A Few Words on the COVID-19 Pandemic

W.J. Astore

COVID-19 is now a pandemic, and each day brings news of cancellations and changes in an attempt to curb its spread, or to slow the rate at which it spreads.

First off, I’m not a medical doctor, but I think I understand the gist of the approach, as represented by this graphic:


If everyone gets sick at once, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed.  But if we take protective measures and slow the rate of transmission, our healthcare system should be able to cope.

What are some of these protective measures?

  1. “Social distancing”: Avoiding crowds and the like.  We see this as schools close and put classes online, the NBA suspends its season, etc.
  2. Quarantine for those who test positive for COVID-19.
  3. Helping to prevent transmission by washing hands vigorously with soap and hot water for 20 seconds and avoiding touching one’s face and eyes.
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes.
  5. Clean and disinfect surfaces.
  6. Wearing a face mask if you believe you are sick.

The chart below may be useful in recognizing the symptoms and knowing the difference between COVID-19 versus regular flu and the common cold.  But always defer to your doctor/health care practitioner:


The best site for news on the virus is the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at cdc.gov.  For example, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html for tips on how to prevent the transmission of the virus.

The CDC site has many useful tips, including what to do if you are sick:


It’s important to stay informed and to follow the advice of health experts.

17 thoughts on “A Few Words on the COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. Once again…you provide a good well-reasoned bit of worthwhile information that we should all know about… And I thank you.


      1. A Loose Association or Two. Maybe Three.
        As has been noted from time to time, I’m spending my emeritus years in The Land of Fine Chocolate, Wooden Shoes & Windmills, where the two most popular sources of information on the US are CNN and – yes – Fox. As the token American hereabouts, every so often I am called upon by friends to expound on “the finer points” of what someone on TV meant (“English as a Second Language” doesn’t prepare you for nuance, let alone stupidity & lies) and to remind folks that their take on American society/culture/politics/history is somewhat skewed, much as the British take has always been. Watching “House,” “Gray’s Anatomy,” the new “Hawaii Five-O,” and “E.R.” (with or without George Clooney) augmented by films starring Adam Sandler/Jennifer Anniston/Sandra Bullock doesn’t give the insight one might think.
        So it was that yesterday I was asked by my Dutch sweetheart to explain how the spread of the current unpleasantness in my beloved Home of Bob Seger, Drag Racing & Fried Lake Perch on Fridays (an old-time Chicago-area Catholic thing) could be attributed to Europeans and result in travel bans to The Continent but not to England. “They’re Europeans,” she said.
        Ah, poor misguided child. “No, they aren’t. Just ask them. They’ve never considered themselves part of Europe. And Trump has declared it’s ‘a foreign virus.’ So, the British are okay because they aren’t foreigners.”
        “How can that be?” she asked.
        “Because they speak English. In Trump’s mind, people whose native language is English aren’t foreigners. I’m pretty sure he’s of the belief that the world is meant to be ruled by the U.S. with the U.K. as a very junior partner. I’ve nothing to back this up, of course, but …”
        “That’s crazy.”
        “Yes. Would you like another cup of coffee?”

        Mike Pence off the ticket? Yes, that would make sense. Talk about the perfect cut-out man/fall guy. “I never asked you to do anything except take care of this virus thing and you didn’t do it.” And adding Miz Haley – who is already onboard with ATT (“All Things Trump”) would help counter any claims of Republican/Presidential misogyny.
        “Your Worst Nightmare” Scenario: the GOP ticket in November is Trump/Trump, Daddy & daughter.

        Finally, a friend of long-standing (back to the 2nd grade) who still lives in The Calumet Region and is a die-hard conservative/Trump supporter, has asked if everyone here is caught up in the “covid-19 hysteria.”
        “Well, all of Italy has been quarantined. They’re starting to drop like flies, apparently. 196 more since yesterday. And Jolanda & I have cancelled our trip to Malta.”
        “Why did you do that?”
        “Because probably the last place I want to be right now is stuffed into a budget jet with a couple hundred people for 3 hours, then do it again in 4 days.”
        “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. It’s not as bad as people are making it out to be. Anyway, how old were those people in Italy who died?”
        “I don’t know. The point is, they aren’t getting any older.”
        To add insult to injury, no March Madness, no NBA, delayed Spring Training in baseball … and no toilet paper. Truly, the end of the world, a global hoax perpetrated by Democrats and supported by Europeans.
        Would this be a good time for “thoughts and prayers”?


        1. I’ve heard Mike Pence called “Pastor Pray-the=gay-away” Pence. So surely he’s the right man for the job.

          Perhaps he’ll see this as another “End Times” sign …


        2. What if the UK was excluded from the travel ban because that’s where the T’s golf resorts are ? Who’d be going there, if their owner of all people had described their environment as an exceptionally dangerous health risk ?
          And the T. needing the Boris to force ‘amazing’ trade deals upon him, including supplying him with chlorinated chickens and other horrors which the rest of Europe refuses ?
          I’m not sure, but though I heard somewhere that the Ukraine also is excluded.
          If indeed, surprise, surprise …


  2. As I understand it, the problem with this new strain is how easily it is spread by “airborne droplets” launched by a sneeze or a cough. Mortality rate reportedly lower than most flu strains. I imagine it won’t survive the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. As a well-conditioned ex-Army Medic I am always conscientious about washing my hands. But it’s the sneezing and coughing one should beware of! Distance yourself from anyone engaging in that activity! And BTW, if Pence gets dumped from the ticket I will “almost” eat my hat! I think this idea was launched by some Op-Ed columnist and I don’t buy it for a moment. (But, believe it or not, I recognize that I could be wrong!)


  3. MIT research : “The contagious coronavirus survived longest on plastic and stainless steel. So far, however, there is no definitive proof the virus is actually spread via inanimate objects.” https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615348/heres-how-long-the-coronavirus-can-stay-in-the-air-and-on-packages/? Pelosi missing the point as usual talking about people worrying about themselves and their kids. Kids are the least vulnerable (but do transmit it), people worry about their parents and otherwise sick family members.


    1. I do not know in what context Ms Pelosi was referring to people being worried about themselves and their children. And I do not know who you referred to as “people”. 40% of Americans do not have liquid assets. The hourly or daily wage earners do not have any income if they can not or are not allowed to go to work. How will they put food on the table for their families? Food stamp budget is slashed. If the schools are closed, their children will not get meals. With no day care provided by the govt or work place, they will have to stay home even if they can go to work. They are facing a very hard time. May be Ms Pelosi had these people on her mind. If I may, a great book to read “Toxic Inequality” by Thomas Shapiro.


      1. I absolutely agree with your mention of the dire situation of the working families. I doubt though whether that is Ms Pelosi’s biggest worry in this time of crisis…


  4. My daughter called me, my grandchildren schools are closing for 30 days. I can help with being the daycare. She still has to work. Her co-workers are in a panic as not all have a family member who can babysit. Day Care for pre-schoolers are closing.

    Disney is closing, tourism industry is taking a huge hit.

    The damage to the economy must easily be exceeding 9/11.

    People are hoarding already.

    As a nation we should see with crystal clarity that the Socialism that Bernie Sanders advocates for would allow people to have a bumpy landing rather than our Steroid Capitalism System, which has a crash landing. Well a crash landing for us Proles.


  5. Write It Down: This will be Trump’s excuse to postpone the November elections and stay in office … “It’s a national emergency and my country needs me. Only I can save it …”


  6. It is just shocking the way this catastrophe is unfolding. USA has NIH with amazing experts in infectious diseases and CDC which are envy of the world but with the ignoramous in the White House, the country is in a mess.
    And the Republicans are willing to overlook waste of millions in Pentagon bureaucracy but when it comes to passing a bill to fund relief for families suffering as a result of lost wages, they want to “fix” the bureaucracy before taking up the bill!!
    “Exceptional” nation indeed.


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