Mar 11 Newspaper Column

The Virus: Listening with Both Ears ~ Silver City’s Great What If

Many times a day I compulsively look at the news about the virus. I am trying to find simple, clear cut answers, but there just aren’t any. It is just one ‘maybe’ or ‘not sure’ after another. I want to know how bad it will get or if it will get bad at all. There are so many conflicting story lines. I’ve noticed the ones I pick out to believe depend upon ‘How I Listen’. Let me explain.

If I listen with my left ear, with a filter of paranoia, I imagine the worse that can happen. And if I listen from the other ear, I listen in a way that denies there is a problem. And I if am overwhelmed with the anxiety and uncertainty of it all, I don’t listen at all. So inside I am in conflict. It is like there is a battle going on and I am trapped between these ways of listening or not. What can I do?  I will try to — Listen with ‘Both Ears’ — while still respecting the need to withdraw from time to time entirely from listening. What follows is an imaginary conversation between both ears.

“This Virus is just the flu. It will probably kill less people than the flu.” — “Yes, but almost every year, our 20,000 Americans die from the flu. That is why our caring nurses and doctors, tell us to wash our hands, get vaccinated and stay away from others when we are sick.” —“Also, with this virus the death rate for those over 60 is much higher than with just the flu. But thank God very few children die from it. ”
“This Virus is different than ordinary flu. How different? We don’t know. But it seems to be about twice as contagious spreading very rapidly. Also it may not be seasonal and disappear as winter ends. — “But people hardly get sick from it at all. Many of us can continue our ordinary lives going to work or school.—“Yes, and we may then be infecting many others.”
“No one has caught it around here.” — “But it is getting uncomfortably close, with community spreading reported outside of Tucson. And we have only just begun testing. Our hospital could become swamped reducing their response to ordinary medical emergencies.”

What if this paranoid way of listening is only half correct, and there is a very big problem coming our way. What can we do here in Grant County to overcome it.  We can be Proactive not Reactive. If we close an elementary school after a student is tested to be positive, it is already too late. Remember to require a test, process it and retest all takes time so for many days or weeks it has been spreading in the school and community.”

We can do: Follow the advice that our health professionals told us all through the years. Wash our hands. Drink plenty of water. Stay warm. If you suspect you are getting sick, stay away from others. Don’t shake hands.
And do even more: Wear surgical gloves, for the common surfaces may be infected with the virus droplets. Do not gather in groups and if in a group keep a social distances of at least 4 or 5 feet. Wear surgical masks so as not to spread it to others and to not infect yourself by keep touching your face or nose. And if you have any suspicion of having it, self isolate for ten days or more. The list goes on . . . but always do more rather than too little.

In doing all this, then let’s dream a dream together, a great ‘What If’. What if, by our isolation from major airports and the big cities we are protected from mass infections. And the ones that come our way, we face head on through being proactive. What if we cancel some of our early festivals because of the virus spread it will bring. What if we stop this infection in its tracks. What if after doing this, we achieve national recognition, as one of the very, very few counties and cities in all of America that have successfully faced down this common enemy. Perhaps, in the long run this positive reputation may benefit us economically. But without a doubt having overcome it, we will grow stronger as a city, as a county, as a community. This is my hope — Esta es mi esperanza