Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Considering the medical issues I’ve had in 2016, or maybe before that, I’ve gotten used to not going to lots of places. I usually got sick from various things because I went to school. But since I mostly worked from home and hardly interacted with people outside after I graduated, I didn’t get sick as often. I didn’t know much about immunity back then, so I was pretty surprised to find that I wasn’t getting sick as often. I usually got sick in between September through October, then December through February, and again from April through June. Some people were excellent at avoiding germs, and they’ve been able to get perfect attendance as a result. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them.
When I got sick in late 2016, though, I had to withdraw myself from society for a while and limit most of my outings except for my essential needs. That didn’t end until nearly two years later. I started going to mental health therapy beginning July 2017, and it ended one year later, in July of 2018. I had my house fitted with a central air conditioner attached to the furnace so I could get housewide relief because the year before, I could only get roomwide relief. When we got our new air conditioner, I sold the old one I got in 2015 on eBay along with a few other things. In late December, though, I got sick twice because I went out a lot, and then I got TMJ on my right side. It looked like 2019 was going to be a great year going forward, and for a while, it was. That’s how I was introduced to Catalyst, and because I was still in debt, I basically had to sell and pawn a lot of things, which I’ve been able to do thanks to NextDoor, as well as going to my local pawn shop. I also got set up with a mutual funds account with Edward Jones in May of 2018, so I used that to accumulate as much money as I could. Combined that with a few things I sold at a garage sale, I was finally able to close out all my debts in early November of that year. Unfortunately, because I closed my accounts, and because I legally changed my name, I consequently lost almost all my credit history that I’ve worked so hard to build.
I previously joined a gender-affirming choir in March of 2017, but when I wasn’t able to get them to accommodate my needs, I left. I tried again a year later, but the story was the same. When I met the current director at one of the Catalyst retreats in 2019, though, I told them about my frustrations in getting these accessibility measures put in place so that I could fully participate. They agreed to try again, and this time, it worked out well. So, when we held our winter term concert in January, almost all of us were oblivious that an epidemic was raging in most of China and a few other places.
I’ve stopped watching the news for a while, so I didn’t know anything about what was happening outside of my local area. It wasn’t until early March that I heard that Pope Francis had contracted Coronavirus, which was why he had to cancel an event, and from that day on, it quickly expanded at an alarming rate. Germs can multiply fifty million times faster than humans can reproduce.
I was in tenth grade when we had the swine flu outbreak of 2009, and I was taking classes at the local training centre for the blind during the Ebola Virus epidemic of Africa. The world previously encountered a Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, and at the time, there were only about one billion five hundred million humans roaming the planet. Almost nobody was immune to that particular strain of the virus. Whenever a new germ emerges, it is usually called a novel germ. With the #COVID19 (pronounced coh-vid) outbreak, we are seeing a repeat of what happened back then, but not with the last pandemic of 2009. Why? I’ve wondered that too, and for a while I didn’t find the answer. But through a lot of poking around on the web, as well as using what I’ve gathered in the past, I’ve concluded that the reason we continued going to school and leading a normal life was because although the Swine Flu was slightly different from the Spanish Flu in the sense of there being more than one strain of the flu, there were enough people who already built up tolerance to it. If a traveller had just arrived from a country that is ravaged by MMR or MMRV, they might infect children who have not yet been vaccinated. But fortunately, there will not be an outbreak because the majority of the people living there will have immunity to it. That is what community or herd immunity is. This is a good thing because certain people are not eligible for vaccines, but they will still get some protection when the pathogen is contained. I wonder if people who led a hermit lifestyle could avoid getting sick altogether. Then of course, you wouldn’t be immune to anything if you had to stop leading that lifestyle. We have to protect those who have compromised immune systems. This is how diseases are almost entirely eliminated or eradicated, although not completely wiped out. The chain reaction largely depends on the speed of transmission, which is based on how contageous it is. The more frequent, the more vaccines are needed. We can use formulas and models to predict the vaccination proportion within a given population. So, what makes it a lot more stealthier than some of the other viruses? Well, it’s the incubation period. That means that if you were around somebody that had it and who coughed or sneezed frequently, and you inhaled those viral particles into your body, then those particles will immediately start looking for a cell that will allow it to proliferate rapidly. In other words, infect it. That process can take a while in which time the person who has it is completely unaware that they have it, so when they cough or sneeze, they can spread the virus and not know it. When the virus has infected enough cels, the immune system will immediately see that something is wrong, so it will quickly launch an attack to destroy the virus. After the person recovers from it, they would’ve developed enough antibodies to fight off future exposure. So, why are certain viruses like HIV not transmissible like the flu, and why are there no vaccines for it? And why can our pets not get common colds, but they can get the flu from us? Usually, the immune system is strong enough to attack viruses and bacteria. HIV is one of those viruses that attacks the immune system itself, so it makes it weaker, which makes the virus stronger. The virus doesn’t infect cells in the respiratory tract, so it cannot be transmitted through airborne pathogens. It can be transmitted through internal body fluids, though, which is why there is a lot of stigma about who is likely to get it and why. But this stigma is usually based on ignorance and stupidity. Stigma occurs when people, because of fear of disease and death, lack of knowledge about how germs spread, a need to blame another human being, and general overall gossip that spread rumours and myth, people end up spreading misinformation. This leads to discrimination towards an identifiable group of people, place, or nation. To combat this, many social media apps are previewing or flagging your posts for deletion to ensure that you are using the correct terms (COVID19 and Coronavirus), and that you are always referencing the World Health Organisation and your country’s health authority’s guidance, and that you are also linking a source to back up your claims.
An example of how viruses cannot become a transmission vector between species is Feline Leukaemia, which is not to be confused with human leukaemia. Those viruses need a special cell or genetic material that is only found in cats. Since humans don’t have those cells, the virus is harmless to us. Likewise, our pets cannot get the common cold, which is actually a type of corona virus. So, it’s possible that if you do get infected, you might get a feeling of malaise. I actually think I got infected, but the symptoms were so mild that it went away in four days. Anyhow, if we got the H1M1 Influenza virus, we can transmit it to our pets, and they can become infected.
It is believed that viruses originate from three possible mechanisms such as
- Genetic elements joining together, gaining ability to move between cells
- Previously free-living paracytic organisms, or
- A precursor to life as we know it.
Because of how quickly livestock (and maybe even deadstock) is evolving, it’s very likely that new strains of viruses will develop as well, so the chance of another novel pandemic might increase unless strategic measures are set in place.
Everyone in the scientific and medical communities are scrambling to come up with several prototypes to combat the novel disease, and one of them involves using plasma from recovered blood donors. The idea is that if we can infuse antibodies into people who are already fighting the virus, those antibodies will bind to the person’s immune system and help them fight it more quickly. It could also help those who have never been exposed to it. Still, this is only a stopgap until a better solution is found since people are apt to get sick a second time despite it being an interim measure. This area of testing is called serology, but it is only effective after somebody has fully recovered from the virus. Correction: it doesn’t test for who has already recovered from the virus. It tests for who is at risk for contracting it.
This brings us to the next question. I hope we will soon develop vaccines that you can inhale directly for those who are afraid of needles. I certainly do not like the idea of having a long, thin swab shoved through your nose almost to the back of your throat to test for COVID19 while you are awake. Why is that the only way to test it? Isn’t there another way? If the virus is easily aerosolised when someone coughs, sneezes, talks, sings, etc, then it would be simple to have someone do that in a special test tube and then let it sit in a special reagent to preserve its structure until it could be sent to a biotechnology lab to be multiplied into long strands.
I once said on my Facebook post that I thought the recent bans on public gatherings and closing of non-essential businesses was a conspiracy to cover up something huge, like preventing voters from going to the primaries and caucuses, or to stop the presidential debates from occurring, leading up to the election. It would make a clear path for Trump to win again. In fact, there’s only one democrat left. Some people told me that it was because if we let everyone become infected, we would quickly overwhelm the limited supply of medical resources in a short amount of time. Still, I didn’t know why people were panicking over a small virus that wasn’t supposed to cause severe enough symptoms anyway. I mean, if it were a virus that could kill you, like HIV, and if it were a mutant form of HIV that could be transmitted through airborne pathogens, or if it were a virus that changed our behaviour or thought processes, or something more drastic, then I’d be worried. But none of that was happening. Still, all this panic has caused people to hoard all of their essential needs that I came up with a possible solution to criminalise hoarding. We would need a state or federal anti-hoarding order of essential goods and permit drug and law enforcement personnel (wearing personal protective equipment) to check to see who is hoarding these things and then launch a raid to confiscate all but the number of needed items proportional to the number of people living in the household. These confiscated items would go to people who are not genuinely hoarding these items to give them needed access. This might scare people even more, but during a time of crisis, every possible avenue has to be explored for the good of humanity, and you’ll see this phrase again. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people are randomly being selected to be tested. Right now, it is voluntary, but no one knows if that will stay for long.
But a few years ago, I read about how people went to the bathroom in other countries. They don’t use toilets. Or at least, not the kinds we are used to. They use squat toilets which are supposed to be better for you. They also don’t use toilet paper. They either use a bidet or hand-wipe with water. The Western world has developed a yuck factor to poop at a young age that we grow up taking our toilet paper for granted. People also found that using bidets were totally disgusting because it was commonly associated with sexual acts and fancy mansions. So, I got creative and started using a plant waterer with a long spout, which I will keep using until my Tushy toilet attachment arrives, which, according to Amazon, won’t be for another two months. All the personal protective equipment and other medical supplies are backordered because those on the front line need it the most right now. Google and a few other places have started making parodies of well-known kids’ songs with the emphasis of washing your hands.
All this led to another discovery, although I’ve known about this from having watched some of George Carlin’s speeches on our preparedness to war compared to other worst case scenarios of mass human destruction. Personally, if we confronted pandemics the same way we confronted terorists, our healthcare system would be in much better shape. Other countries seem to have far greater successes. So, why not we? What is it about us that supposedly makes us the most arrogant, yet the most vulnerable, nation in the world? Is it about time that we are seeing a viral apocalypse here? Lots of people in popular culture believed that zombies would take over one day, but that didn’t happen. Instead, this happened, and almost nobody was prepared for it. This is not science fiction anymore. This is real. Yes, a lot of sci-fi writers have anticipated scenarios like this for years, but almost nobody thought it would really happen. COVID19 shows just how weak we really are when it comes to biowarfare. People said, Oh well, these things come and go, but we’ll do something to prepare ourselves for the next one. Instead of that happening, we quickly forget our promises until we get a wake-up call one day. I also despise all those people who have the attitude of ignoring other people’s aches and pains because of an assumption that they want to get out of playing a sport, rehearsing, or working in general. So, what better way than to use a major pandemic like this one as a stabbing point to force people’s attitudes to change? Although I wish anyone no harm, I personally felt that nobody really understood how I felt when I got home from Arizona because of the heat, and now we’re all in this together. So, What goes around comes around. The number of telehealth appointments has increased tremendously. Something that doctors had always scrutinised is now being favoured. Although I don’t know if this is a contributing factor, I read that some of the countries that had better success rates were primarily led by females. And, unless a miracle were to happen, I don’t see the United States electing a female, minority, or underserved president anytime soon and for a very long time.
Other countries have invented several models for contact tracing and testing through existing technology. Still, a lot of people here are paranoid about the government encroaching on our privacy, especially because they fear power-hungry governments and data-hungry corporations; they might as well be friends. That’s why so many laws and policies are geared towards them and not us. Anybody can form a corporation, but it takes a lot of selflessness and willpower to be truly alltruistic. Contact tracing should help bring things to normalcy, but in the meantime, think of your quarantine as a prison sentence. I know we didn’t deserved to be punished, but prisoners get used to this all the time because they truly deserved it, unless of course they were wrongly convicted because of a frame-up. A quarantine is usually supposed to last for forty days, which is how it got its name, but this is definitely going to be a lot longer than that. We need to be in an indefinite and continued state of emergency until a reliable vaccine has been developed and widely distributed. Just like how we’re worried about an economic recession, we should be worried about a social recession, as well. So, the next time you go out in public, you may be required to submit some personal information for contact tracing purposes, and they might also require you to wear a mask until you had left their premises. In fact, almost every state is now requiring everyone, unless they are exempt for medical or ADA reasons, to wear masks in any indoor or outdoor space, especially if they cannot keep six feet away from each other.
If we want to ultimately save the human race from extinction, we need to make some sacrifices for the good of humanity. The Atlantic outlined three possible scenarios. One that is very unlikely, one that is very dangerous, and one that is very long. We did the first one with the SARS CoV1 in 2003, and I hardly remember that one, for I was but eight years of age. Now you know how old I am. The second one was what people had to do with the flu in 1918 and 2009. We simply let it consume lives until there were enough survivors to start a new population. The third one is probably our best option, but it will also be the longest. It would require us to sit here and play wack a mole with the virus while we work together to make a vaccine and antiviral drugs to fight the virus and continue ramping up and slacking down on social distancing requirements. Soon, the virus will be like the flu, and we can start over once more until the next novel pandemic comes along.
Now, more than ever, people are turning to on-line businesses and working from home. Choirs, bands, orchestras, and other ensembles are using digital audio workstations to mix music recordings to make virtual concerts. In fact, GALA Choruses is compiling a list of tools and procedures to teach choir directors how to put something like this together. Music and art are such an important cultural value the world doesn’t want to lose, so the industry is most likely going to see a huge surge for both music and technology after we recover from this pandemic. In fact, I am considering compiling some courses to be sold by companies like CommTech USA or I See Music.
This would probably teach technophobes (like my Spanish-speaking mother) a lesson about not letting their insecurities get in the way if it meant making a decision between life and death. More people are signing up to become amateur radio operators, which are essential during a time of any crisis. In fact, a group of hams built an emergency ventilator that is expected to exceed FDA specifications. Ham radio volunteer examiners are now administering tests remotely.
Earlier this year, I predicted that the 2020’s would see a lot of changes to the healthcare and technology industry, but I never thought a pandemic would be the catalyst to cause such a change. The Corona Virus Disease of 2019 will go down in history as being the virus that shifted the entire social, educational, political, economic, and any other landscape imaginable. So, in the future, if you meet somebody named Covid or Lockdown, don’t be surprised. Many parents name their children after historical events, which is a way to keep track of when they happened if technology is not available. These kids of generation C will probably grow up to become epidemiologists, and hopefully that will become our new foreign policy. These attitudes doctors and nurses have about not believing patients who have rare medical conditions need to change, and hopefully COVID19 will change that. It’s easy for people to dismiss rare disease research with a simple gesture because it is not important in the current moment. Oh, well, if it isn’t happening to everyone, then there’s no need for us to waste our time when there are bigger problems to deal with. People need to practise more participatory medicine and only see the doctor if they absolutely need to, at least until the day comes when everybody has equal access to healthcare. That won’t come unless we all pay higher taxes, the rich included, and if we know how best to allocate those taxes accordingly. We thought we got rid of all of the viruses, but I guess not, for now we have to fight this one. Something that is considered rare can suddenly become common in a mere eyeblink. That’s why we need more basic research instead of dedicated research for things like trying to cure diabetes. If we funded more basic research, there’s a far greater chance that we can cure more than just that one disease. Some religious believers feel that the universe wanted to teach this world a lesson for not getting along with one another, and I believe it. As cruel, nasty, unmersiful, and coldhearted as this world is, it is a shame that it took a novel virus to get us to think twice about reassessing what it meant to be interdependent, compassionate, and providing mutual aid for those who are truly and honestly unfortunate, marginalised, or who are otherwise struggling to survive when they should be given a chance at life to really show off their talents to the world. Showing such things is evidently considered a sign of weakness. Our society simply sits and waits until disaster strikes. Then we spend a lot of time and energy scrambling to calm down the public when we should’ve done that a long time ago. A lot of people also emphasise the need for self-care, but hardly anybody focuses on community support. And now, we pretty much don’t have a choice. We need to start using science rather than law and politics to fight the virus. When our stress level increases, our ability to maintain standards decrease. Adversity can either bring out the best in us, or it can bring out the worst. But it is all based on your schemas and how you view the world.
Some people in the DeafBlind community fear that they are not worthy of being treated if they got sick. These two articles, here and here, addresses the issues that social distancing has caused, but they haven’t advocated for potential solutions to address these problems. I thought about using a six-foot-long tether to trail behind my mother or a stranger when out and about. This was how I ran track events during high school with a sighted hearing athlete, although the tether was only two feet long. I later learnt that people from the same household don’t have to be socially distant. It’s only people from other households who have to do this. The other thing that needs to be addressed is identify why our healthcare system is currently being seen as a privilege rather than a right, as is the case in other countries like Canada. As I had said above and in my open letter to friends and family who are shocked to discover I’m a liberal, I believe that the way our taxes are currently allocated are making it such that healthcare is at the bottom when it should be at the top. Obviously, we are seeing first hand how bad the repercussions can be as a result of that. In just a little over a hundred years, this pandemic has changed everything we previously took for granted.
Although we are alone and separate, we are still together thanks to how much technology has enabled us to communicate with one another. Our new anthem should probably be Separately Together.
Stay safe, and stay healthy!