Life on the Serengeti? Some words about COVID19 from a senior

Dear Editor,

Forks is a community where some folks decide to skip cable or satellite TV, for genuine budget reasons. Ditto for digital national newspapers, or the Seattle Times, which are not free. Heck, many do not have computers, or no WiFi, if they do own one. These things just add to your costs. Sometimes it is good, in fact, not to hear the news, because what can you do about 90 percent of it? It just causes worry. However, sometimes the bad news is something we actually can do something about, and COVID19 is such a case.

We can choose to live as if we are on the Serengeti, where the lions and cheetahs cull the weak in the grazing herds—you’ve seen all the documentaries—weed out the old and sick! Is that what we want here? Hey, that solves the Social Security and Medicare budgets! Or we can protect our weaker fellow citizens with some behavior changes.

So, what is happening with all these closures, these recommendations to socially distance, or in some cases, just to not go out unless vitally necessary? Have the governors of several states, and the CDC, gone nuts? With data in from some 80,000 cases in China, the World Health Organization now could make more accurate estimations, actual odds, of who gets really sick (not just cold-like symptoms), who must be hospitalized to live, and who among those likely will die. (The data are surely now supplemented by Italy and S. Korea.) It is not a pretty picture for seniors, because their immune systems decline, the older they get. That’s why there is a senior dosage of the flu shot, as one example. It’s stronger. On top of that, if you have any other reason for your immune system to be weaker (diabetes, heart or respiratory issues, treatment for AIDS, treatment for cancer, etc.), your odds of survival go down. Your need for medical care is more likely; not just home quarantine. And are there enough beds, respirators, and ventilators just now?

The reason for all the closures and/or the virtual meetings is to slow down the spread of this highly contagious disease so that we can stop the infection curve from spiking, and maybe if we slow the pace of infection in the larger population (“flattening the curve”), the health professionals can catch up with getting masks, tests, ventilators, respirators, all in short supply for the anticipated need. They are being mass-produced now but have not yet caught up with projected need. If you feel great, you still may have this thing and spread it to others, who may spread it to others, and very likely to your grandpa or your mom, or whomever. We want to be sure there is time for the medical needs to catch up; they are not there, yet.

Long-Term Care is closed to visitors. Strict precautions are in place. This is because of the vulnerability of its residents. A lot of seniors who don’t need round-the-clock services, who are not in that institution, are just as vulnerable. If they feel it is smart to self-quarantine until this disease gets under control, please respect their precautions. They are not paranoid. They are following the advice of national and state leaders and medical professionals, in being cautious.

Remember that if you are going out and about unnecessarily because you feel you can survive this thing without a scrape, you might still give it to someone who won’t do as well. Are you a lion on the Serengeti? Or are you a caring person, mindful of those weaker than you? Chew on that.

Katie Krueger