“You’re likely to get the coronavirus.”
That was the headline of an article in The Atlantic that caught my eye way back in February before the world entered into an impressive barrel roll. The author, a physician who lectures at Yale School of Public Health, quoted a Harvard epidemiology professor who said, “I think the likely outcome is that it [COVID-19] will ultimately not be containable.” The Harvard prof guessed that “40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”
Sobering, to say the least. But then there was this:
The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”
I haven’t been able to shake that early prediction.
Of course a couple of weeks later we all learned phrases like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” and then there was Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic and now a few months later American Idol is broadcasting from living rooms while ESPN featured the 46th Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Championship. So we’re all a little dizzy.
But I keep thinking back to that article from February and wonder if we should consider that COVID-19 might be here to stay.
Another headline recently caught my attention: “Scientists fear the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine will fail and we will all have to live with the ‘constant threat’ of COVID-19.” Consistent with my nagging thoughts, David Nabarro, a professor of global health at Imperial College in London, was quoted as saying, “…for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”
So, how is your day going so far?
I may be unconvincing when I say this, but I’m not writing to depress anyone. Quite the opposite. Instead, I deeply believe that the greatest psychological danger is to ignore reality and that coming to terms with the journey ahead is the healthy approach to life.
In my humble opinion, while continuing to focus unprecedented attention on protecting the vulnerable, we must also determine how to rearrange our lives to carry on with COVID-19 in the neighborhood because, like the common cold, it is possible that it is not going away anytime soon.