In a pandemic world, we are finding that in an instant, everything can change.
How we talk. The decisions we’re forced to make. When, where, how and if we work.
None of it is like it was yesterday.
Our vocabulary is now littered with disaster jargon. The words of the day are “hot zones,” “lockdowns,” “social distancing” and “quarantines.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state has the largest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., said he created a “containment zone.” Some words — such as “asymptomatic” — have us scrambling for a dictionary, and then wondering why our scientists cannot just say, “Someone is not showing symptoms.”
Closing schools, canceling March Madness, telling people they cannot go to church, get a hair cut or eat inside restaurants — those are easy decisions compared to the ethical dilemmas that health officials soon may face.
For hospitals, is it first-come, first-served should they need to allocate intensive-care beds?
For doctors, do they pull one patient with a limited chance of survival off a ventilator to give it to another with better odds? If they can only treat one of two patients who have equal medical needs and the likelihood of recovery, do they pick the youngest or the one with more dependents?
How about police officers, firefighters and doctors or nurses: Should they get preferential treatment if they become sick?
Such agonizing decisions are already being made in Italy, where the death toll from the coronavirus is quickly approaching 5,000. The same decisions may soon face the state of New York, which needs 50,000 extra hospital beds, according to its governor.
Regardless of whether it’s the medical field, business world or the education field, every decision being made has side effects.
The nation’s blood drives are suffering from all the closings. About 4,000 blood drives have been canceled across the United States, taking 130,000 pints of blood out of the supply that would normally have been available.
Uncle Sam may be your favorite uncle in a few weeks, as the government plans to hand out checks to taxpayers that could be as much as $1,200. But if we’re still under quarantine, does this money get spent at small businesses to stimulate the economy as intended? Or does the big pig, Amazon, likely enjoy a feeding frenzy at the expense of Main Street?
And then there are the numbers:
In Ohio, more than 48,000 people applied for jobless benefits during the first two days of last week. The tally during the same period the prior week: just 1,825.
For all the men with attitudes of “this won’t happen to me,” take note: A report from Italy shows men in nearly every age bracket are dying at higher rates than women.
It is going to get tougher in the next few weeks.
By our nature, most of us have a limit to our patience. Human beings are social animals, after all. We are going to be tested on how long we can keep ourselves zipped up behind closed doors.
We have to do it, though. As one person after another has said, “We’re fighting a war.”
ROSES AND THORNS: Safety comes first in the rose garden.
Rose: To Mike Binkley, of Lima, and Bradley Fruchey, of Bluffton. They joined the UPS drivers’ “Circle of Honor” for going 25 years without an accident.
Rose: To Stefanie Holtz, the owner of Lucky Steer in Wapakoneta. She has gained national recognition for her Facebook offer of free meals, or 40% discounts, to truck drivers on Interstate 75. The truckers are told there is plenty of room to park their rigs in the Lucky Steer lot. Some Auglaize County residents who have heard what she’s doing have donated meals of their own.
Rose: As of Friday, there have been no reports of unscrupulous business practices reported in the Lima region, said Cheryl Parsons, president of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio.
Rose: Mark the month of December on your calendar. That will be nine months after the self-quarantine, which means “baby boom” time.
Thorn: Among the customers rushing to make purchases at area gun stores were people who never have owned a gun, shot a gun or have taken a gun-safety course.
PARTING SHOT: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run …” — lyrics in the song “The Gambler,” by Kenny Rogers, who died late Friday at age 81.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.