Horton Hears a Virus
In these times of distress, it is good to find places of inspiration. When putting my youngest child to bed last night, we read Horton Hears a Who, a classic by Dr. Seuss, who does a great job of building compelling stories around a moral. People commonly assume that the theme of this story is a pro-life stance due to the repeated phrase of “a person is a person no matter how small.” I have a lot of sympathy for this interpretation, but the deeper message of the story is that everybody must do their part.
If you’re not familiar with the story, I’ll summarize it for you. A village of people live on a dust speck so small that they can’t be seen and can only be heard by the sensitive ears of an elephant named Horton. The other animals of the jungle can’t hear them and ridicule Horton for being a “blame fool” that speaks to people who are not. Part of the ridicule is to destroy the dust speck by boiling it in “Beezle-Nut oil” (Seuss certainly is creative). To save the village from death, the little people must make enough noise to be heard by the other animals of the jungle. Unfortunately for them, even with the effort of everyone in the village, the animals still can’t hear them. As certain death lingers, the mayor searches the entire village for “shirkers.” After searching everywhere, the mayor finally finds one small shirker playing with a yo-yo. Once the last person does his part, they save the village when the animals finally hear their collective voice.
I highly recommend Dr. Seuss stories, not only for their creativity and vivid illustrations, but also for teaching morals without preaching to children. With the spread of coronavirus, it is imperative to remember that a lot of people are facing a similar life and death scenario. Slowing the spread of the virus requires everybody doing their part, and if the virus spreads too quickly, it is certain that people in vulnerable heath will die. Further, the virus spreads at an exponential rate, a pattern which repeats across the world. Regardless of how prepared a country is, and regardless of the capacity of its health system, outbreaks overwhelm hospitals with sick patients. When that occurs, hospitals refuse new patients, like the recent announcement in Italy to turn away people over the age of 70. And don’t misinterpret this, refusing service is not a function of a government run system. The same will happen in the US when areas surpass their capacity. This is truly a tragedy because people are dying that would normally survive with access to hospitals.
The biggest point to realize is that we are in a race for time. Eventually this virus will spread throughout the entire population. However, if that happens too quickly, millions of people will unnecessarily die. The first and obvious reason to slow the spread is access to hospitals and especially respirators. Access to N-95 masks will also take time. Before schools and large gatherings can resume, everyone that is unexposed will need a mask. Creating billions of masks won’t happen anytime soon. The search for drugs to mitigate symptoms and for a cure or vaccine will take time too, even with relaxed regulations and plenty of test subjects. Finally, the economy needs time to adjust. Just think about how unprepared schools and businesses have been to operating remotely.
Speaking of the economy, the biggest impact from the virus will almost certainly be on the economy. A global recession is virtually guaranteed, with depression likely. Whole industries are in ruin, like travel and entertainment. Personally, I’m not going on a plane or cruise until every member of my family has been vaccinated. Families will struggle too. Without steady pay checks, foreclosures will rise and credit card balances will sky rocket. Small businesses that were struggling before the pandemic, will likely go under. Even healthy businesses will go under if quarantines continue for months. Central banks have dropped interest rates to zero, with limited impact since rates were already low. Even refinancing will be difficult as borrowers’ income becomes unreliable. Central banks and governments will induce massive stimuli, likely to trigger inflation while economies shrink. Slowing the spread of the virus will save millions of lives, but with massive economic costs.
So, what can we do? Now is a time for leadership, compassion, and selflessness. Here is a list that every individual can do to help:
- If your area is under quarantine, then adhere to it as best as possible. Even if you’re young, healthy and not worried about the virus, you will likely spread it to others without even knowing. Like the little people in Horton Hears a Who, quarantines only work if every last person does their part.
- If you contract the virus, then stay home until you have fully recovered. Only go to the hospital for an emergency (see CDC’s guidelines).
- Stay away from people in general and take proper precautions when going about (again, see CDC guidelines).
- Next, have compassion for the elderly and sick (non-corona) in your area. Maybe you can help with their grocery shopping or chores. This isn’t a time of waiting for someone to do to something. Governments and charities don’t have the resources to do it for you. Put down the phone and help a person in need.
- Give blood, as blood is in short supply.
- Make a mask cover. With the shortages of masks, hospitals are using mask covers to extend the life of their masks. See the write up from PhoebeHealth for details.
- Educate others on their role in this crisis. Americans aren’t known for conformity, so help them understand why it is import to do their part.
- Show compassion for those affected by the economic crisis. Give them time to pay you back later. If you have extra money, pay somebody out of work to help around your house. Or donate time and money to a local charity, like the school lunch delivery programs in my area.
- Finally, if you are a leader, people look to you for guidance. Even if you are scared, show confidence that we will collectively make it through this crisis and be stronger for it. Whatever group you’re a leader of, connect the people in your group with the assistant they need. Do the best you can to keep your group together, while operating remotely.
ChronicCareIQ specializes in electronically connecting patients with their care team. With years of experience, we are in a unique position to help practices manage this crisis. However, our platform manages chronic disease, not pandemics. To address this crisis, our Product Development team is working overtime adding new functionality. The first round of features, including a communications protocol for COVID-19, went live this past weekend. With all employees working from home, they are available 7 days a week to help our customers and their patients prevail. We are fully committed to doing our part, and hope everyone reading this will too.