A Relative Who Won’t Leave
By John Meng Have you ever had an annoying relative visit your home and not know when to leave? Your comments about having important things to do fall on deaf ears. You strongly hint that they should go, but they find a reason to linger, invade your refrigerator and root themselves in your favorite recliner. They are unwanted and uninvited.
The coronavirus is that annoying relative.
The flu and other respiratory viruses are well-known as being seasonal in cold and damp weather, so many scientists theorized that COVID-19 would leave us during the hot Texas summer.
But it’s still hanging around.
In fact, we’re seeing more of it. Jackson County’s positive case count has surged over the last couple of weeks, and the positivity rate is at 19.8 percent, according to Jackson County Hospital District officials.
As a result, we are now once again under Gov. Abbott’s mandate to wear a mask when in public. The jury is still out on whether our local businesses will be required to shrink from 75 percent occupancy back down to 50 percent. The Texas Department of Emergency Management has yet to notify county officials but that very well could come next.
The sad fact may be that the coronavirus could be part of the landscape in Jackson County. It very well could be part of our normal daily lives, just as the flu, colds, allergies, chicken pox and other ailments are part of our lives. A new review published in Frontiers in Public Health suggests that COVID-19 will likely become seasonal in countries with temperate climates, but only after herd immunity is attained. Until that time, COVID-19 will continue to circulate across the seasons.
Senior author of the study Dr. Hassan Zaraket, of the American University of Beirut, warns that “COVID-19 is here to stay and it will continue to cause outbreaks year-round until herd immunity is achieved. Therefore, the public will need to learn to live with it and continue practicing the best prevention measures, including wearing of masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and avoidance of gatherings.”
So, according to Dr. Zaraket and other researchers, the coronavirus isn’t leaving anytime soon.
But that’s okay. We live with viruses every day, and the truth is that the coronavirus (medically speaking) is not a huge threat for a majority of the population. Obviously, it is still a danger to the elderly and to those who have severe underlying medical conditions, just as the flu or other respiratory illnesses would be. But, overall, the coronavirus has an extremely low mortality rate.
Most of the damage — physical, emotional and financial — which has been attributed to the virus has actually been caused by our own fear of the virus. We lockdown communities. We close schools. We shutdown economies. The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) has advised this is the wrong approach to defeating the virus.
“In a time when people and businesses can least afford it, local governments continue to threaten to take what they have left,” says TPPF’s Shelby Sterling. “While continuing the best health practices is imperative for keeping people safe, shutting down the economy again is not a valid option. As a result of the government-mandated shutdowns, more than 8,900 Texas businesses have permanently closed with more 5,300 more businesses on the brink.”
In my sometimes not-so-humble opinion, we cannot as individuals, nor as a society, continue to live with uncertainty and instability in our economy and our communities. We need to know we have jobs. We need to be able to go to church or visit our families. We need to know that we don’t have to be afraid every time someone sneezes.
It might be time to learn to live with the virus. It seems this annoying relative will be staying with us for a while.