Risk Assessment, Part II

An article from the Boston Globe on March 13, A Cautionary Tale from Italy, warned us not to take the threat of this pandemic too lightly. Is that warning still valid? I know, we’re all tired of it. We want life to go back to normal. Some of us are just a little angry about the whole thing. But what are the facts?

Public health officials track the toll of influenza each year. They project what each new strain might exact in the way of lives claimed, and right now you should be wondering, “How does the coronavirus stack up?” Naysayers like to compare the number of COVID-19 deaths to the yearly toll of influenza and draw parallels suggesting officials are over-reacting. But the COVID-19 deaths are a three month, not yearlong tabulation of statistics. Multiply the three-month death rate by four, and you’ll see that this pandemic threatens to decimate the US population if safeguards are not implemented. CNN offers a great perspective on this topic.

Let’s just agree, it’s not over yet. Sharp increases in cases as our communities opened up provided the anticipated spikes. What about the effects of demonstrations? Expect a three-week projection of how costly to human life these protests really were…first-person exposure, secondary exposure to family, and tertiary exposure to the community at large as it creeps far beyond solitary infections.

In the face of its insidious spread, what can you do to protect your family? Some basic precautions are not that hard to put into place.

  • Focus on outdoor family gatherings. Summer is a great time to do this.
  • Employ social distancing. I know it’s hard but just do it. This is an excellent way to teach your children about civic responsibility.
  • Wear a mask in public. I know, a mask protects others from you, but until those of us who understand the mechanics of slowing its spread demonstrate our willingness to mask, others will not begin to understand the dynamics involved.
  • Educate your friends. I’m not suggesting you crucify yourself on Facebook, but you do visit with others, right? Come up with one-sentence explanations for why you are cautious. Refuse to argue. Just explain.
  • Don your armor. Anger seethes below the surface of our communities right now. Remember that the acerbic response of a friend is not a true measure of your friendship. Cut each other a little slack.
  • Find ways to satisfy the losses. Anxiety and tension affect us all. The young, the old and everyone in between are suffering from the angst of a prolonged community danger. You can reduce that anxiety with exercise, with worship, with safe getaways.

Being cognizant of risk isn’t living a life of fear. It is a life of awareness and responsibility. Don’t get bullied into the whole notion that you’re afraid of the virus. You just don’t like casting yourself in front of trains. That’s smart; not fearful. Friends, we aren’t through this yet. Be smart. Be safe. The life you save may be one you love dearly.