Nicholas Hunter

I’ll cut to the chase: I’m scared of the coronavirus.

I have a chronic lung disease called cystic fibrosis and I’m a lung transplant recipient because of it. Right now, I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my life, but respiratory issues of any kind can spell incredibly bad news for me.

As the coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, continues to spread like wildfire, I’ve been feeling terrified. 

I’m not exaggerating when I say this: if I contract COVID-19 and don’t get immediate, aggressive treatment, I’ll probably die.

As of March 11, 4,291 people have lost their lives from the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, according to Tedros Adhanom, the director-general of the World Health Organization. 

In the United States, there are over 1,200 known cases of COVID-19, with 37 people who lost their lives because of it. I am doing my best to not become one of those statistics.

Thankfully I’ve seen a major attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, but I’m still left with mixed feelings.

The Response

Governments worldwide are enforcing restrictions on large gatherings, mass public transportation and international travel.

Here in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has declared a state of emergency, which included banning gatherings of over 100 people and ordering an extended spring break of three weeks, from March 16 to April 3.

In what may be the most drastic attempt worldwide to slow the virus, Italy — which has the second-most cases of COVID-19, after China — has restricted travel in and out of the country, and has closed all businesses excluding banks, grocery stores and pharmacies until March 25.

Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 haven’t been limited to governments, though. The NBA announced on March 11 the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would be suspended after a player was diagnosed with the virus, and the NCAA has cancelled the March Madness tournament.

Coverage of the spread and effects of COVID-19 has been wall-to-wall, with every major news outlet keeping close tabs on the outbreak, tracing it from its start in China to every country a case has been reported in — at least in the New York Times’ case.

The Effects

While it’s refreshing to see a broad, aggressive approach from public and private entities to stop a major public health crisis, I’m still left with mixed feelings.

Broadly speaking, the shutdown of daily life hurts so many people. Shutting down schools may leave kids without meals. Millions of people may go without paychecks. 

Meanwhile, at least in the U.S., there aren’t measures in place to assist those negatively impacted. 

Thursday, the Republican-led Senate actually rejected a bill proposed by the Democrat-led House that would provide help to those affected by health emergency protocols. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill “an ideological wishlist,” and said they would not pass any bill of the sort until after their week-long recess, which begins next week.

My heart breaks for everyone impacted by this virus: those infected, their families, everyone at risk and the countless people whose lives are being turned upside-down because of prevention protocols.

It’s increasingly hard to reconcile when inaction by the government could lead to additional crises for millions of Americans.

The hard truth, though, is that it’s necessary. If there’s no effort to slow the spread of this virus, it means the end of hundreds of thousands of lives, especially the most vulnerable: the sick, the poor, the young, the old.

Those who aren’t in serious danger because of COVID-19 aren’t the bad guys. Neither are the vulnerable populations put at risk if the virus spreads more, or the companies cancelling live events, or the school administrators locking the doors. 

So, trying to find an enemy isn’t going to solve anything. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Be thoughtful about where you’re going and why. 

And yes, wash your hands.

At the same time, cut the snide comments. Don’t belittle those concerned by it. Don’t equate this outbreak to other diseases or illnesses. 

I can go on and on here. I’m full of just as many opinions as anyone else on Twitter. But in the end, just be thoughtful.

Contact Nicholas Hunter at [email protected].