The frustrating thing for me during this moment of time that we’re in is that I don’t think it’s quite sunk in to some folks that this virus doesn’t care about politics, or the economy, or in fact any human concern at all. It doesn’t care about anything. It just wants to spread, and will take any opportunity it is given to do so, to rich or poor, conservative or liberal, to any person regardless of their situation or circumstance or makeup.
And it’s really good at spreading — better at it than flu or many other communicable diseases — and it’s really good at hurting people. Right now we think its mortality rate is slightly above 1%, but I think equally important is that we estimate 19% of the people who get it will need to be hospitalized. That’s pain and fear and money and weeks if not months lost to recovery. Much of that avoidable, if people remember that this virus doesn’t care about politics, or the economy, or any human concern at all. It just wants to spread.
Now, let me speak of a particular human concern. I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars (and, uh, possibly more) in the stock market in the last few weeks. I certainly understand how people might panic to look at it. I also know that historically speaking, the market will recover in time, as it did in ’87, and in ’08. It’s a good bet that if I’m patient I will see that money again.
If we rush to put this virus on a timetable that it cannot and will not honor, we will kill and hurt people who do not need to be hurt, and who do not need to die. I will see my stock market gains again, in time. I won’t see the dead again. They’ll be gone forever and every future moment any of us could have had with them lost.
It won’t just be the old, although that would be bad enough. Young people are dying of this too. People who are immunocompromised are dying, and so are people who were thought to be perfectly healthy. The virus doesn’t care who you are, what you want or what you believe. It doesn’t care who you will miss, or who will miss you. It doesn’t care that those lost will never be seen again.
The only weapons we have against this virus right now — the only weapons — are distance and patience. Right now we’re practicing the former, but we’re fighting against the latter, in ways both small and large. This virus doesn’t care if you’re patient or impatient. But if you’re the latter, it will take advantage of that to get to you, and it will use you to get to others. Please be as patient as you can, for as long as you can. It matters for you, and for the people you care about.
I understand some of you reading this will want to make political arguments, or argue about what we know about the virus, or (in the US, at least) make the very real point that money is running out for so many of us. Your points may be good, or they may not be, but I’m not going to argue any of them with you right now. I will simply remind you of what I said at the beginning: This virus doesn’t care about politics, or the economy, or any human concern at all. It just wants to spread. That’s it. That’s all. It will, if you let it. And won’t, if you don’t.