Plague of Our Times
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
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)
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the
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.
Then 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:
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
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