"Since many weeks, epidemiologists around the world had been looking at the COVID situation with great worry." The world has gone from denial to panic to resignation.
On this day, one year ago, most of us were not particularly worrying about catching anything, not even while surrounded by people during a classroom lecture or a carnival procession. How the times have changed!
(Image above: WebGL Globe adapted by Alexander Nieddu with data from CSSE at Johns Hopkins University)
This lovely note showed up in one of my channels this morning, expressing words I can only try to repeat and amplify:
I would like to start this week by asking how everyone is doing and offering any support I can if you're struggling with feeling lonely or ineffective. Your health - physical and mental - is incredibly important, as is the health of our global community. So please stay home as much as you can, avoid spending time in groups in person (you're always welcome here!) and make sure you have some local contacts who can bring you food and other necessities if you feel unwell.
I'll keep it anonymous, but if you see this and you know who this is or this is you: thank you! To better understand why we have to quickly adopt drastic measures of social distancing around the world, try this simulator by Harry Stevens & team at the Washington Post:
Visit my forum posts for more examples, tips and data sources.
The last days have been a learning experience in the testing of all our systems of wide-scale, coordinated change. Watching the globe light up with this furious pandemic has been an awe-inspiring display. As @marcelsalathe writes in his personal reflections, it has been an enormous fight to get the message across any faster:
What a time we live in. Since many weeks, epidemiologists around the world had been looking at the COVID situation with great worry. As the story became bigger and bigger, some of us were sharing our thoughts both with decision makers and in the media, and were promptly called alarmists. But that's past, and water under the bridge. ––Marcel Salathé
While we debate how to maintain an at least 2 meter distance to the next persion, how to keep (focusing on) our jobs and ground our anxieties, the Coronavirus continues to baffle us - the slow spread in Africa, an apparent fondness for the 40th parallel.
Our information networks are so saturated with COVID-19 updates and fake news - it is a real challenge to find a way to briefly change the subject. But among the stories of exhaustion, blame and collapse there are many stories of courage, gratitude and spirit.
Do you remember your first conversations with family, friends, colleagues? The dismissive remarks about how quickly this will be contained, how it's someone else's problem to worry about. Well, here we are: getting quickly used to a very different reality.
Contrast the images of emptied cities, to how we used to socialize. Life will likely never be quite the same again, as we become more resilient and cooperative.
Don't change the subject. Make the most of it, decide what is meaningful, make a commitment at this historic time. Get ready to do everything over the wire. Planning. Teaching. Preaching. Selling. And most of all, get ready to be sick. Get ready to recover. Get ready to help take care of sick family members, support your neighbours and calls for help from your community, even your local health or police force which may well end up fighting wildfires in the weeks ahead.
Few of us here in Europe will be spared of the costs and pains. But we are going to stay strong and kick the Coronavirus together.
Practice your hygiene and be patient. Hang in there! Physical distancing does not mean social distancing. If you're feeling ill, stressing out, or just want to hear a human voice, reach out. Call a friend. Talk about it. Tweet me. We'll jazz out and make the most of the time.