From the Publisher

A Plague of Our Times

We know this because

-- Sept 2020

Multiple sources of information are available on COVID-19 through regular and social media. While some of the basics of protection have already been outlined,   a broader view of this disease as a class of virus has been lightly skipped over.

A very basic overview  of viruses  provides some interesting facts of viral infections. Consider that chickenpox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably didn't think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in a person’s  body and lives there forever, and maybe when they are older, may have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. People don't just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it's been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes also is  a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in their  body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they're going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time  a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you're going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don't just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it's been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once someone has it, it lives in their body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Nowadays with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.
So far the symptoms may include:
Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Liver damage
Kidney damage
COVID toes

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again.

CCECThen there is MIS-C -  Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

COVID-19 has only been around for approximately  seven months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, without hyperbole and in all sincerity:
What gives them the right?

The right to  risk the lives of others so carelessly. The right to decide for others that they should welcome exposure as "getting it over with", when no one knows who will be the lucky "mild symptoms" case, and who may fall ill and die. While it is known  that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, it’s also a fact  that 20 and 30-year-olds have died, marathon runners and fitness enthusiasts have died, children and infants have died.

What right gives some to behave as though they know more than medical experts, especially when those same experts acknowledge with what IS  known, are smart enough to be fearful  of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:
Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The better the rest of us can do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are.  Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren't immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

It's not “just a virus" as some believe and that we'll all get it eventually no matter what. There are a great many  actions we can take  together to avoid COVID-19. Although  still at a stage in our knowledge that we don’t quite know what we don’t know, there are some tools to curb COVID. It may be possible to considerably reduce the damage of this virus  to ourselves if we cooperate.  The task is not hopeless but does take working cooperatively together to gain control of not just this and other diseases  – and other social problems.

-- Jim Lipkovits

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