We're a couple of weeks into the Corona pandemic by now. But there is an elephant in the room. It's smelly.
The rumors of the elephant are spreading. Through unofficial channels. They start with people who clearly observe the elephant and wonder why no one is talking about this huge and smelly animal. Yeah, sorry elephant, but you stink.
Our "decision makers" are keeping quiet. Is that because they don't know about the elephant? They don't know what to do about it? Do they fear a wide-spread panic if they acknowledge it? Or maybe they think it will just go away if we ignore it long enough? Well, honestly, who knows? Either way, I'm pleased that the general effort around dealing with the arrival of Corona, has been to rather do too much, than too little. Let's be on the safe side of this.
And so, let's also finally talk about the darn elephant: The true extent of the period required to flatten the infection curve. Just to be on the safe side.
Here is Noel Plum sharing some deductions:
To put it short. Considering our hospital capacity and the spread rate and spread effectiveness of Corona, we cannot let the disease spread freely. It will break our healthcare system and before it is over, we will ALL have lost someone close to us. This is of course unacceptable – if we have any means of avoiding it.
That also means that we have to re-emerge as free-ranging humans with caution. If we go back to "normal" too soon, the spread will accelerate out of control again and we have gained only a short delay of the worst case scenario.
Thus, there is only one credible alternative: To go on with this quarantine-like condition for months and months until we arrive safely on the other side, with as few dead as possible.
While that might seem a bit depressing, it doesn't necessarily have to be. The conditions for the lock down will make a world of difference.
The usual reaction
The way we went into this lock down had some elements of panic to it. A sort of controlled panic, but panic nonetheless. We shut down schools and institutions – and then we were forced to quickly come up with some aid plans to minimize the financial consequences. But it seems like we did so imagining that only a short quarantine period would be needed. A few weeks. And then we kept building on top of that crooked foundation. It's what I normally refer to as bandaid solutions and we have enough of those as it is.
None of the currently offered aid plans can last very long (financially) – and they all have one thing in common – the smaller you are, the higher the final relative price. The upper levels will recover, the lower levels will suffer – just like it happened during and after the preceding financial crises. Why? Because we are following the same pattern and we are using the same tools.
As the game has been laid out now, most of us will be poorer and vastly more (financially) depressed on the other side of this. And may I remind you, that Corona didn't fix the climate – it just made us forget about it for a little while.
I agree that we need aid plans – If we are worried about how we are going to get through this – personally, professionally or financially – tensions will rise and problems will grow – out of hand. On all levels.
A desirable quarantine
There is a huge potential hidden in this crisis. We are forced to re-evaluate a lot of things in our lives. In many ways we have been granted a much sought break. There is a possibility for reflection. And with the right peace of mind to appreciate this privilege it can be used for all kinds of good. Currently this may take strong prioritization skills – so now is the time to use them or develop them.
We can practice being present in the moment. Now finally – that is all we have to do. Slow down, feel it out. Fix what doesn't sit right.
We can shift our mindset from social distancing to physical distancing. We should not avoid socializing – but we should avoid physical contact. That is a very important difference and perhaps we will become more aware of just how important socializing is – now that we can't do it so much.
We can arrange (well-distanced) walks with friends or strangers and re-establish some old relationships that might have gotten lost in the work-flood.
We can learn how to be more aware of people around us – not to be afraid of them. We can open up and acknowledge that we are all in the same boat and share a greeting or even eye contact a little bit more than we are used to.
The really important question is, how do we arrange ourselves to get the most out of this situation, including peace of mind, rather that just getting through without dying?
That, I will try to answer in my next post.