COVID-19: Blog and General Info Updates

COVID-19: Blog and General Info Updates March 23, 2020

As you’ve perhaps noticed, shit has grown decidedly real.

I’m low-key freaked out. I had a dry cough and some mild shortness of breath for a while, though those have gone, and I never had a fever anyway. But I know a lot of immunocompromised people, my parents are both nearly sixty and have lung issues (my dad smokes, my mom has asthma), and another relative of mine just unexpectedly had to have his gall bladder removed. My Starbucks closed on Friday and is set to stay shut for two weeks, but there’s been no word on whether baristas will receive emergency pay. My parish only switched to broadcast Masses yesterday, though social events were discontinued the week before. I went to refill a prescription today at Chase-Brexton, and the staff were taking temperatures before admitting anyone, and only letting two or three people into the at a time. The local convenience store is out of a lot of cleaning supplies, but a generous friend of mine dropped off a substantial load of groceries yesterday, including a new bottle of hand sanitizer and a container of disinfectant wipes.

After some consideration, I’ve decided to keep linking posts to my Patreon, since it is a small source of income for me. My patrons know their own finances best, obviously; if you feel you need to reduce, pause, or stop your donation in the face of the economic hardships we’re about to face, please don’t hesitate—I quite understand. One of my other jobs went fully remote almost two weeks ago, and I’m spending less by staying in, so I am probably going to be okay regardless.

While I’m here, I’d like to correct a few misconceptions I’ve seen going around social media.

The number of confirmed cases is not the same as the actual number of cases. Coronavirus can be spread before you show any symptoms; that’s while social distancing is so important, whether you feel sick or not. Because of the shortage of available testing, the real number of infected people is likely far higher than the number of confirmed cases, perhaps as much as ten times higher.

This is not just the flu. It’s true that most coronavirus deaths have been among the elderly and those with preëxisting lung conditions (or risk factors like smoking). This is true of a great many respiratory infections, naturally. But it has had serious results in younger, healthier people, including children.

The World Health Organization has not stated that ibuprofen worsens coronavirus or causes it to develop into pneumonia. This rumor appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the WHO’s recommendation that paracetamol (tylenol) be preferred for treating coronavirus symptoms. More detailed information can be found here.

In a related vein: Sharing rumors you hear about how to treat or not treat the virus is not responsible behavior. If a rumor scares you, check for sources before sharing it. Look for names, degrees, jobs. Is it a public statement from a doctor, a hospital, the WHO, the NIH, or some similarly credible authority? If the answer is No, it is probably unwise to either trust or share that rumor, until and unless you get confirmation from one of those sources of credible authority—in which case it has effectively ceased to be a rumor.

Mass is still being celebrated, and priests are still administering confession, unction, and Viaticum to the sick. Priests say Mass every day regardless. What’s changed is that the laity are not assisting at Mass in person. This is not a novel development; similar precautions were taken during the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919. God has not abandoned us. As the theological saw goes, He has bound us to His sacraments, but He is not bound Himself. He can get you grace however He likes.

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