Be safe, be clean — but also keep perspective

Nothing is known for sure, but the world isn’t ending.

It seems like some people live on the verge of panic all the time. When the least provocation comes along — let alone a serious one — they immediately lapse into a frenzy and start hording supplies for the apocalypse. The first thing men buy are guns and ammunition. Women start buying toilet paper by the pickup load. (Don’t ask me about this stampede for toilet paper because I haven’t the slightest idea what that’s about.)

Anyway, the “beer virus” is raising a little hell across our country and around the world. The key word here is “little”; there’s no need to exaggerate the culprit. Of those who have the virus, only a few over 2 percent actually die and only about 5 percent require hospitalization. I don’t want to underestimate the seriousness of the threat and I certainly don’t mean to ignore the pain and anguish caused by this plague if it’s touched you or a loved one, but I’d point out that the odds of this scourge striking your home are pretty damned remote. The latest reports indicate there have been about 100 deaths attributed to the virus in King County, however, just to keep things in perspective, that’s in a population of 2.2 million. Or, from the world perspective, only around 37,000 have died in a population of eight billion. Of course, no one knows how long the virus might multiply and strengthen within the human body before actual symptoms appear, which means these fatality figures might be ten times higher by the time this column goes to press.

No one knows how long the epidemic might last. There may not be a vaccine for a year or more. Though most viruses fade during the summer’s warm temps, this one might be different. (On a hopeful note, there’s some weak evidence indicating it’s already fading in China.)

At any rate, we best hunker down, as they say, for the long haul because the drastic changes this pestilence has made in our lives might become the new norm for several months. It means, what-the-hell, the bars and restaurants are closed, which tears my entire social life up from its roots! I’ve been through hurricanes and earthquakes, but this has never happened before.

Our illustrious president initially called the virus a hoax but has now declared a “national emergency” that’s akin to war. Thus several major corporations, like Boeing and Ford, as well as many small businesses, again like bars and restaurants, have either ceased operations or have severely cut their work force. Consequently, the ranks of the unemployed are increasing rapidly. Fearing a recession, our commander in chief wants to bail out big business and issue checks to everyone. But this is only a stop-gap measure. Then too, the money given to giant corporations may not be used to rehire laid-off workers but, instead, might be dumped on the stock market or used to increase automation, as in the last recession. This damn virus might trigger a new high unemployment rate that could become a permanent part of our world.

Admittedly, this is rather bleak picture. But whatever happens, I’m ready for it. I’ve got two rolls of toilet paper and a pellet gun.