Photo | Alan Sealls
That’s a bad thought — that there’s a hurricane named Corona. In a sense, there is. These last few weeks have been a lot like hearing that a Category 5 was in the Caribbean, devastating countries and seemingly on a track to us. Days later, you heard that the arrival was certain, and you were advised to prepare. When it arrived, you were told to hunker down. The coronavirus impact has a lot in common with the impact of a hurricane.
By the way, corona is defined as something with a crown-like structure, or as the glow around bright objects. You’ve heard me use the word on TV, describing the glow of fuzzy color around a bright moon when we have middle-level clouds. That’s the picture (above). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the coronavirus was so-named because, under a microscope, individual virions have a corona.
Like a hurricane, there’s coronavirus misinformation, speculation and pontification on social media and from the loud-talking non-experts standing six feet in front of you at the store. Just like with a hurricane, we see government leaders in daily press conferences with their support agencies behind them. The message is the same: Prepare. Don’t panic. Use common sense.
In a hurricane, we hear criteria like a hurricane warning stopping at the state line. Does that mean the impact of the storm will be total on one side of the line and zero on the other? No. Those lines are general boundaries based on geographical markers that people understand.
If you are told to stay six feet away from someone to limit the spread of a virus, does that mean if you are six feet, one inch away you are safe, but at five feet, 11 inches away you are certain to contract a virus? No, six feet is a rough number. Follow the advice of the ‘80s hit from The Police: “Don’t stand so close to me.”
As during a hurricane, trust the experts. Respect the doctors and medical officials who have dedicated their lives and professions to health and safety.
Just like with a hurricane, where I cannot tell you exactly how long it will sit in one spot, or what it will do to your house, medical professionals cannot tell you those things for the coronavirus. This particular virus has never happened before and none has spread as fast as far in modern history; it has moved in spurts at 500 mph via air travel.
Like a major hurricane can spawn a new generation of meteorologists, my hope is that this pandemic will inspire young people to pursue science, biology, epidemiology and find vaccines and cures. We hope to never live through another pandemic, but the present and history have shown us that they do happen.
Finally, this unprecedented pandemic is like a hurricane in that it has shut down society for an unknown length of time. It requires patience and a positive attitude. People are helping people (from a distance). Hopefully, most of us will get through this without major medical issues. While families, businesses and countries will take huge financial blows, we will come out better prepared for the next one — smarter and stronger.
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