would any amount of evidence convince you to change your stance?
Being perceived as “wrong” sucks. We’ve all been wrong before. But it happens. We are human. The real power, the real strength, comes from being able to admit when you have been wrong. That’s that type of deeply ingrained confidence and self-love that we all respect. And guess what, that’s what you respect too.
But please, make the adjustment now. Because the deeper you become attached to your disproven belief, the more challenging it becomes to peel yourself away from it. The harder it becomes to say, “Damn, my bad you guys. I didn’t realize what was going on because (X) and I was wrong. Let’s be cautious about this thing and hopefully we can all have COVID19 “blow on by” as Neil Degrasse Tyson said.
(By the way, I DON’T BLAME YOU… with the confusing rhetoric of government offices, TRUMP, and many, many others over the months, it’s no wonder so many of us thought it was just a fart in the wind. We were misled by people like Trump, Guiliani, and Carson. And that sucks… But now we know better. So now we let go of those beliefs and accept reality as it is)
You have the ability to be a hero. No bullshit. No hyperbole. You really do. You have the ability to change the trajectory of this virus and how many people are killed by it.
You have the ability to really make a change.
But you have to act now. Every moment, hour, and day you wait, closes the window of opportunity drastically more.
Let’s see how impactful we can be as a generation of thoughtful, intelligent, and community-driven people.
PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING NOW AND STAY YOUR BUTT AT HOME.
Not tomorrow. Not next week. now. Look, you can come up with excuses as to why you don’t want to. And you can present very real cases for why it’s going to present a hardship on you (likely financially)… but the downside of not taking action now, will be felt far greater than you will experience now. This isn’t some shit your boss is pulling at your company that takes advantage of you… this is a global pandemic. Top scientists, immunologists, and experts are the ones suggesting to do distance yourself and be sanitary. The president declared a national state of emergency. We are all in this thing. So if you are concerned about your financial well-being… we need to pay attention to what’s happening at a congressional level. What are they doing to address these very real concerns? Are they preparing relief packages to help small businesses and people who are being immediately impacted financially by this? If not, then it’s up to US to deliver the messages to THEM that… we need relief… not the ones at the top. Us. But without that… things will continue to be the way they are and people will continue pointing their fingers in the wrong directions.
BE HYPER VIGILANT ABOUT BEING SANITARY.
To me this means: Cleaning the gas pump before you touch it. Cleaning the keypad where you enter your card information, (it’s fine if you don’t have hand sanitizer, you can make an Isopropyl alcohol “spray” with water, isopropyl (70% or higher), and essential oil). You can create a cleaning solution per the CDC of bleach and water (and obviously take all of the normal precautions when using bleach including never mixing chemicals and having good ventilation etc)
STAY INFORMED AND LOVINGLY CHECK PEOPLE WHO ARE PROPONENTS OF MISINFORMATION.
Yes, I know. It sucks but we have to do it. And this doesn’t mean shaming and condemning those on Facebook about how ridiculous they are being. Unfortunately this doesn’t help people “see the light.” There’s a thing called “The Backfire Effect” that actually makes people double down on their irrational or disproven beliefs because they don’t want to be humiliated or feel “wrong.” Especially in front of a digital crowd. So check people, lovingly. Try phrases like “have you considered X?” And things of that nature.
Trust me guys… I don’t want to be taking so much of my time and energy to be trying to convince others of the very real threats that the coronavirus poses… day after day… either but, here we are.
Also, please read this article for all of the important charts.
We have the power.
Ultimately we have the power and ability to control the trajectory of this coronavirus. Viruses can’t reproduce on their own. That’s the nature of being a virus. Oddly enough they lack the ability to reproduce without a host… that’s one of the definitions of a virus. So we really do have the power.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “I think we’re in the middle of a massive experiment worldwide. The experiment is: Will people listen to scientists? In this case, medical professionals. It’d be interesting if we all paid attention to what scientists say, maybe the virus will just blow on by, with a minimum of cases, and then we kicked its ass, for obeying the recommendation of science on how to minimize your chances of getting it.”
The choice is ours my friend.