It’s time to really hunker down.
Please. If you’re not taking this virus pandemic seriously, please do so now.
Now. Not tomorrow. Not only if you show symptoms. Not if the number of cases hits a certain threshold.
Today. Right now.
If you can possibly help it, do not go out into public for anything other than for basic needs. And when you do, just imagine that everyone and everything around you is infected. Stay away from people. Wear gloves. Wash your hands before and after. Don’t touch your face.
Your life might not depend on it, but somebody’s will. Because if you catch the coronavirus, you’ll spread it, and if you spread it, then you’re contributing to a surge of cases that will overwhelm the health care system.
Not “might.” We’re talking “will.” It’s pretty simple math.
The hospital in Manhattan has four ventilators. Four. There are only 150 hospital beds in town, and they’re so full so often that they have to send patients to other cities. That’s a problem all over the country. With 150,000 people in our region, and with the average rate of hospitalization of patients at 10 percent, we’ll end up with tents full of dying people if we don’t take this thing really seriously.
You think I’m overreacting? Just Google “Imperial College report.” If we don’t all take it very seriously -- at the personal level -- we’re in for millions of deaths.
That means you, and it means me.
I’ve heard a few people make the case that it’s not that big a deal. There were 21 confirmed cases in Kansas, as of Tuesday afternoon. And there were none in the Manhattan area as of Wednesday. Only late in the day Wednesday was there finally an emergency declaration from the local government.
But I can nearly guarantee you that the coronavirus is here already, and I will absolutely guarantee you that there will be cases. The reason there haven’t been any confirmed cases: There weren’t any tests available until the end of last week.
You think somehow it will stay out of our area? Get serious. There are people coming in and out of here constantly. People return from spring break. People come in on airplanes. They drive in from everywhere around the country, and, by extension, the world. They just confirmed a case in Lawrence of a 20-year-old who just got back from Florida.
It’s a contagious virus in a mobile world, and we’re in a transient community. It’s here. Don’t kid yourself.
But people are still going out and about. People are still letting their kids go do stuff with friends. This past weekend, there were throngs out in Aggieville guzzling beer. Restaurants were packed.
This coming weekend, although Fake Patty’s Day is officially off, my guess is that there are still some house parties planned. The cops are certainly counting on that, judging by what they said earlier this week. Some bars are still open.
Some day -- it might be awhile, but some day -- we will get back to an environment when you can have a house party. But we’re not anywhere close.