Risk in the age of coronavirus
The Twitter hashtag #BoomerRemover, also known as COVID-19, is certainly a cause for concern, but there are salubrious effects of notoriety. Who knew you should wash your hands and avoid close contact with sick people? Who knew how fine the Florida Department of Health’s website is? It’s loaded with great stuff about who dies and how, but you will have to root around a bit to find the other plain-vanilla killers. As a senior, I like to comparison-shop for my preferred cause of death, and the odds of getting my wish. Heart disease has a seemingly unsurpassable lead. Still, who wants to die from what everybody else succumbs to? COVID-19 really seems attracted to us oldsters, and I might get my name in the paper without paying for an obituary, but the Florida Department of Health’s figures may frustrate my search for fame. I am about 68 times more likely to go with the garden-variety flu, and I am just about as likely to be struck by lightning or attacked by a shark as to die from COVID-19. “It will get worse” is a valid counter, but so might everything else. I don’t want to die in an accident while driving around looking for food (460 times more likely) nor to have a heart attack when I read the economic news (6,600 times more likely). There is a difference between “Houston, we have a problem,” and, “It’s a meteor hurtling toward Earth.” Over-reaction can match under-reaction in adverse effects. I do hope all those young people who were vulnerable to flu (when schools were open) but not COVID-19 (which closed schools) are actually studying at home. I recommend a crash course in probability and relative risk assessment. Actually, everyone should brush up. Knowledge will restore some rational calm.
Pat Byrne, Largo
We can still safely get outside
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly shifted the way we as a nation relate to one another. We fear for our loved ones who may be more at risk, such as the elderly or immune-suppressed. But there are still parts of daily life not saturated by this disease and that can be enjoyed while practicing safe distancing from others. We can reset, go for a bike ride or a walk through downtown. In our fast-paced society, we are at times deprived of moments to just stop and truly see our surroundings.
Katy Scott, Boca Raton
Plugged in, socially distant
Social distancing has actually been a common practice since Apple introduced AirPods. You could distance yourself from another human being simply by inserting a pod in each ear. Try saying hello while passing someone. The response? The tilted head, then a facial expression and finally, with one pod removed, the query, “Did you say something?” Social distancing is important right now but, sadly, as the pandemic episode subsides, the practice will continue.
Darryl David, St. Petersburg
A silver lining amid clouds
Of course there is no colloidal-silver lining, and shame on Jim Bakker for trying to profit by selling a faux cure. Nevertheless, there is a silver lining. Not only have gas prices decreased, but our government is being forced to respond to a life-and-death crisis. America is indeed being put to the test. Next time it happens, we will be more prepared to act. And there is no doubt that there will be next time, as viruses and flu strains become more resilient to drug therapies.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater