FARGO -- It’s stunning how our lives have changed over the last two weeks because of the coronavirus. Our routines are out of whack. We’re traveling less, avoiding crowds, working from home (if at all), and hoarding toilet paper. Our income, investments and retirement accounts have been hammered.
Thanks to strong leadership in North Dakota and Minnesota, our schools have closed, visitation is limited at hospitals, high school basketball tournaments were cancelled, the Fargo Film Festival was cancelled, symphony concerts were cancelled, worship services are called off, restaurants and libraries are closed, and local jury trials have been delayed. Those decisions have caused a lot of pain and disruption, but they were necessary decisions. I have been working for a year on some community celebrations to commemorate in April North Dakota's new holiday, Patriot’s Day. My guess is they will be scrapped as well.
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“I’m very concerned,” a Fargo doctor told me. “There’s an inherent belief that it can’t happen to me. Regrettably, this is not the case. If you have no symptoms you can transmit it to anybody.”
“Young people who aren’t as vulnerable need to be careful,” said another Fargo doctor. “They can infect their family. Their parents can die from this. There’s a higher chance of dying from this disease than elective surgery.”
Fortunately, there’s a feeling that we’re all in this together. People are social distancing, washing their hands, not shaking hands, and not touching their faces. Of course, every time I’m told not to touch my face, I find myself touching it more than ever.
We also have better health care, communication and technology than in 1918 when the Spanish Flu pandemic took place. However, we’re also more mobile, and one Fargo doctor told me it’s easier to spread a pandemic now because we travel more.
Until this week, President Trump has been more harmful than helpful. His disbanding of the pandemic response team was inexcusable. It was destructive that he called the coronavirus a “hoax” from the Democratic Party, delayed crucial testing, gave out phony information about how many Americans have the disease and when a vaccine will be available, and shamefully took issue with the World Health Organization.
Fortunately, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is refreshingly honest. He tells us what’s going on and what we need to do better.
“The only solution to this is to prevent transmission,” said the first Fargo doctor I mentioned. “It’s everyone’s responsibility. Take it seriously. It means absolute isolation. Avoid contact with other people by six feet. People should not leave their homes unless they have to.”
The major disruptions in our lives now are hard, but must take place. This virus is scary. I also miss watching the NBA, the NCAA basketball tournament and the late night talk shows, but they don’t seem as important now. Things could get much worse before they get better, but I believe this will pass, and we will return to our normal lives.
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